Mercedes-Benz has two distinct levels of awesome beyond its regular product portfolio. The first is AMG. That generally means that whatever you’re driving with that designation is going to go fast. The second is the AMG Black Series, which is more or less the equivalent of In-N-Out Burger’s secret menu. Where AMG is the automaker’s in-house skunkwerks, the Black Series is the cost-no-object extreme of what a vehicle can be.
Mercedes-Benz has made just four Black Series cars until now. Here’s the fifth: The 2014 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series, a lighter, quicker, more visceral version of its SLS AMG gullwing supercar, designed to pay homage to the GT3 race cars Mercedes-Benz has built from the SLS. Are you excited about it yet? You should be.
SLS stands for sport leicht super, or to you non-German sprichers sport lightweight super. Yet, at nearly 3,600 pounds, it’s not very lightweight. On the other hand, the Germans have taken the Black Series and obsessively pared weight off it, as if it were a girl going prom dress shopping or something. The result is a car that’s 154 pounds lighter than the standard beast, relying on a titanium exhaust system instead of steel, extensive use of carbon fiber, and carbon ceramic brakes as standard that should not only be able to dissipate heat better in high-performance driving but also cut more than 35 pounds off the final tally. The car even comes with a lithium-ion battery pack because, you know, it’s lighter. Enough said.
In addition, Mercedes-Benz is outfitting the car with a whole host of exclusive features like matte black wheels, a revised seven-speed dual-clutch automated transmission, and exclusive paint colors like the Solar Beam yellow you see above. Carbon fiber accents and a snazzy spoiler complete the look.
Engine and Drivetrain
Oh, but lightweight materials, a stronger frame, sportier suspension, and reduced weight aren’t all that make performance better. That 563-horsepower, 6.2-liter V-8 engine from the standard Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG has been replaced with a 622-horsepower upgraded version. With the aid of a new electronic locking rear differential that helps put the power to the pavement and the upgraded transmission, Mercedes-Benz estimates that the SLS AMG Black Series will accelerate to 60 mph from standstill in 3.5 seconds—0.4 second ahead of the standard car. But as we all know, the Germans are traditionally shy with stating their performance numbers. We expect this thing is going to be like lightning, or blitz, as the case may be.
Top speed is estimated to be 196 mph, which is the same it’s always been. It should be noted, however, that the SLS AMG Black Series has 39 more horsepower than the GT3 race car on which it’s based. But that car also comes in about 500 pounds lighter. You win some, you lose some. And unless your daily driver is a Nissan GT-R or a Bugatti Veyron, you’re probably not going to care too much.
While it seems like there’s a little going into a car that will likely command a significant premium over the $200,000 SLS AMG, we’re really only glossing over the surface. Nary a part hasn’t been changed in the name of speed, efficiency, or natural German obsessive-compulsiveness. They wouldn’t have sent us an 11-page press release if this car were simply a refresh. It’s a very thorough reworking.
We’re all about value here, and like most everything German, there’s a standard, over-engineered model, a version of that car with a five-digit tab added onto it in options, and then a “We’re just showing off now, ja?” version. Ja, Mercedes-Benz, you are just showing off with this one.
We like this car for what it is and how capable it will undoubtedly be. But we doubt anyone will ever use the car for going to track days. No, they’ll use their stripped out 1990s Porsches or old Mazda Miatas. This car will go on, sitting in some hoity toity Newport Beach showroom until some guy with $1,000 sunglasses comes in, buys it, and immediately drives it home to be his driveway candy.
As an engineering exercise, this thing is marvelous. But as a car, this thing is about as useful as going on a cross-country roadtrip in an electric Smart Fortwo. If you want one, Mercedes-Benz says the 2014 SLS AMG Black Series will be available starting in the summer of 2013.