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Cadillac brought the first-ever automotive V-8 to the market in 1914. Since then, V-8s have grown to become emblematic of American car culture. Cadillac’s mighty new Blackwing engine brings this longstanding American tradition into the future with its hot-V configured twin-turbo, and we sampled it from behind the wheel of the 2019 Cadillac CT6 Blackwing Platinum AWD.

Indeed, the launch of this twin-turbo V-8 was met with excitement within the automotive community, especially because it was destined for Cadillac’s flagship sedan. The full-size CT6 had, after all, made do with a 404-horsepower twin-turbo V-6 since its debut in 2015. And though there was nothing wrong about the 3.6-liter unit, it just seems right to have a V-8 back at the top of the luxury brand’s lineup.

2019 Cadillac CT6 Blackwing Platinum AWD: Proper Performance

In the 2019 Cadillac CT6 Blackwing Platinum AWD, the 4.2-liter engine churns out huge performance numbers. It sends 500 hp and 574 lb-ft of torque to the pavement via all four wheels, making the sport sedan good for a 0-60-mph time of 4.4 seconds. It certainly launches off the line with rabid enthusiasm, and the engine sounds good just about any time. Cold starts are simply ferocious; in my covered garage, the initial bark at startup was so loud, I worried it would literally wake up the folks who live upstairs.

Savage as the Blackwing engine barks, it settles down nicely for a civilized drive around town. The 2019 Cadillac CT6 Blackwing Platinum AWD whisks away with traffic with no fuss, playing the part of the dapper gentleman when it needs to behave. It’s a similar story when it comes to freeway cruising; the engine purrs with minimal revs thanks to a 10-speed automatic transmission.

I’ve used Super Cruise before and found letting the car steer on its own to be a pretty awe-inspiring experience, but the Blackwing’s potency inspired me to retain control when navigating Los Angeles’s interstate network. Throttle response is immediate; as long as the driver’s foot is on the accelerator, there’s a direct connection to a massive amount of power. However, rather than feeling like a high-strung performance engine, the 4.2-liter unit always feels under-stressed, even when the throttle hits the floor for a rapid lane change. Then, when it’s time to chill, the engine’s cylinder deactivation kicks in, dropping the total number of working pistons to four. This happens entirely in the background, with only a small icon on the digital dashboard indicating a change has occurred.

2019 Cadillac CT6 Blackwing Platinum AWD: Power Meets Sophistication

Fortunately, the CT6 has the suspension tuning to back up its sophisticated drivetrain. On the open road, Cadillac’s sedan maintains excellent composure, even on the bumpiest parts of Interstate 405 that tend to unsettle vehicles with lesser setups. While chassis control over imperfections is unflappable, this is a spot where I detected a bit more road noise than what’s ideal for a flagship luxury car.

Cadillac bills the CT6 as a “full-size sport sedan,” and fortunately the four door manages to live up to this hype in the corners, even with the additional mass of a V-8 under the hood. The magnetically adjustable active suspension continues to shine as the Caddy enters a corner, maintaining excellent body control all the way through.

Despite riding on all-season tires, which hold it back from its full potential, the 2019 Cadillac CT6 Blackwing Platinum AWD does an impressive job maintaining its grip on the tightest canyon roads. Exiting a bend, its all-wheel-drive system manages power and traction exceptionally. So long as you respect the car’s hefty 5,617-pound curb weight when slowing down for a turn, it feels fleet and nimble when driven with enthusiasm.

2019 Cadillac CT6 Blackwing Platinum AWD: The Future Is Plastic

My biggest sticking point with the 2019 Cadillac CT6 Blackwing Platinum AWD I tested is that it simply didn’t feel like a $88,790 car on the inside. The interior had way too much plastic to have such a hefty price tag. The steering wheel, for example, feels like it belongs in a Chevrolet rather than a Cadillac due to the chunky plastic buttons and a lack of other details and embellishments German rivals have successfully added to their helms. The transmission tunnel, for another example, is covered with a football field of plastic whereas other luxury marques provide luxurious padding in this place.

This isn’t to say the 2019 Cadillac CT6 Blackwing Platinum AWD is without its creature comforts. At its $98,095 starting price, there are plenty of standard features to keep every single occupant feeling cosseted. Up front, the seats are heated, ventilated, and are also equipped with massagers, creating an ideal road-trip environment. Rear passengers receive the same treatment, with controls located in the locking center armrest. The Panaray premium audio system sounds fantastic.

2019 Cadillac CT6 Blackwing Platinum AWD: Seductively Sculpted

Where I take issue with elements of the interior, I have no complaints about the CT6’s bodywork. The five-sided grille has presence without looking garish or oversized, and it matches the rest of the sedan’s crisp, clean, and muscular lines. Our test car rode on optional 20-inch wheels, a $700 upgrade—for that price, you may as well tick the box and give the exterior a sense of concept-car aspiration.

Where the exterior still looks fresh, some of the CT6’s technological aspects are starting to feel old. The infotainment screen is large, but the 10-inch display has slow graphics, even when Apple CarPlay runs. Despite having multi-view modes for parking, the cameras capture fairly low-resolution images, so it can be hard to see what’s outside of the car in much detail.

2019 Cadillac CT6 Blackwing Platinum AWD: Promise for the Future

Cadillac’s Blackwing engine is exceptional, but its refinement is let down by the CT6’s interior materials, which aren’t quite of high enough quality to contend with other brands in the field. If you can look past that, or in this case feel past the plastic, there’s plenty of performance and equipment to please on the daily, no matter how long the drive is. We certainly don’t want to see Cadillac stray from producing luxurious and fun-to-drive sedans, so we hope the small quibbles we have with this car are remedied with whatever product is on the horizon.

2019 Cadillac CT6 Blackwing Platinum AWD Specifications
PRICE$98,095/$98,795 (base/as tested)
ENGINE4.2L twin-turbo DOHC 32-valve V-8/500 hp @ 5,000 rpm, 574 lb-ft @ 3,400 rpm
TRANSMISSION10-speed automatic
LAYOUT4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, AWD sedan
EPA MILEAGE14/25 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H204.1 x 75.0 x 58.0 in
WEIGHT5,617 lb
0-60 MPH4.4 sec

The post 2019 Cadillac CT6 Platinum Blackwing AWD Test Drive appeared first on Automobile Magazine.

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