Brutal, uncompromising and totally track-focused, the SLS AMG Black Series is the antithesis of the typical comfort-first Mercedes Benz. It's the final and most extreme evolution of AMG's SLS supercar, as well as the division's soul-stirring 6.2-liter V8, and as such boasts a stiffened suspension, numerous lightweight carbon fiber components and a thunderous 622 horsepower.
First introduced back in 2006 as AMG's first in-house-developed engine, the 6.2-liter V8 is quick to rev and has developed a reputation over the years as a supremely powerful and glorious-sounding mill. Strict upcoming fuel regulations mean it's being phased out in favor of a more efficient twin-turbo 5.5-liter V8, but not before being installed under the hood of one more high-performance machine.
For duty in the SLS AMG Black Series, the mill receives a host of upgrades - including revised valve timing, shorter intake runners, forged hardware and optimized ignition timing that boosts peak cylinder pressure - that increase output from 583 horsepower in the SLS AMG GT to 622 ponies. Torque is rated at 468 lb-ft, and maximum engine speed is a sky-high 8,000 rpm.
Working in concert with the more potent engine to expedite acceleration is a wide array of mass-reducing components. The hood, underbody brace, driveshaft, torque tube and the panel aft of the seats are all constructed from carbon fiber, while a lithium-ion battery and a new titanium exhaust system remove further excess poundage. Buyers can even choose to delete the COMAND infotainment system to save 13 lbs.
Combined, these measures bring the curb weight down to a claimed 3,417 pounds - 154 pounds lighter than the standard model.
With a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox sending the V8's muscle to the rear wheels, the svelte SLS AMG Black Series is capable of rocketing from zero-to-60 mph in 3.5 seconds and achieving a top speed of 196 mph.
A coilover suspension with electronically adjustable adaptive dampers keeps the car under control and glued to the tarmac in turns, as do significantly firmer bushings, a widened track and an AMG rear axle differential lock. The trade-off for the highly agile chassis is a truly rock-hard ride - buyers should probably leave the SLS AMG Black Series at home if a journey calls for travel over less than perfectly maintained roads.
Race car-quality stopping power is provided by two-piece ceramic brakes with enormous rotors measuring 15.8 inches at the front and 14.2 inches around back.
Looking the Part
Polarizing though it may be, the SLS AMG Black Series has a visual presence that's impossible to ignore. It amps up the elegant, understated style of the normal SLS AMG GT with an aggressive body kit, larger front air intakes and matte black forged alloy wheels. A front splitter and rear diffuser - both constructed from carbon fiber - help to improve downforce, and vents mounted on the hood and aft of the rear wheels shed excess heat.
The optional AMG Aerodynamics package creates an even more extreme and functional look by adding a rear wing and unique winglets at the corners of the front fascia. Again, both are rendered in carbon fiber and serve to boost downforce.
Inside, the SLS' attractive cabin gets the performance-look treatment with center console trim built from (what else?) carbon fiber and an Alcantara-swathed, flat-bottomed steering wheel with a red marking at the 12 o'clock position. The AMG sports seats and dashboard are upholstered in premium "designo" leather, and the latter is distinguished by a "3D seam" of anthracite-colored Alcantara trim that spans its full length.
Fitted as standard is Mercedes' COMAND system, which integrates the supercar's audio, navigation and Bluetooth-based connectivity functions into a single unit - a seven-inch display screen mounted on the dashboard. It can be controlled either by voice commands, a central knob or steering wheel-mounted buttons.
The "entry-level" sound system is a six-speaker, 100-watt AM/FM/CD/DVD setup, but audiophiles will want to opt for the available 1,000-watt Bang & Olufsen upgrade unit with 11 speakers - including 250-watt subwoofers on the parcel shelves and two illuminated 50-watt tweeters on the dash. Bluetooth connectivity is standard, as is an iPod/MP3 interface.
The SLS AMG Black Series comes standard with dual front, side, knee and side curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems.
Power, performance, prestige - the SLS AMG Black Series has it all, but these qualities can also be found in the Ferrari F12berlinetta and the Lamborghini Aventador.