Sometimes you wait for a bus for 25 minutes and then 3 arrive at the same time, this is exactly what happened with the new Cadillac CT sedans, Covid-19 meant delays in them reaching the West Coast fleet, then both the CT4 and CT5 arrived at the same time. I would have liked to drive them back to back, but scheduling wasn’t possible, so CT4 first then the CT5 in a couple of weeks.
The 2020 Cadillac CT4 is based on the outgoing ATS of which the ATS-V was a spectacular example, unfortunately, that replacement is yet to come, instead, Cadillac offers a mildly sporting V version which is more of a V-Sport in the meantime.
The CT4 has been created to take on the front-wheel-drive-based subcompacts from the premium brands like the Audi A3, BMW 2-series Gran Coupe, and Mercedes A-class, despite being larger (it’s a foot longer than the A3) than all those cars and being the only one with rear-wheel-drive.
It’s a good-looking car too, the rear is slender, and the slim LED headlights look cool and are echoed by the equally slender, curving tail lights, Cadillac has done a great job here. My 2020 Cadillac CT4 450T AWD arrived with a Black Raven exterior (not my first choice) and Cinnamon with Jet black accents inside. Wheels are 18-inch alloy fitted with 235/40 all-season run-flat tires with 11.8-inch front rotors.
It has a truck engine!
The base engine available on the Sport and Luxury models is a 2.0-liter inline-four good for 237 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. It comes standard with an eight-speed automatic transmission, active fuel management (it can run on two cylinders to save fuel) and rear-wheel drive, however, all-wheel drive is an option. The interesting part is if you spec the Premium Luxury model you get the option of a 2.7-liter inline-four that makes 310 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque and yes, it’s the same engine that is offered in the Chevrolet Silverado. The top-spec CT4-V gets the same 2.7-liter engine but gets a bump in power to 325 horsepower and 380 lb-ft.
The 2.7-liter engine option was checked on my Premium Luxury tester so gets the excellent 10-speed automatic which swaps cogs quickly and effortlessly. The bigger 4 is a large displacement (it’s the largest gasoline-powered automotive four-cylinder engine currently in production), so counter-rotating balancer shafts are needed to provide smoothness and cut down on the vibration inherent in larger displacement fours.
At the rear the new badging is somewhat confusing, the 2.7-liter engine is branded a 450T, which is supposed to be the torque number in newton-meters, but the math is a little off. Most Americans won’t be concerned since the metric system is completely foreign to them. With this new badge numbering system, the 2.0 is a 350T and the CT4-V is a 550T.
Cadillac says the 2.7 will accelerate from 0-60 in around 5.0 seconds and we have no problem believing that since the CT4 steps off the line smartly with no turbo lag at all, something Audi should take note of and then proceeds to pull like a train all the way through the rev range.
So what’s it like to drive?
This is the only CT4 I have driven so far and it’s checking the right boxes. On the road, it strikes a near-perfect balance between luxury and performance, it’s composed, quiet (in Stealth Mode) and has great overall driving dynamics.
Speaking of modes, there are some options, Snow/Ice, Tour, Sport, and My Mode. Sport is the most aggressive and the transmission holds onto the shifts longer and the steering is heavier. All that is great except the noise of the 2.7 four is set to very loud in the cabin and it’s not pleasant, more of a drone if I’m honest. That’s where My Mode comes in and to get the best experience you simply access it via the center screen, select My Mode, and set steering and brakes to Tour and the Engine noise to Stealth. Voila!
With these settings the CT4 is great, it steers great, takes the corners well, with a little body roll, and stops great now you have a much better pedal feel. The Sport mode for the brakes gives you everything in the first centimeter, making them difficult to modulate, so Tour is my choice.
At highway speeds, the CT4 is equally composed and ride quality is superb, far better than what the ATS-V provided. The brakes are excellent although the placement of the pedals is irritating, especially the brake. It sits higher than the accelerator, which means you must lift your foot instead of sliding it across from the accelerator to the brake. You get used to it but it’s not perfect.
The new interior is a huge improvement over the ATS’s cabin, the seats are extremely comfortable and supportive, and offer plenty of adjustment for both driver and passenger. The new interior now offers physical buttons to compliment the touch screen, a huge plus over the old touch-sensitive panels. We like knobs, knobs are good. All CT4s have an 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen, and we are told that a larger screen is coming. It’s easy to use, intuitive, and incredibly responsive. All other controls fall easily to hand, the HVAC is below the vents that sit below the infotainment screen and heated and cooled seat buttons sit below them, it’s very well laid out.
Space is somewhat at a premium, I’m only 5 ft 8 and my knees felt constricted in the driver’s seat, once I had found the perfect position. The same goes for the back, rear-seat space is average for this class, which is a mystery since the car is bigger than its competitors.
Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and an onboard Wi-Fi hotspot are standard, and the CT4 is fitted with GM’s new digital vehicle platform architecture, which is faster and accepts over-the-air updates. My tester had a base price of $37,495 and several options checked including the engine upgrade ($2,500), it’s worth every penny, AWD ($2,000), in California I could easily save on this and go RWD. The Navigation and Bose Surround ($1,700), the Climate Package ($1,200) which gives you heated and cooled driver and passenger seats, which I am surprised are not standard. Finally, the Driver Awareness Package ($800) has Following Distance Indicator, Intellibeam Headlamps, Lane Change Alert, Side Blind Zone Alert, Lane Keep Assist w/ Departure Warning and Rear Cross Traffic Alert taking the total options to $8,200.
Cadillac says they developed CT4 to appeal to youthful buyers in the luxury market who may be new to the Cadillac brand and that 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. For the most part, they have got it right, it is a great car, good to drive, and the optional 2.7 liter four is sensational. The fundamentals are there, just do something about making Sport Mode sound better and you have a highly entertaining and fun luxury sedan, for an as-tested price of $46,690, even less if you don’t go crazy on the options.
2020 Cadillac CT4 450T Numbers
BASE PRICE: $37,495
AS TESTED PRICE: $46,690
VEHICLE TYPE: Front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan
ENGINE: 2.7L Dual-Volute Turbocharged I4 DOHC with Active Fuel Management, direct injection and auto. stop/start
POWER 310 hp @ 5,600 rpm
TORQUE 350 lb-ft @ 1,800 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 10-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT: 3,780 lbs
Zero to 60 mph: 5.0 sec (est)
Top speed (governor limited): 140 mph
EPA combined/city/highway: 23/20/28 mpg
OUR OBSERVED FUEL ECONOMY: 18.4 mpg
PROS: Masses of torque, fun to drive, pleasant interior
CONS: Noisy in Sport Mode, cramped cabin