Cadillac CT4-V — Luxury performance at a good price photo

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

(October 18, 2020) By the end of the year Lincoln will become the only mainstream luxury carmaker without a single sedan in the lineup. Time will tell if this is a good decision — other luxury automakers retain at least a semblance of a sedan presence as SUVs take over the landscape like out of control kudzu. We mention this because Lincoln's arch rival Cadillac is also loading up its lineup with crossovers, but still offers sedan alternatives with the excellent all-new CT4 and CT5. Its customers at least have a choice. And we are for a choice because we like sedans.

Granted, GM has stopped production of its biggest sedan, the CT6, but for those who like four doors and a trunk there are the compact CT4, which replaces the the departed ATS, and the mid-sized CT5, which overlaps the ATS as well as the larger and now departed CTS. The CT4 is the "sports sedan" of the pair according to Cadillac.  Our review focuses on the compact CT4, which competes against such European entrants a the Audi A3, BMW 2 and 3 Series and the Mercedes-Benz A and C Class.

The CT4 carries Cadillac styling cues with horizontal, conservative lines, a wide Cadillac grille, and vertical Cadillac-like taillights. From behind there's no mistaking the car in front is a Cadillac. The CT4's well proportioned angular exterior design hides the fact that this is one of the shortest Cadillacs ever built.

“We developed CT4 to appeal to youthful buyers in the luxury market who may be new to the Cadillac brand,” said Andrew Smith, executive director of global Cadillac design. “The vehicle was intended to draw attention, using a combination of great proportions, taut surfacing and Cadillac family details that hint at the athletic driving experience this vehicle offers.”

Entry-level luxury sedans are mostly powered by four-cylinder engines, and the CT4 is no exception. The base engine is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four with 237 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The Premium Luxury trim brings a 2.7-liter 310 hp engine. For competitive performance there's a turbocharged 2.7-liter making 325 horsepower in the V-Series.  Most of the European small-car competition now comes with front-drive setups, but the CT4 has the traditional sports sedan rear-drive — and with all-wheel drive optional.

The CT4 comes in four trim levels — Luxury, Premium Luxury, Sport and V- Series. We drove the V-Series with the bigger engine, a full compliment of performance bits and pieces and all-wheel drive. The CT4 -V comes with the 325-horsepower engine developing 381 pound-feet of torque and mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission. Its sporty handling is aided by GM's Magnetic Ride Control and nearly perfect 50/50 weight distribution.

Those of you familiar with the now-retired ATS-V with its twin-turbo V-6 making 464 horsepower will surely be disappointed — because this the AT4-V is an entirely different breed. Cadillac has aimed the AT4-V at such competitions as the Audi S, BMW M235i and Mercedes-AMG A35 and it plays well in that market with 4.5-second 0-to-60 performance together with an engaging driving demeanor on the twists and turns. Steering is quick and direct and the brakes are spot on.

What is missing from the ATS-V is the sound of a performance car. We like a mood elevating exhaust note, but the 4-cylinder fails to deliver. It sounds pretty much like any other turbo four, which is a far cry from a screaming turbo V-6 or a rumbling V-8.

The V-Series comes standard with such performance features as a mechanical limited-slip differential for improved traction, an improved traction and stability
control system, Magnetic Ride Control, a sport-tuned suspension, and Brembo brakes front and rear.

Other than performance, the ATS-V is considerably more expensive than the CT4-V starting at $68,790. The CT4-V starts at $45,490 — $23,300 less. Cadillac is rumored to have a more powerful and aggressive version in the works called the CT4-V Blackwing that should rival the ATS-V.

The interior is an improvement over the ATS, with a more user-friendly layout that features buttons in place of  touch controls for climate as well as the radio and media interface. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, though neither system is currently available with wireless connectivity. Plush front seats are heated and ventilated. A heated leather-wrapped steering wheel and 14-speaker Bose audio system add luxury touches.

The biggest downside to the interior is a cramped rear seat. Many passengers will have to negotiate with front-seaters to gain any meaningful leg room. If this is a deal breaker  you don't have to move away from Cadillac — just consider the slightly larger CT5 that provides all the luxury of the CT4, but with increased passenger space.

Safety is enhanced by adaptive cruise, forward crash mitigation braking, blind spot warning, rear cross path detection, and lane keep assist. The driver safety alert seat even vibrates in the direction of danger.

The CT4-V starts at $45,490. Our test car came with $4,225 worth of options that brought the bottom line up to $49,715 including a $995 destination charge.

2020 Cadillac CT4-V


Base price: $45,490; as driven, $49,715
Engine: 2.7-liter turbocharged 4 cylinderVW Atlas Cross
Horsepower: 325 @ 5,600 rpm
Torque: 380 foot-pounds @ 4,000 rpm
Transmission: 10-speed automatic
Drive: all-wheel
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 109.3 inches
Length: 187.2 inches
Curb weight: 3,616 pounds
Turning circle: NA
Luggage capacity: 10.7 cubic feet
Fuel capacity: 17.4 gallons (premium)
EPA rating: 20 city, 29 highway, 23 combined
0-60: 4.5 seconds (Car and Driver)
Also consider: BMW 235i, Audi A3, Genesis G70

The Good
• Rewarding performance
• Excellent handling traits
• Up-to-day technology

The Bad
• Missing performance engine note

The Ugly
• Tight rear seating