2022 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing Aero: Definition of “Obsessive”

When you want to go very fast, you pay very close attention to how the air flows over, under and around a vehicle

By Gary S. Vasilash

The ’22 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing has a 472-hp, 445 lb-ft of torque 3.6-liter twin-turbo V6 that propels the car at up to 186 mph.

But the car isn’t about straight-line speed as much as it is about track performance, so the engineering team took the Cadillac Racing Dpi-.R race car as a template, put the CT4-V Blackwing digital model in over 300 computational fluid dynamics simulations and put physical models in a five-belt rolling road wind tunnel at the GM Technical Center (it seems that the five-belt setup allows a more accurate assessment of what goes on beneath the vehicle than wind tunnels without five) and came up with aero packages to help its performance.

The radius of each V on the 2022 CT4-V Blackwing optimizes airflow. (Image: Cadillac)

As Tony Roma, Cadillac V-Series Blackwing chief engineer, puts it: “With the CT4-V Blackwing, we create net downforce that is incredibly rare in production vehicles. What this means is that the car gets pressed down into the road the faster you go, giving it more grip, greater stability and inspiring the driver to confidently explore its full capabilities. Not only have we produced our most track-capable sub-compact sedan ever, but we continue to work with our racing counterparts to explore the limits of physics to make better cars.”

So there is a front underwing with air strakes to control the airflow (Scott Sier, aerodynamics performance engineer at Cadillac: “Thanks to components like the underwing, we were able to work with design to generate downforce without the use of large wings that didn’t fit with the design.”).

Front dive planes to increase grip for the front tires by pushing the front down (see previous quote).

A rear spoiler with a functional 3-mm Gurney flap for more downforce.

Brake cooling ducts that are not only 3D printed (how techy is that?) but work to keep the rotors cool and direct air around the front control arms.

Front fender vents that exhaust built-up pressure in the wheel wells as well as remove hot air from the engine bay.

A front splitter, rocker moldings and extensions and a rear diffuser, all of which reduce lift and provide high-speed balance.

A flat underbody for airflow management.

Rear control arm covers, which minimize air buildup around the rear wheel wells and the control arms.

But the most remarkable one of all: the mesh on the grille has V-shaped inlets that have two different textures that work to control and direct air.

Sure, the grille makes a huge difference in air flow management, but the textures on each of those little elements?

That is serious aero.

Cadillac Prepares to Produce the LYRIQ

This electric crossover is the start of a new approach at Cadillac

By Gary S. Vasilash

 Cadillac has revealed the production version of what will become the first of its electric onslaught, the 2023 LYRIQ. With the exception of those who are exceedingly focused on such things, the LYRIQ production version looks essentially like the LYRIQ show car.

Jamie Brewer, the vehicle’s chief engineer, says that they were able to accomplish this by working very closely with not only the design team, but manufacturing, as well as the suppliers.

2023 Cadillac LYRIQ. Strange spelling. Cool crossover. (Image: Cadillac)

It is also interesting to note that the vehicle is going to be delivered nine months earlier than had been initially announced. According to Brewer they were able to achieve this through a virtual development process, in which there was extensive digital simulation and testing such that when they did their first pre-production builds there was “high fidelity” between what was expected and what was achieved.

Andrew Smith, executive director of Cadillac Design, and his team certainly had a big challenge in front of them, given that this is the first of the electric vehicles that will define Cadillac’s future.

Smith said he told the design team that they were to develop a “Cadillac that happens to be an electric vehicle.”

He also suggested that they are taking a somewhat different approach to creating models for the brand than some of its competitors do.

“Cadillac is a fashion brand,” Smith says. “Fashion is about change.”

While he says that there are a set of core values and principles, Cadillac design is not about making variants of different sizes and architectures of the same basic thing.

From a functional point of view the LYRIQ has an Ultium 12-module, 100 kWh battery pack and a rear-drive Ultium Platform. Brewer says that the LYRIQ development team and the Ultium development team sat with one another such that they were essentially the same team. She says that by having this close collaboration they were better able to optimize the systems for the vehicle.

The LYRIQ will have an estimated 340 hp and a 300-mile range on a full charge.

