Three-box by name…The compact sedan market is currently emitting a series of death rattles in America, but the market for compact luxury sedans like Cadillac’s CT4 remains surprisingly healthy. That’s largely due to the enduring popularity of European sedans from the likes of Jaguar, Audi, and Mercedes. Cadillac has the badge appeal to repel this Atlantic assault, but the CT4 lacks style compared to its European competitors. The nose is fairly purposeful with four black air vents and fanged headlights, but the side profile is oddly jagged and the rear has the sort of fussy design aesthetic the Japanese and Koreans used to be guilty of. There’s a boxiness that doesn’t really work compared to the svelte Volvo S60 or the all-conquering BMW 3-Series.

Fortunes don’t improve inside, where the drab dash lacks points of interest and the cabin is a monochrome ocean. At least ergonomics are good; the eight-inch touchscreen is prominently positioned, and the controls beneath it are easily accessible.

Generous equipment. The CT4 isn’t much of a looker, then, but it compensates with some impressive equipment levels. Normally buying the cheapest model in the range is a shortcut to blank dash buttons and cloth trim, but even Premium CT4s come with power-adjustable synthetic leather seats, wireless smartphone charging, and remote start – all for less than $35,000. Real leather is losing its luster in today’s eco-conscious climate, but you only have to move up one trim level to Premium Luxury to bag a cabin full of hides. Higher trims bring additional goodies, though we’d be more interested in spending $2,000 to add all-wheel drive to the RWD-as-standard CT4.

Fans of vehicular automation should note Cadillac’s sophisticated Super Cruise hands-free driving system is available as an option. It’s expensive, but it transforms the freeway experience.

2022 Cadillac CT4 Interior

Turbos with every model. Buy a base CT4, and you inherit a two-liter turbo-4 engine that produces 237 horsepower. It’s actually more refined than the 2.7-liter turbo that can deliver up to 325 hp, though the latter is more responsive. The smaller engine has an eight-speed automatic transmission as standard, while the 2.7 receives a smooth ten-speed box. A stiff chassis combines smart cornering with a decent ride, while excellent handling is a cornerstone of the CT4 range.

Anyone who’s spent evenings at the drag strip watching nitrous-injected Beetles popping wheelies will be interested in the CT4-V Blackwing. Despite its silly name, this 472-hp monster will hit 60 in less than four seconds courtesy of a twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter V6. Paired with an optional six-speed manual transmission that offers downshift rev-matching, it transforms a family sedan into a track-ready supercar botherer. Stiff suspension tuning and grippy tires are counterbalanced by magnetic dampers, to ensure the ride isn’t ruined. It’s worth noting that Blackwing prices are nudging $60,000, which is higher than BMW’s equally thunderous (and more appealing) M340i.

Losing the space race. The CT4 is definitely a driver’s car, but passengers probably won’t be as complimentary. The presence of five seatbelts is hopelessly optimistic, and the rear quarters are cramped with limited legroom and not much headroom, either. An 11 cubic foot trunk seems inadequate given the car’s external dimensions, too.

Rear three-quarter vision is severely impaired, though blind spot monitoring is at least standard. There’s little safety data to draw on, but we can confirm every CT4 comes with active lane control and automatic high beams, while Super Cruise would be our first tick on the options list.

Final thoughts. If you’re young, free, and single, with limited cargo carrying requirements, the CT4 could be a great fit. It’s unusually driver-focused, combining tenacious handling with an accomplished ride and generous standard equipment. The Blackwing is wickedly good to drive, but even cooking models will entertain a keen driver on a winding road. Meanwhile, adding Super Cruise makes this a great freeway-buster alongside impressive safety levels (though there’s no crash test data to draw on yet).

If you have older children, the lack of rear space and cargo capacity will probably render the CT4 unsuitable. That’s no hardship since this sector is jam-packed with dynamically excellent competitors offering more stylish and tactile cabins containing far greater space. They’ll also return much better fuel economy, too.

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