Two of the most impressive sports sedans ever made, the BMW M5 and the Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing go head to head to determine a winner.
In the history of sports sedans, BMW has a special place. While not solely responsible for the segment, BMW was partially responsible for proving that four doors and fast could go together. Today, the M5 is unequivocally one of the most impressive four-door sedans on the market. On the other hand, Cadillac has been largely known for big, unathletic sedans for most of the last fifty years. Recently though, they’ve been hard at work at changing that stereotype and the CT5-V Blackwing is the culmination of that effort. Can it really beat the tried and true M5? Read on to find out.
The BMW M5 is motivated by a 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8. It sends power to all four tires through a conventional 8-speed automatic gearbox. In base form, it develops 600 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque. According to the EPA, it gets 15 mpg in the city and 21 on the highway and it starts at about $105,000 with prices climbing to more than $143,000 for the rarified M5 Competition Sport or CS. It tips the scales at 4,096 pounds.
Cadillac approaches the CT5-V Blackwing slightly differently. It starts at just $92,390 and weighs an almost identical 4,092 pounds. Under the hood is another V8, though this time it’s supercharged and develops 668 horsepower and 659 lb-ft of torque. With that extra grunt lower fuel economy numbers follow and if you select the three-pedal manual transmission the EPA estimates that you’ll get 13 mpg in the city and 21 on the highway. That’s right, you can buy the CT5-V Blackwing with a stick. A 10-speed automatic is also available but either way, power is set to the rear wheels only.
It might sound like any car with some 600ish odd horsepower is going to be a good time but that’s not the case. That sort of power requires quite a lot of technology if the driver is going to wield it with any sort of deftness or precision. That combination of power and scalpel-like sharpness is what has made the M5 a household name and it’s on display here once again. Normally, 0-60 times in the 2.6-second range, where the M5 lives, are reserved for all-electric cars like the Tesla Model S Plaid or actual supercars like the Ferrari SF90 Stradale. This four-door sedan is actually faster from 0-60 than any production Lamborghini in history.
Still, it’s not just straight-line speed that matters here. The M5 can handle turns like it magically lopped off about 1,000 pounds. Not only do the pedals provide nearly perfect feedback in any situation, but the sophisticated suspension at play smoothes out the road and provides so much more grip than one might expect from a car that’s this heavy. It also stops like it’s much lighter too with excellent bite and fabulous feedback that seems unphased by multiple hard braking events. As a package, the M5 is far above reproach. The only downside is that steering feedback could be better. It’s too muted at times and can leave you less confident during really hard cornering events.
Cadillac takes a slightly more brutal approach towards its performance sedan flagship. The CT5-V Blackwing isn’t as quick from 0-60 for instance, requiring almost a full additional second (3.4 auto / 3.6 with the manual) to do the deed when compared to the BMW. That second isn’t made up over the course of a quarter mile either where the M5 is again about a second faster. Nevertheless, it’s worth pointing out that the experience in the CT5-V Blackwing is far more theatrical. Sure, the BMW kinda sounds like a supercar on startup, but the Blackwing sounds like a pissed-off Corvette almost all of the time.
Interestingly, the CT5-V is quicker from 30 to 50 and from 50 to 70 than the BMW and that’s the kind of driving that most of us would be doing with it. The supercharged V8 is a monster that’s been forced to channel its rage through two sticky bits of rubber and we couldn’t be more impressed. Unlike the BMW, feedback from the steering wheel is as verbose and clear as your local debate champion, and the pedals are equally communicative. This isn’t your daddy’s Cadillac anymore, in fact, he probably wouldn’t even recognize it. In terms of the driving performance and experience on its own, the CT5-V Blackwing might be the most impressive sports sedan we’ve ever had the pleasure of thrashing.
BMW might not offer a warm and inviting cabin but what nobody will complain about is how well appointed it is or how meticulously crafted it feels. The fit and finish across every surface is simply outstanding and the ergonomics are above average too. BMW continues to use physical knobs, buttons, and switches for important functions which we love. The seats are very supportive and highly adjustable. Rear seat space is copious too so the opportunity to sling a few friends around the racetrack is always available.
If there’s any real issue with the Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing it’s with regard to interior quality. Don’t get us wrong, this is one of the nicest GM products ever save for the new Lyriq EV and the GMC Hummer EV, but there are still some parts bin additions here. The buttons, for instance, look and feel cheap. Of course, it’s easier to overlook those things when coddled by the massaging seats as you look out over an Alcantara steering wheel at the massive bulge on the hood. Thankfully, it features excellent ride comfort overall, and in fact, we like it more than the BMW which is quiet and comfortable too but can be a bit harsh even in its softest setting.
The BMW M5 comes in three distinct flavors. The base M5 makes 600 horsepower and comes standard with 19-inch wheels, adaptive dampers, quad-zone automatic climate control, heated front sport seats, a heads-up display, a 12.3-inch infotainment system, and 16 speakers. It also has automatic high beams, blind-spot monitoring, forward collision mitigation, and adaptive LED headlights.
Buyers can step up to the M5 Competition or Comp package which adds 20-inch wheels, a sports exhaust system, premium leather upholstery, a lower suspension, and dark exterior accents. It also gets a baby boost of power to a total of 617.
At the top of the list is the M5 CS. It gets another small boost with a factory rated 627 horsepower. Torque is unaffected. Still, this trim adds carbon-ceramic brakes, a top speed of 190 mph, ambient interior lighting, and special bronze Y-spoke wheels.
Cadillac makes just one main trim level of the CT5-V Blackwing. Underneath it is a number of other CT5 trims but only the Blackwing comes with unique 19-inch wheels, a 10-inch infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, a 15-speaker AKG sound system, a heads-up display, a digital driver information display, track mode which prioritizes the tachometer, 18-way power-adjustable seats, a launch control mode, and blind-spot monitoring.
Buyers can add other options like adaptive cruise control, carbon-ceramic brakes, two levels of carbon fiber trim treatments, a performance data recorder, a parking package, and a faux suede-wrapped steering wheel.
Nobody who buys a BMW M5 is going to be displeased with its performance envelope or its interior. Of course, they’re going to spend more to ensure that and because of that we think the CT5-V Blackwing has to be our winner. It’s not as quick in a straight line but it’s as fast if not faster around a track and in the real world where it counts most. Add some stickier rubber and it’ll be even more impressive. Ultimately though, it’s also an excellent everyday driver and that’s why it’s our winner. That combination of poshness and performance is now unbeaten.