Exclusive: Photos Show the Wilder Cadillac CT5-V Will Have a Manual Transmission

What Cadillac's calling the "ultra-performance" CT5-V will have a proper stick shift.

cadillac ct5-v spy
The Drive

The 2020 Cadillac CT5-V is... different. And that's not a bad thing! Cadillac's decision to spread the V performance nameplate around and make more balanced versions of earth-rending monsters like the 640-horsepower CTS-V resulted in a damn fine car, even if it's got a twin-turbo V6 in lieu of a supercharged V8. But we've known all along that Cadillac was planning on bringing the thunder back in a faster, more track-capable model—and exclusive photos obtained by The Drive show this unnamed CT5-V performance variant will have a manual transmission.

These four pictures—two showing the rear of the car, and two showing the interior—were taken last week by a source at a GM facility. Anonymous rumors of the stick-shift CT5-V flagship popped up earlier this year, but this marks the first concrete proof that Cadillac is holding on to the manual transmission. Even more exciting: it's reportedly connected to a V8 engine, backed up by spy video clips in which a distinct eight-cylinder soundtrack can be heard.

The Drive

The culprit is expected to be the same supercharged 6.2-liter LT4 V8 previously found in the CTS-V and currently used in the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1—not the specially-developed Blackwing, sadly. But it's a massive V8 nonetheless, making 650 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque in the ZL1. Even the shape of the manual gear shifter itself looks identical to that of the Camaro, right down to the detail lines on the side. The connection makes sense because both cars ride on GM's shining Alpha 2 platform, and if there's one thing the world needs, it's more three-pedal Alpha cars.

We reached out to Cadillac for comment, and the automaker didn't exactly refute this report.

"The ultra-performance variants of our Cadillac CT5-Vs are still under development," a spokesperson said. "We will have more details to share in the next few weeks and the CT5 and CT4 ultra-performance versions will debut later this year. Until then, I can only confirm that these cars will build on V's respected legacy."

We've blurred the background on the exterior shots to remove some identifying details. There's no mistaking the rear end of the car for anything else, with the familiar badging, body lines, and fastback design. But it looks like the "ultra performance" CT5-V will be offset from the lesser models out back with a tweaked diffuser, blacked-out exhaust tips, and fatter, stickier tires. Below these two images you'll find a merged version that, while not perfect, gives the fullest look yet at the undisguised car.

The Drive
The Drive

Inside, you've got the same basic layout of the lesser 2020 car—same dashboard and infotainment design, same center armrest, same trim details—with a few notable differences, headlined of course by that manual shifter. Fitting that blessed stick meant reorganizing the entire center console, so gone is the infotainment system's rotary controller and the storage cubby located next to the automatic model's tidy shift-by-wire gear selector. 

There are also at least three buttons flanking the bottom of the manual shifter, presumably the drive mode and traction control switches that used to be located ahead of the automatic lever.

The Drive

A different steering wheel graces the stage bearing a few true surprises. One is the new V button located on the left side which, if we're using other manufacturers as guides here, will put all the CT5-V's various systems into their most track-ready modes. The metal/carbon fiber trim on the bottom spoke also pops out.

Then there's a big fat red line at 12 o'clock on the wheel, a longtime racing technique (traditionally done with a piece of tape) for drivers to mark dead center and keep track of exactly how far they're turning the wheel in either direction. It's more of a statement of intent than anything—other manufacturers have gone there for the hell of it—but it certainly doesn't hurt the car's performance image.

The Drive

The standard CT5-V’s sport seats have been replaced with buckets that appear to be Cadillac-spec variants of the GT2 seats found in the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray with different bolstering and trimmed in patterned leather.

The Drive

Without confirmation on the engine, a front-end photograph, or more detailed pictures of the interior, there's not much else to be divined from this leak. But does that really matter? We now have unvarnished, unequivocal proof that the real CT5-V will stand up with a manual transmission—a wonderful addition to an already stellar car—and if the sourcing elsewhere is correct and it's paired with the big LT4, it'll finally be the midsize rocket everyone was hoping for in the old ATS-V. 

What a plot twist it would be for Cadillac of all outfits to sell the world's last stick-shift, V8 sedan. Whatever bones we've picked with the company's marketing missteps or product decisions, this is a virtuous effort worthy of public congratulations. Maybe a parade, even.

The Drive

Given how complete this car looks, there's a chance Cadillac is planning on showing it off at the New York International Auto Show next month. If it actually takes place, that is.

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