A Black Series. A tag only worn five times before, and even though the first time it appeared was on an SLK don’t let that detract from what it stands for. A Black Series Merc is a wild thing, lighter, faster and harder as the standard recipe goes, but somehow very much its own car – no-one else builds anything quite like a Black Series.
It’s taken AMG a while to build up to this. The first AMG GT arrived back in 2015, it was followed by a faster, better controlled GT C, then an even faster and much better controlled GT R. Merc had made a lot of changes for the GT R, and you could tell, it was a huge step forward, a car to take the fight to the Porsche 911 GT3. To make sure about that, they then did a GT R Pro with an integrated roll cage and manually adjustable suspension – much like a GT3 RS.
Now AMG has added another 160bhp to the mix and the only rival they speak about is the Porsche 911 GT2 RS. There’s much, much more to the Black Series than the extra power, but it’s a good place to start. Still a 4.0-litre twin turbo V8, but now so fundamentally updated that it uses a flat-plane crankshaft instead of a cross-plane. Traditionally, flat-planes don’t sound as good as cross-planes, but they are more efficient and potent – engineers talk about more uniform pressure in the intake and exhaust tracts, making it easier to boost power. Which they have by fitting the turbos from the AMG GT 4dr, which have an 18 per cent higher maximum flow rate than the GT R’s. So there you go.
Whipping through the rest of it: same seven-speed twin clutch transaxle gearbox, but with shorter ratios, carbon fibre bonnet, roof and boot, thinner glass front and rear, ball joint bearings for the rear wishbones, preload-adjustable coilover suspension (adaptive dampers are also fitted) with a 10mm ride height drop, adjustable torsion bars front and rear, additional underbody strengthening, soft compound Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2R tyres and manually adjustable aerodynamics.
Yes, manually adjustable. At the front you have to pull out the carbon splitter (it extends about 80mm), which has a huge effect on speeding up air underneath the car, increasing downforce, while at the back, both upper and lower wings have three different positions. Maximum downforce is 400kg at 155mph, or 800kg at vmax (202mph). The upper wing also has an electronically controlled flip-up centre section to maximise stability under heavy braking.
Overall, it’s 1,520kg – some 50kg heavier than the GT2 RS (not to mention over 180kg meatier than the super-svelte McLaren 765LT), meaning it’s only 35kg lighter than the GT R – although think of the weight inserted (roll cage, wings etc) to realise that a lot has been taken out. Favourite bit of weight saving? Undoubtedly the world’s first carbon fibre transmission mount, half the weight of aluminium and made from a single strand of carbon wound around a series of aluminium posts up to 40 times. You have to see it to believe its fibrous structure.
First cars arrive this autumn, having set their owners back £335,000 plus options – way over twice the price of a regular GT R, over £100,000 more than the now-discontinued GT2 RS and £50,000 more than the McLaren 765LT. That’s a whopping figure, especially since it’s not a limited series car. Instead, AMG says it will make as many as people want over the course of the next year. The Black Series is special – we haven’t seen one since the mighty 1,550kg, £230,000 SLS Black back in 2013. It was epic and claimed inspiration from the GT3 racing car. And so does the latest one. But in its wildest dreams the SLS would never have been able to get round a racetrack just five seconds behind a GT3 car. That’s the claim for the GT R Black Series and as we shall see, I don’t think it’s wide of the mark.