The best luxury sport sedans have historically come from European automakers. But there’s one U.S. brand that isn’t ready to fully cede control: Cadillac. Its recently launched CT4-V Blackwing has a host of upgrades over the regular CT4 small sedan, including a muscular engine, sharper handling, more grip and distinctive styling.
It’d be hard to find a more appropriate rival than BMW’s M3, which has been a staple in the German brand’s lineup for decades. It too has numerous upgrades over a regular 3 Series to considerably increase performance. Which sedan is right for you? Edmunds compared them to find out.
POWER AND PERFORMANCE
Powered by a turbocharged 3.6-liter V6 with 472 horsepower and 445 lb-ft of torque, the Blackwing can rip from zero to 60 in a manufacturer-touted 3.9 seconds when equipped with its optional automatic transmission. A manual transmission is standard for the real-wheel-drive CT4-V Blackwing. While opting for it results in slower maximum acceleration than the automatic, it greatly increases driver engagement. Step on the brakes and the sedan stops with precision and steady smoothness.
BMW doesn’t back down with its M3. Under the hood is a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine that cranks out 473 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque in the base model or 503 horsepower and 479 lb-ft in the upgraded Competition model. You can get a manual transmission with the base M3, but the Competition is automatic-only. BMW’s M3 is better able to put the power down thanks to available all-wheel drive; with it, BMW says with it the M3 Competition rips to 60 mph in just 3.4 seconds.
Around turns, both sport sedans provide heroic levels of grip and poise. Yet it’s the CT4-V Blackwing that is ultimately more rewarding to drive. The steering is more lively and communicative, giving the Blackwing a more memorable personality than the M3.
Winner: CT4-V Blackwing
INTERIOR AND TECHNOLOGY
Inside the CT4-V, the top performance version of Cadillac’s CT4 small luxury sedan, very comfortable seats take top billing along with a straightforward 8-inch center touchscreen. Wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto are standard as is a well-designed native navigation system. Cargo space is on the tight side, however, with a trunk that holds only 10.7 cubic feet.
The M3’s cargo area is more generous, offering 13 cubic feet of space. Small storage spaces are also more plentiful in the BMW, with a large center storage bin and above-average door pockets. BMW’s M3 has folding rear seats, which gives it another advantage. Like the CT4-V Blackwing, the M3 comes standard with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto displayed on a new-for-2023 14.9-inch touchscreen. The BMW also offers 2.2 inches more rear legroom than the Cadillac.
The CT4-V Blackwing has plush and supportive front seats. Adding the available Climate package brings ventilation and massaging functions to the front seats, too. A standard adjustable suspension that continually adapts to the road surface provides a comfortable ride for a sport sedan, adding to the luxurious feel commensurate with the brand. Wind and road noise is also minimal, making this an easy performance car to live with.
The M3 mutes wind and road noise to a satisfactory level, but it’s not as quiet as the Blackwing when you just want a comfortable highway cruiser. The same goes for the suspension. It’s also adaptive but it tends to ride a bit more firmly than the Blackwing’s. Inside, the M3 that Edmunds tested had the car’s optional carbon-fiber bucket front seats. These have thick side bolsters that are great for keeping you in place on a racetrack, but they reduce comfort and the ease of getting in and out.
Winner: CT4-V Blackwing
FEATURES AND VALUE
Cadillac built a lot of value into this four-door car. A base CT4-V Blackwing starts around $61,000 and comes equipped with Brembo brakes and adaptive suspension dampers, among other performance niceties. It stacks up well against the competition.
Starting at $73,795, the M3 can be luxuriously equipped, but you’ll pay for it. Even a loaded Blackwing adds up to about the same price as a base BMW M3. Go for a top M3 Competition with all-wheel drive in a nicer paint color, with a few option packages added and you’re looking at a nearly $90,000 small sedan.
Winner: CT4-V Blackwing
The BMW M3 is, by most measures, still the benchmark for the class. It’s quicker and better equipped with the latest tech features than the Cadillac. But it loses points in the more emotional aspects of the sport sedan experience. Factor in the superior value of the Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing and you’ve got a winner for the hometown team.
Kristin Shaw is a freelance writer at Edmunds and is on Twitter.