Lap Time: 2:55.6
Class: LL3 | Base: $67,515 | As Tested: $78,985
Power and Weight: 472 hp • 3902 lb • 8.3 lb/hp
Tires: Michelin Pilot Sport 4S, F: 255/35ZR-18 (94Y) TPC R: 275/35ZR-18 (99Y) TPC
They say that when you summit a mountain, the journey is only halfway over. Reach the crest of the Climbing Esses and what follows is a blind left-hander with existential repercussions. Overdo it by a mere 0.1 mph and a very bad ending becomes a very real possibility.
After we went in a little hot and missed the turn-in point, the CT4-V Blackwing went into a lurid slide down the hill that ended in the grass, where a beefy right-front suspension member folded like a taco. The damage was more than the Cadillac engineers on site could rectify. So a call was made to GM headquarters, and a replacement CT4-V Blackwing was on a truck headed for Alton within a few hours.
Errors erode confidence, even when it's not the car's fault. The smaller Blackwing is a track star with rich feedback and secure handling. Sure, if you go directly from a 911 GT3 to the Cadillac, the sedan's turn-in response feels relatively sluggish, which could cause a late corner entry. But that's not the car's problem. Even with a second driver behind the wheel, we couldn't commit to taking the Esses the way Cadillac assured us was possible. The CT4-V Blackwing did average 121.4 mph—nearly 2 mph faster than the BMW M3—but it gave up a tenth or two on its potential.
With Performance Traction Management (PTM) in Race 2 (no stability control and track-tuned traction control) and the automatic shifting perfectly, the little 'Wing devours corner after corner, delivering a lap time nearly 11 seconds quicker than last year's CT4-V. But despite the Blackwing's having the advantage over the M3 at a number of apexes, the Cadillac gained time only in Sector 4. In those long high-speed corners, it's possible to overwhelm the rear tires with too much twin-turbo V-6. Fortunately, it's easy to catch, as the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires recover quickly from slides. A lot quicker than we do, apparently.