One of the weird tidbits of car news in the past year was the change in naming for the 2020 Cadillac CT6-V. When it was first revealed, it was called V-Sport, the term previously used for Cadillacs with more moderate performance upgrades than the full-blown V cars that possessed massive power outputs and serious track-going capabilities. But then, before the car in question went on sale, Cadillac changed the name to match the equally moderately sporty CT4-V and CT5-V that officially downgraded the V name. So what should we make of this CT6-V, then? Is it a hardcore performance machine like the old V cars? Or is it what we’re expecting of the new V cars: a lightly upgraded version of the base car that isn’t particularly distinguished? As it turns out, the CT6-V sits between these two extremes to create a car that’s involving and exciting for the driver without compromising the CT6’s refinement and luxury.
Mechanically, the CT6-V is ultimately closer to its full-bore V predecessors. The highlight is the “Blackwing” twin-turbocharged 4.2-liter V8 that makes 550 horsepower and 640 pound-feet of torque. Besides giving the engine prodigious output, Cadillac borrowed some pages from the AMG handbook: the turbocharger is nestled in between the cylinder heads, just like the current 4.0-liter AMG V8, and each engine is hand-built start to finish by one of six engine builders. The builder’s name is even featured in the engine bay. They’re special details that fit the idea of the old V cars, but the fact that a version of the same engine is in the Platinum CT6 does make its inclusion in the CT6-V seem less special, even if its output is notably less at 500 horsepower and 574 pound-feet of torque.
Setting aside the details, the engine performs well in the real world. It’s astonishingly smooth, exactly what you want from a fast flagship. It also emits a unique exhaust note that’s both raspy and growly. You won’t mistake it for a pushrod powerplant. The power and torque provide a prominent push at all points in the rev band after a brief moment for the turbos to spool up. It’s just a shame there isn’t much of a rev band, as the engine redlines at 6,000 rpm, which is easy to hit thanks to the engine’s creamy character. It’s so low one wonders why Cadillac bothered developing a double-overhead-cam engine at all.