In our last Blackwing-related slice of coverage, we took a look at the numbers surrounding the 2022 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing and compared it with one of its rivals to see how the big bad Caddy fared when it came to benchmarking the competition. While we did find some surprises when we compared it to the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, Cadillac’s insistence on making this model a tweener forces it into a grey area when it comes to rivals. This time around, we chose to take a more direct approach and crunched the numbers to see whether the 2022 CT4-V Blackwing could finally hit all of its benchmarks against the king of the segment, the 2022 BMW M3.
Exterior Styling Wars Go To Cadillac, CT4-V Blackwing Houses Familiar Platform
As a kid, the BMW 3-Series and the hotter M3 models, in particular, were enviable pieces of eye candy with the tidy twin-kidney grilles accenting flowing body lines and tidy rear styling that made them a hero of my younger days. Of course, evolving safety regulations over the years have forced BMW to adapt to the times. Still, in this case, instead of asking how handsome it looks, BMW designers will certainly be questioned about just what went wrong here with the current generation M3. BMW representatives claim that the massive twin-kidney grilles seen on many of its models these days are a caveat to safety, and they help incorporate some of these features into the car. However, they also look radically out of place and help give the front end a woodchuck-like look. The last time the grilles were this big was in some period models from the 1930s all the way up to the 1950s. Still, unlike those classic examples that managed to incorporate them seamlessly, this modern interpretation seems like a rushed copy and paste job. Thankfully, the side profile and the rear styling help regain some ground and nod to older M3 DNA.
On the other hand, the Cadillac has a much better approach to this state of affairs, with the small front grille working with the larger headlights and the bigger front splitter. The front of the car is usually the first thing that many observers look at when they walk up to it. The Cadillac designers definitely did a good job balancing out the design with nods to changing safety regulations. The side profile is slightly more restrained than the BMW’s, but it still has a strong, handsome demeanor. The rear styling of the CT4 is arguably where its biggest styling faux pas exists, with the larger rear spoiler and the small trunk lid clashing with the large taillights. These lamps were an interesting styling quirk on standard CT4 models, and here they also serve as clashing elements in the Blackwing transformation.
The exterior styling is also hiding some aged hardware, but in this case, the carryover Alpha platform is nothing to scoff at and is still one of the best rear-wheel-drive-centric platforms in the game today. Cadillac engineers kept some of the core essentials that made the axed ATS shine but added extra reinforcements and new materials to improve stiffness and rigidity. While the M3’s platform is newer and has some advantages, this latest iteration of Alpha is perhaps the best iteration yet.
BMW Roars Back In Interior Wars With Strong Showing
With Cadillac pulling a surprise upset over the BMW in exterior styling, the M3 had to make up some much-needed ground, and it manages to do so in both interior design and quality. BMW interiors have always had a strong reputation for bringing high-quality materials and driver-focused ergonomics to consumers. The M3’s interior largely follows this time-honored script, with high-quality leather accents balanced with splashes of metal trim, a fully digital instrument cluster, and supportive sport seats.
The CT4-V Blackwing also brings its own mixture of high-quality materials to the mix, but unlike the BMW, the CT4’s presentation seems unbalanced. The splashes of optional carbon fiber are a nice touch. Still, looking at some of the Blackwing models that have landed in dealer inventory here in Metro Detroit, it also lacks some of the cohesion seen in its German rival. Some of the dials and switches are obvious pieces from the broader GM parts bin, and in a few areas, the CT4’s interior feels like a small but noticeable step backward from the M3’s cabin.
Performance Battle Is A Dead Heat Between The Two, CT4-V Blackwing Has Slight Edge
The ultimate battleground here is in performance, and while we’re still waiting for our chance to slip behind the wheel of the CT4-V Blackwing, prior encounters with the ATS-V it replaces do provide some clues to what we can expect. The 3.6 liter twin-turbocharged V6 and the six-speed Tremec sourced manual are all carried over from the ATS. The engine sees a slight gain in power, with the CT4-V Blackwing producing 472 hp versus the old 464 hp figure. But don’t be fooled into thinking the Blackwing is just a repacked bag of Doritos because GM engineers completely updated the electronics here to have quicker responses. In theory, they promise to inject the car with more youthful vigor. That is especially true of the Performance Traction Management system (PTM) that aims to help drivers find the right amount of computer involvement for spirited drives.
The $69,900 standard BMW M3 model (we’re leaving the 503 hp $72,800 Competition variant out for fairness purposes) is arguably the most basic form of M3, with a six-speed stick being the lone transmission entry here. The 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged inline-six makes a tick more power at 473 hp, but buyers are stuck with the standard six-speed manual as the lone shift it yourself option. Buyers looking for the automatic will have to step up to the pricier Competition model to get it. That’s not the case with the $59,990 Blackwing, which offers not only the fore-mentioned Tremec six-speed but also an optional 10-speed automatic ($63,165) for those that either prefer to let the car shift for themselves or need something for more rigorous urban driving. With such a small gap between the two, choosing which is best will ultimately depend on who you have behind the wheel of both of these machines, with our preference leaning towards the BMW for its more precise shifter and clutch.
Which One Should You Buy?
Here lies the biggest question which one should you buy? Unlike the bigger CT5, the 2022 CT4-V Blackwing is not a tweener model and is purely focused on taking on the Mercedes C43 AMG and the benchmark BMW M3. On the surface, the two are very similar and offer similar levels of performance. However, look beyond the numbers, and some other factors emerge to make them stand out from each other.
The Cadillac is arguably the more accessible option; not only does it come in a package that’s less expensive than the BMW, but it is also more flexible to enthusiasts with the optional automatic not being constrained to a pricier trim level like it is in the BMW. However, the BMW is the one that also has higher performance potential, especially when the beefier Competition model is factored into the conversation along with some of the advantages its newer platform brings in extreme performance driving.
Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as Autoshopper.com.
Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.