Bespoke 550HP V8 Might Be What Cadillac Needs To Head Upstream

After taking the seat at the head of Cadillac back in 2014, Johan de Nysschen has been making a lot of changes to make the American brand more of a luxury marque to compete with Mercedes-Benz, Audi, BMW, and Lexus. One thing that’s missing from its CT6 flagship sedan is a high performance version. But that’s been taken care of, and Cadillac’s better for it.

Last year, I got to drive the CT6 over a 900-mile trip and I came away from the journey impressed with the sedan. It was incredibly comfortable, had all of the features under the sun, and the Super Cruise system did just as advertised on the highway.

One thing I wasn’t a huge fan of was the engine. The CT6 Platinum I drove was equipped with a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6. Sure, the motor made 404 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque, but for a $90,000 flagship sedan, it just didn’t feel right. It was more than ample enough to get the CT6 down the road in quite a hurry, but it lacked character and the V8 soundtrack that I was so looking forward to.

Cadillac has finally brought a V8 to the CT6. As Automotive News points out, the new 4.2-liter twin-turbocharged V8 motor is the first time in 26 years that Cadillac has its own bespoke engine.

Cadillac 4.2-liter twin-turbo V8

The twin-turbo V8 generates a tidy 550 hp and 627 pound-feet of torque. That’s not as powerful as the Mercedes-AMG S63, which has a 603-hp 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8, but it definitely doesn’t lack for power.

The engine ushers in a new era for Cadillac, as the motor has a “hot V” setup where the turbos fit nicely in between the heads. In addition to reducing turbo lag, the design also means the engine is relatively compact. The engine’s ‘smart’, too, as four of its cylinders can be deactivated for better fuel efficiency.

While we could go really in depth on the engine itself, it all reveals that Cadillac has thought this through. It’s fed up playing second fiddle to everyone else and wants to prove to everyone that it really is an upscale brand. To that end, the engine will reportedly be hand-assembled in Bowling Green, Kentucky, by a single engineer who will sign his name on a special plaque, which is similar to what another premium automakers do.

Cadillac 4.2-liter twin-turbo V8

How important is an engine to a car? Extremely. For example, the Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86 twins got a lot of flak for not being available with a more powerful engine. It’s also one of the reasons why it’s hard for enthusiasts to name a clear winner between the Chevrolet Camaro SS and Cadillac ATS-V. The ATS-V may be one of the best handling cars on the road today, but the Camaro SS, especially in 1LE guise, is a heavy hitter that will have you questioning the $20,000 difference.

The CT6 won’t be the only Caddy to receive the 4.2-liter twin-turbo V8. It’s been reported that the Escala Concept could enter production, and the V8 would be a nice fit for the sleek sedan. It’s been awhile since anyone was excited by a new Cadillac, but perhaps de Nysschen and his team are finally kick-starting the revolution they promised us.

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  • Six_Tymes

    its all very impressive. the tech and the style. I hope to see this at the auto shows. will it be there?

    • AstonMartin

      Yes, beginning with the NY Auto Show next week. I’m very enthusiastic about the direction of the Cadillac brand.

  • Craig

    A nice BIG Cadillac badge WITH a wreath would look ‘just right’ in the middle of that grill. That said…. this is the first CT6 that I might like to own.

  • stelvio

    Can a typical Cadillac driver handle all 550hp?

    • Bo Hanan

      No! And Caddy doesn’t understand that. They are just checking off the “Merc & BMW have TT-V8’s and now we do too” box.

      • javier

        aren’t they trying to move the avg age of the typical cadilac driver younger ? Does the typical cadilac driver choose the 550 hp model? With all the electronic nannies involved is 550 hp that big a deal?

        • Bo Hanan

          550HP in BMW & Merc is not the same as 550HP in Caddy. 2 of these cars are actually sports cars. 1 is a 4 door with 550HP.

          • bd0007

            Except when it comes to handling.

    • eb110americana

      The CTS-V has had 640 hp since 2016, and had 556 hp from 2009-2015. It’s not like Cadillac owners have been “going all Mustang” on unsuspecting crowds for the last 9 years. But you’re right, all those Housewives of Miami rolling around in Mercedes are Le Mans-qualified race car drivers, so Cadillac really ought to know their place.

      • stelvio

        Yeah but those housewives of miami are on diapers.

    • Cobrajet

      If they can handle 500ci.

  • Merc1

    They now how a solid lineup of engines, two killer V8s and one really good turbo V6. Drop all the rest, especially the trash 4-cylinder. They have the dynamics down pat. BMW and Mercedes have been beaten there. Where Cadillac falls down is interiors, styling, build quality. All the things that make cars actually sell to real people, not magazines. Fix those things and you can take a seat at the big boy table for real. Cadillac’s interiors are their weakest point. They need to have the same effect like an S560 or A8 when you open the door of a car like the CT6.


