Unless you’re a professional racing driver, chances are that a “regular” AMG-fettled Mercedes-Benz is more than quick enough for every occasion. Special editions, though, are a very nice way to attract a few more clients a make a buck or two in the process as well.
On the other hand, while many special or limited editions are the same-old package with a few “exclusive” extras thrown in to justify the price hike, the Affalterbach-based outfit does things the right way.
That’s why when Mercedes ordered AMG to produce a Black Series version of their SLS AMG supercar they did a thorough job, making changes in every aspect of the car.
Of course, there’s the usual marketing hype about the SLS AMG Black Series, only the fifth model ever to wear that label, being “inspired by the GT3 racer” and “the ultimate choice for fast laps and a highly emotional driving experience”.
As you’ve already read, the Black Series sports an extra 39HP compared to the recently revised SLS AMG GT, for a total of 622HP (631PS), though its maximum torque has dropped by 11 lb-ft to 468 lb-ft (634Nm). The 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) sprint takes 3.6 seconds, 0.1 seconds less than the non-Black Series SLS, which is not really that great of an improvement.
Even so, it’s interesting to find out what makes the 2014 SLS AMG Black Series, which goes on sale in the U.S. next summer at a yet-unspecified price, you know, special.
The 6.2-liter V8 now revs up to 8,000 rpm, instead of 7,200. It features revised camshafts and tappets utilizing race-developed coating, new engine mapping and modified air intake ducts to reduce airflow restrictions and adapt to the higher rev limit.
That’s not all: AMG’s engineers have optimized the crank assembly, modified oil bores, added new crankshaft bearings, a new oil pump and fine-tuned the water and oil cooling system for the engine and the transmission.
Moreover, the V8 is now mounted to the chassis by an additional gas-filled strut brace, which according to the company, eliminates load transfer during track driving. In addition, a titanium unit that’s 17 kg (37.5 pounds) lighter and emits an even more distinctive sound has replaced the stock model's steel exhaust system.
A weight-loss regime has also been applied to the bodywork and chassis, with elements like the hood, rear panel behind the seats, underbody diagonal braces, the torque tube between the engine and the transmission and a number of parts of the aluminum spaceframe chassis being manufactured from carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP).
Replacing the normal starter battery with a lithium-ion unit has reduced weight by a further 7.9 kg (17.6 pounds). All in all, the Black Series is 70 kg (154 pounds) lighter than the standard SLS and boasts a power-to-weight ratio of 5.49 lb/hp.
The dual-clutch AMG Speedshift DCT 7-speed gearbox is mounted 1 cm (0.4 inches) lower in order to attain an even lower center of gravity. It still features four drive modes but it has been recalibrated to reduce response time, blip the throttle automatically in downshifts and be more aggressive in the “Manual” and “Sport Plus” programs.
Even though the suspension retains the same basic double wishbone layout all around, it has received a number of modifications.
These include a revised power steering for better response, increased front and rear tracks by 2 and 2.3 cm (0.8 and 0.9 inches) respectively, new wheel mounts on the front axle, a new front stabilizer and front and rear axle elastokinematics made more rigid by 50 and 42 percent for greater stability in turns.
It also sports a tauter base setup for the electronically controlled suspension and lightweight, 10-spoke forged alloy wheels shod in 275/35 R19 front and 325/30 R20 rear Michelin Pilot Cup 2 tires.
The mechanical differential lock has been replaced by an electronically-controlled AMG unit that’s integrated in the transmission housing. It has a variable locking effect under acceleration and deceleration and increases stability by reducing yaw in the vertical axis.
AMG has also tuned all the electronic driver aids, namely the three-stage ESP electronic stability control system and the Race Start launch control to “cooperate” with the new differential in order to optimize traction.
As is the norm for the class, the SLS AMG Black Series features carbon-ceramic brakes as standard. They are two-piece units that measure 15.8 and 14.2 inches in diameter front and rear and reduce weight by 40 percent compared to steel/aluminum discs.
Subtle is not exactly AMG’s game lately, so as you can see in the images that follow, carbon fiber thrives on the front splitter and winglets, the air ducts behind the front wheels, the rear wing and the diffuser.
In the cabin, customers can combine the black “designo” leather with either black or red Alcantara trim. The flat-bottom steering wheel is wrapped in Alcantara for relaying the tactile racing feel to the driver.
Being a Mercedes, all the bells and whistles, including a Bang & Olufsen BeoSound 1,000-watt audio system with 11 speakers are present and accounted for, though, the owner can delete the COMAND multimedia system and have a piece of carbon fiber in its place. He or she will have just the V8 to listen to, but it will also reduce the car’s weight by an additional 6.0 kg (13 pounds).
By Andrew Tsaousis