With McLaren’s 12C now packing 616bhp, and the latest super sports cars from Ferrari and Dodge offering 651bhp – in the F12 Berlinetta, and 631bhp in the SRT Viper, AMG’s range-topping SLS gull-wing model was beginning to look a little ordinary.
No problem, that’s what the Black Series variants are for. From the standard car’s 563bhp at 6,800rpm and 650Nm of peak torque at 4,750rpm, the Black Series’ 6.3-litre V8 engine now generates 622bhp at 600rpm higher in the rev range and 15Nm less torque at 5500rpm.
If that sounds like the Black Series might not be ‘that much’ quicker than the regular SLS, fear not. At 1550 kg (DIN weight), the SLS AMG is some 70 kg lighter than the standard car, such that its 0-62 mph time drops two-tenths to 3.6 seconds with a top speed of 196 mph (1 mph less than the plain-Jane SLS AMG Coupé).
It’s the fifth Black Series model from Mercedes-AMG and is inspired by the SLS AMG GT3 racing model, which successfully competes in GT championships around the world.
“The new SLS AMG Coupé Black Series is a perfect study in the one hundred percent transfer of technology and engineering from motorsport to the road,” said Ola Källenius, Chairman of Mercedes-AMG GmbH.
The additional power from AMG’s naturally aspirated 6.3-litre V8 has been achieved by raising the maximum engine speed from 7200 to 8000 rpm, revising the high-speed valve train with modified camshafts, adapted cam geometry and optimised bucket tappets featuring a special coating normally only found on pure racing engines.
The air intake ducting has also be modified to improve air flow and supply the quantities of air needed at the higher engine speed.
The AMG engineers further optimised the crank assembly to supply more cooling oil, modified the oil bores in the crankshaft, fitted new crankshaft bearings, a new oil pump and high-strength screwed connections for the conrods. These changes are supported by an upgraded water and oil cooling system for the engine and transmission.
To achieve the NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) standards of Mercedes AMG’s road cars, the more highly-tuned V8 engine is now supported by gas-filled strut braces, eliminating the undesired load change during dynamic driving on the race track.
With greater power and performance, comes a more vocal exhaust sound – a newly designed AMG sports exhaust system, produced in titanium for the first time, features distinctive centre and rear mufflers which result in a louder and more striking sound.
The switch from steel to titanium has enabled a weight saving of just under 17 kg over the standard car’s.
The AMG Speedshift DCT 7-speed transmission sits 10mm lower in the Black Series and is braced against the body by gas-filled struts to isolate the car’s occupants from the stress of its faster changes.
In addition to an increase in shifting speed, the system’s response time to shift commands has been reduced, providing the driver with a sharper feel and more direct control during high-speed use.
AMG has added an automatic double-declutching function to the DCT transmission during downshifting, making the throttle blips more pronounced and audible – thanks to the new titanium sports exhaust system.
Additional driveline developments include the adoption of an electronically controlled rear-axle differential lock with a shorter rear-axle ratio, replacing the standard car’s mechanical arrangement.
The three-stage ESP system has been optimised to suit the new electronic differential, featuring ESP ON”, “ESP SPORT Handling Mode” and “ESP OFF” and RACE START modes.
The chassis layout remains the same, but barely a component has gone untouched in the interests of performance.
Apart from an overall firmer ride and the electronically controlled two-stage damping (Sport, Sport +), the Black Series receives wider front (+20mm) and rear (+24mm) tracks, new hubs, new front stabiliser bar, a more rigid front and rear axle and new coil-over spring retainers to enable adjustment of corner-weights at the track.
Newly developed Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres – 275/35 R 19 at front and 325/30 R 20 at rear – are fitted to forged lightweight alloy wheels (10″ x 19″ at front; 12″ x 20″ at the rear), while carbon ceramic brakes measuring 402 x 39 millimetres at the front, now provide the stopping power and reduce weight by around 40 percent.
Order books are now open, with deliveries expected in June 2013. Prices however remain a closely guarded secret, but with the regular SLS AMG Coupé starting from £168,425 you’d be well advised to begin writing that cheque with a ‘2’ as the first number.