It offers high-speed DC fast charging at 190 kW, which means that about 76 miles of range can be achieved in 10 minutes. There is a 19.2-kW home charging module that is capable of providing 52 miles of range per hour of charging.

The vehicle is to start production at the GM plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee, in Q1 2022 and become available during the first half of the year. The starting MSRP is $59,990.

According to Rory Harvey, vice president of Global Cadillac, the brand intends that from now on when there are new vehicles developed they, like the LYRIQ, will be EVs, not powered with internal combustion engines.

Of course, that is probably predicated on the acceptance of EVs by the market.

Should the LYRIQ be prelude to what’s to come, they probably won’t have an issue.

About the 2022 Lexus ES

Yes, sedans matter. Done right.

By Gary S. Vasilash

Lexus has revealed the major midcycle update of the seventh generation ES, which appeared in 2018. The ES is a sedan. The ES is one of the fundamental products of the brand that we now know as Lexus. In 1989 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit Lexus was introduced to the world with two models: the LS 400 sedan and the ES 250. While many associate Lexus with the wildly popular RX crossover, it wasn’t introduced until 1989.

Without the ES, arguably, we wouldn’t have the Lexus that we now know: Let’s face it, while the top-of-the-line LS is notable, its sales potential is limited. (That is: the starting MSRP for an LS is $76,000, while the starting price for an ES is $40,000. The difference is not trivial.)

The 2022 Lexus ES. Yes, people still like to drive cars. (Image: Lexus)

Lexus has seven cars in its lineup: IS, RC, ES, GS LS, LC and LFA. In 2020 there were 68,205 Lexus cars delivered. Of that number, 43,292 were ES models. Second to it is the IS, at 13,600.

Of course, the brand that made luxury crossovers a thing has five models in the SUV category. In 2020 it sold 206,836. Of that number, 101,059 were RX models. Second to it is the NX, at 55,784.

While it is clear that the crossover is certainly bringing in more buyers, note how important the ES is to the overall car sales: 63% of the total. The RX represents about 49% of the crossover total.

So for 2022 the brand has made some modifications, such as making its Lexus Safety System+ 2.5 as standard equipment (among its elements: Pre-Collision System (PCS) that uses enhanced sensors; it includes Frontal Collision Warning (FCW), Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB), Pedestrian Detection and Bicyclist Detection, and Intersection Turning Assist (under certain conditions it will recognize an oncoming vehicle when performing a left-hand turn, or a pedestrian when performing left and right-hand turns; it activates PCS if needed)).

They’ve modified the instrument panel design, doing such things as moving the center screens (standard 8-inch and optional 12.3-inch) forward 4.3 inches for easier accessibility.

On the outside there are new grille patterns. There are new wheels.

They’ve modified the ride and handling characteristics thanks to things like the use of a new rear suspension member brace. They’ve updated the braking system. . .and even enlarged the size of the brake pedal.

They’re even offering an FSPORT accessory and handling package for the hybrid version of the ES.

Lexus is putting a lot into the ES.

Look at those numbers for last year.

And consider this: in 2020 there wasn’t a single Cadillac model—not a car, not a crossover, that had sales of 43,292. The closest is the XT5 crossover, at 35,223.

Yes, the right sedan can matter.

Standard of the World, Again, Finally?

Will EVs provide Cadillac the jolt it needs to make it matter—again—in the market? Todd Lassa considers the proposition

As “Standard of the World,” Cadillac has had two distinct eras. The first started in 1908, when the luxury marque won engineering’s prestigious Dewar trophy for the precise interchangeability of its parts and earned that tagline; it ended at the beginning of World War II, shortly after it discontinued its second V-16 engine design and LaSalle sub-brand. The second era was from the new OHV high-compression V-8 of 1949 to, roughly, the mid-1970s. Even the over-chromed, over-finned, over-sized Cadillacs had a cache from here to Europe and Asia that began to fade in the 1970s, when Mercedes-Benz made them look in comparison like rental cars for the executive with a generous expense account.

