Hey Cadillac, V Is for What Now?

ICYMI: Milder V models replace the V-Sports.

If you find Cadillac's newton-meter badging confusing, wait until you get a load of its new sedan strategy. The two surviving sedans would seem easy to categorize, with the Cadillac CT4 replacing the luxury-compact ATS and the CT5 replacing the luxury-midsize CTS. The full-size CT6—Cadillac's best and most advanced car in decades—ends production in January.

Both CT4 and CT5 carry forth on an updated version of the rear-wheel-drive Alpha platform. The CT4 is about 0.8 inch wider but has roughly the same wheelbase and approximately the same overall length as the ATS (Cadillac has been vague with specs thus far), though with a better rear-seat package made possible by a redesign of the interior. The CT5 is 1.7 inches shorter overall than the outgoing CTS, but its wheelbase has stretched by 1.4 inches.

The CT4 remains in the same size category as the BMW 3 and 4 Series and Mercedes C-Class, though Cadillac says main competitors for its 2020 CT4-V are the entry-compact front-drive Audi A3, Mercedes A-/CLA-Classes, and the upcoming rear-drive BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe.

Similarly, Cadillac names the BMW M340i, Audi S4, and Mercedes-AMG C 43 and not the more powerful M550i or AMG E 53 as competition for its 2020 CT5-V. Why? Cadillac has retreated from taking on the Germans directly in prestige and price point in favor of its old bargain-premium strategy. These two mild V models replace the V-Sports (see Mercedes-AMG's 43 and 53 variants), with high-performance "track-model" Vs coming later. Cadillac slipped camouflaged CT4 and CT5 "track" models on the circuit before last June's Belle Isle Grand Prix, showing off cars with more aggressive spoilers, grilles, and black wheels. They're expected to come with Cadillac's exclusive Blackwing 4.2-liter twin-turbo V-8, which until now was assigned to just the lame-duck CT6-V.

There are no plans for a two-door CT4 as of now, says the model's chief engineer, Rob Kotarak, and we don't expect a manual transmission option for any variant of either car, though the track models could get the mid-engine Corvette's dual-clutch transmission.

"The 10-speed was obviously the ultimate match" for the CT4-V, which of course will come with paddle shifters, Kotarak says. Cadillac will add a semi-autonomous Super Cruise option to '21 CT4s and CT5s.

Those inscrutable newton-meter badges appearing on the rear deck of the new Caddies could be used as nomenclature delineating the standard Vs from the track models. The 2020 Cadillac CT4-V's "500" badge refers to the 369 lb-ft (500 Nm) of torque generated by its 2.7-liter turbo-four, which also makes 320 hp. The engine is a version of the 2.5-liter naturally aspirated Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon engine and features a three-step sliding camshaft to optimize performance at different speeds.

The CT5-V will come with a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 making 355 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque (rounded up to 550 Nm). The standard engine on the base Cadillac CT5 is a 2.0-liter turbo-four.

The two Vs are more balanced for ride and handling, Kotarak says. In the CT4-V, a new upper shock mount will replace an upper jounce-bump mount for more suspension travel. Both Vs will come with next-gen MagneRide 4.0 dampers and be the first offered with all-wheel drive.

Summer tires come with RWD V models, and AWD versions get all-seasons. After these sedans debut, the all-new 2021 Escalade, finally with independent rear suspension and design cues from the Escala concept, reclaims the mantle as the marque's flagship.

On Sale: CT4-V: Late 2020; CT5-V: Early 2020
Base Price: CT4-V: $42,000 (est); CT5-V: $50,000 (est)

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