    • bd0007

      The ’19MY CT6 already drops the turbo-4 from its line-up.

      Styling is covered by the new Escala-influenced design language; see some of it in the facelift for the CT6, but the next gen model will get the full-on Escala influence.

      As for the interior, the CT6 could use a more cohesive design with a more cohesive use of materials.

  • Shane

    I’d prefer the TQ to Hp, especially in something like this. It’s kind of like a Harley. You know you won’t be the fastest but it’s still a blast to crack the throttle in any (reasonable) gear.

  • eb110americana

    The 26 year number must refer to the Northstar, although there were much newer versions of that engine than a quarter century ago. There was a 4.4L longitudinal supercharged version of the Northstar in the 2006-2009 STS-V sedan and XLR-V hardtop convertible. No other GM product ever used this engine apart from these two Cadillacs. The Northstar was originally a Cadillac-only engine introduced in the 1993 Allanté convertible, later appearing in the Seville SLS/STS, Eldorado, DeVille DTS, and SRX crossover. There was a unique 4.0L version used in the first 1995-2003 Oldsmobile Aurora and oddly, the Shelby Series 1 and 2 roadster (also through Oldsmobile) and a turbocharged version in Cadillac’s LMP Le Mans racing effort. Later, a few of the large GM sedans inherited the last of the FWD 4.6L Northstar V8s: the 2004-2005 Pontiac Bonneville GXP, the 2006-7 Buick Lucerne CXL (opt.) & CXS, and the 2008-2011 Lucerne Super.

    Currently, Cadillac enjoys exclusive use if the 3.0L turbocharged V6 outputting 404 hp and 400 lb. ft. torque. As far as I know, the CT6 is the only current car to use this engine. Likewise, the 3.6L turbo engine in the ATS-V (464 hp, 445 torque) is an exclusive. Even the 3.6L turbo motor in the V-Sport versions of the CTS and XTS is a Cadillac-exclusive. You could say those engines are “derived” from existing architectures–but they are still quite distinct from any other engine.

    • Merc1

      Interesting, and I remember all those cars when they were new. I think the Grand Prix GXP also used the same V8?


      • eb110americana

        Nah, the Grand Prix GXP used the only transverse version of the smallblock LS V8: the 5.3L LS4 (303 hp, 323 lb.ft.).

        • Merc1

          And that was the same engine in the FWD V8 version of the Impala a few years later?


          • eb110americana

            I think they all came out around the same time (maybe one year after for the Chevys): The Impala SS, Monte Carlo SS, Grand Prix GXP, and a little later on, Buick LaCrosse Super.

  • SteersUright

    Right engine. Wrong car.

    They finally appear to have a whopper of a great V8 engine, a truly exciting powertrain given the 10-speed can crack off shifts as fast as the German’s dual clutch units. However, the CT6 itself is only average at best at its $90k price point. The rest of the car desperately needs to catch up to this new engine.

    • Bo Hanan

      Well put.

    • bd0007

      The CT6 is being repositioned as Cadillac’s E Class/5 Series competitor.

  • Vassilis

    Very interesting engine.

  • Craig

    Apparently…. this same engine but with 500 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque will be available on NON V-Sport models of the CT6.

  • Sukhoi31m3

    The only thing that concerns me about this engine is the hot V configuration. That’s concentrating a lot of heat in a small area. And the body will be shrink wrapped around that engine which also presents some engineering challenges. I hope they tested this thing in Phoenix, Az in the summer, ‘cause if they did, and it survived, GM has a winner on its hands. Didn’t BMW have some problems with this same type of engine in the M5?…..


    built in Bowling Green, which means this engine will be the mid level option on the C8 mid engine 2019 Vette and the upcoming Caddy mid engine halo car

  • christopher

    This is the de-tuned mid-engine Corvette engine.

  • TheBelltower

    This engine will probably provide a ton of street cred and editorial coverage for the CT6. However, it’ll be the exterior and interior updates that will make this car desirable enough to get people to part with their money and buy one. The original CT6 was a looker from certain angles, but it was awkward from other angles. This looks like it has a much better road presence from the front and also a lot more visually interesting from the rear.

  • bd0007

    Uhh, ever hear of the CTS-V with 640HP?

    OK, maybe not the “typical” Cadillac (or any luxury sedan) driver, but it’s not like CTS V-Sport or the Escalade with over 400 ponies are anything rare.

  • bd0007

    Most future Cadillac models will be getting electrification via Volt/Bolt tech.

    Even with that, a luxury brand still needs a modern V8 (a V10 or V12, not so much).

  • getoffme

    I can not go over the XTS look. lol

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