Cadillac has been trying to earn back its “Standard of the World” reputation since the early part of the 21st century, when it started converting back to mostly rear-wheel-drive-based sedans. Despite some very good efforts, from the second- and third-generation CTS to the all too short-lived CT6 (and especially the CT6-V Blackwing), its flagship remained the big Tahoe/Suburban-based SUV, the Escalade. And if the ’71 DeVille came off as an overpriced ’71 Chevy Caprice (as Motor Trend so noted in a feature article asking whether the extra $3,000 was worth it), the ’21 Escalade still is basically a glorified ’21 GMC Yukon Denali with an extra-fancy dashboard.

A fresh face of Cadillac. (Images: Cadillac)

General Motors tried all sorts of extracurricular schemes to earn spots in car magazine comparison tests alongside the best from Mercedes, BMW, Lexus and Audi, including the Sixteen concept of 2003, powered by two Chevy small blocks welded together: several failed European export attempts; moving HQ to Manhattan, and (unrelated, as it was then-CFO Dan Amman who didn’t want to relocate to Detroit) hiring the exec credited with making Audi what it is in North America, Johan deNysschen, after he spent a month running Nissan’s Infiniti luxury brand.

DeNysschen had grand plans for Cadillac, which GM had just split off into a separate business entity, so it wouldn’t have to share more than the unseen bits (e.g.,  truck platforms, wiring harnesses and other things consumers aren’t particularly aware of) with Chevys, Buicks and GMC models. In what I believe was his first interview as president of Cadillac, in early fall 2014 for Automobile magazine, he told me the marque would eventually get a Mercedes S-Class competitor and a high-end sports car or two.

DeNysschen lasted in the job about three-and-a-half years. Some auto news reports overplayed his responsibility for initiatives including an edgy ad campaign (along with incorrectly blaming him for the Manhattan HQ) that failed to move the metal and a subscription service called “Book by Cadillac” (all lux-car sub services except for maybe Volvo have since fallen), but the real reason he left, not in a huff, but in a minute-and-a-huff, is that he clashed with top GM management, most of them lifers, over vehicle pricing.

To become Standard of the World again, you can’t put money on the hood as though the brand sells through one big network of Fast Eddy car lots, where its all about the deal, but that’s what they did. DeNysschen wanted to rebuild slowly by selling a product that could stand hood-ornament-by-hood-ornament with Mercs and Bimmers, but he fully recognized that it would take a good decade or more for new, younger luxury buyers to believe that the Caddy had the same level of cache´.

DeNysschen has been gone now as long as a full product lifecycle. He landed at Volkswagen USA (an even tougher job, but that’s another column), and Cadillac is still at it, offering the Mercedes E-Class-size CT5 for the price of a C-Class, and the BMW 3 Series-size CT4 for the price of a BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe.

But GM has figured a way back to the Standard, perhaps out of necessity: Electric vehicles (EVs).

Despite what you may have read in the mainstream press, GM hasn’t suddenly discovered EVs. There were more than two decades between the 1966 Chevy Electrovair experiment and the Saturn-esque EV1—admittedly, the Electrovair was pretty much for internal work and to show to the world that it could be done while the EV1 was also something of an external test program, as there were Californians who had the opportunity to lease the vehicle for their daily drives. What’s more, GM developed the extended-range Volt and the fully electric Bolt, both of them Chevrolets for the mass market, and it is now concentrating R&D efforts on what it calls the “Ultium” platform—batteries, motors and underlying platform.

In 2013 the Cadillac ELR went into production. It used the same Voltec extended-range EV technology that powered the Volt. In part, this was a response to analysts who pointed out the company should have used what is now known as plug-in hybrid tech in a $60,000 luxury car rather than a $40,000 commodity hatchback sedan. The Volt had gone into production three years earlier. By the time the ELR launched on the first-generation Voltec technology, it had inferior technology next to the Chevy Volt with its updated extended-range system. The ELR was a disaster.

Cadillac LYRIQ with the GM Design Dome in the background.

GM – or should I say, “gm,” given its new lower-case logo – is planning its big EV rollout of the next five or so years with new models to cover every U.S. brand. This time, however, it starts with higher profit-margin prestige models, like the GMC Hummer and the Cadillac Lyriq SUV.  

What’s more, GM has announced that Cadillac will become the company’s lead brand for electric vehicles, with plans calling for it to sell essentially only EVs by 2030. (Going back to deNysschen’s plan for dealers selling on quality not price, it is interesting to note that late last year GM offered to buy out Cadillac dealers who weren’t interested in going down the electric road, and some 150 of them—about one in six—took the offer.)

If the production Cadillac EVs, especially the >$100,000 Celestiq luxury sedan, are close to the prototypes GM showed off last March in the legendary GM Design Dome, they could rule the segment ahead of German, Japanese, British and South Korean luxury brands. Price them against the only real competition to date: the Tesla lineup. And if the Ultium EV platform delivers on its promise to reduce the cost of the technology but with highly competitive range and performance, Cadillac could become the Standard of the Electrified World and, importantly, make money while doing so.

GM could mess this up, of course, as it has so many times in the past. But I didn’t get the sense from the presentations last March that CEO Mary Barra, President Mark Reuss, and others in the company that they were at all nervous about continuing the automaker’s usual fatal flaws, like too-cheap interiors, disappointing execution, or a management reorganization that places emphasis back on V-8 pickup trucks and SUVs, reducing EV production plans below Corvette output and cancelling promising models after two years, pretending that this has been the plan all along.

Let’s face it: Even if they come up with superb products it is going to take Cadillac some time to convince those who are likely to buy premium-priced EVs that they want a Cadillac crest on their purchase. However, there is one possibility that would play to Cadillac’s advantage in the EV space: There will be a cohort of younger buyers who are looking for EVs and who have little or no impressions of the brand, so they’d be just as willing to go Cadillac as any other marque.

Still, it seems as though electrification could be Cadillac’s best shot.—Todd Lassa

The Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing & CT5-V Blackwing: Yes, “Cadillac”

If when you think “Cadillac” you think of something big and lush and lumbering like the Escalade (no offense to the SUV, but it is 211 inches long and weighs up to 6,015 pounds, a.k.a., three tons), then the 2022 V-Series Blackwing vehicles are going to absolutely upend that notion: The CT5-V Blackwing is powered by a hand-built (think about that for a moment) 668-hp. 6.2-liter supercharged V8 mated to a six-speed manual TREMEC transmission; the sedan has a top speed of over 200 mph.

Then there’s the CT4-V Blackwing, which is smaller, a subcompact, and is certainly no slouch, as it is fitted with a 3.6-liter twin-turbo V6 such that it has an estimated top speed of 189 mph. Equipped with the optional 10-speed automatic (which is also available for the other car), it has an estimated 0 to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds.

2022 CT4-V Blackwing (left) and CT5-V Blackwing (right): engineered to perform. (Image: Cadillac)

Of course, when you go fast you also need to, well, stop, so there are serious Brembos deployed, with the CT5-V Blackwing featuring the largest factory-installed brakes in Cadillac history: 15.67 x 1.42-inch front rotors and 14.7 x 1.1-inch rear rotors. (There is also a lightweight carbon-ceramic brake package available, which is helpful in track situations, in particular, as it reduces unsprung mass by 53 pounds and rotating mass by 62 pounds.)

At this point you might be wondering why these vehicles are being named with their full names. That’s because you can go to a Cadillac dealership and buy a CT4 or a CT5. Or you can buy a CT4-V or a CT5-V.

The Blackwing execution is a whole different thing.

And so to that end, on this edition of “Autoline After Hours” Tony Roma, chief engineer of Cadillac V-Series Blackwing, provides a deep dive into the features that they’ve brought to the vehicles in order to make them track-capable vehicles straight out of the dealer’s showroom.

Roma talks with “Autoline’s” John McElroy, Chris Paukert of Roadshow by CNET and me.

Roma says that their objective was to make a vehicle that is “light, nimble and precise.”

Which is arguably what some people might not think about when it comes to Cadillacs.

Then McElroy, Paukert and I discuss a variety of other subjects, including Cadillac’s electric future (Roma is also the chief engineer for the forthcoming, ultra-luxury Celestiq electric vehicle), the agreement between Google and Ford and the whole issue of data monetization, January sales and a whole lot more.

And you can see it all here.–gsv