Seen in public first by Carsguide in AMG's German hometown of Affalterbach, the SLS Black Series - prior to being flown to the Los Angeles motor show for its public debut - has filled its 2013 quota of five and Mercedes Australia is scrambling for more.
The fifth rendition in the Black Series family is here in the second half of 2013 and Mercedes-Benz Australia already has five orders. “As it stands, our 2013 allocation is already allocated to customers,” says spokesman Jerry Stamoulis.
“We are now talking to AMG and attempting to secure more to fulfil a current wait list. “Realistically the total number will not exceed 10 cars for Australia. “The final price has not been set but it's likely to be similar to the SL65 Black Series which was around $700,000.”
The new SLS Black Series, inspired by the track-only SLS GT3, showed itself at Affalterbach finished in Solar Beam metallic paint and layered with exposed carbon-fibre components, black wheels and gold brake calipers.
Compared with the standard SLS, the Black Series is lower, hunkered down on its fat wheels and aggressive with its highlights of shining carbon fibre, its dominant rear spoiler and the brightness of its moor show colour. It looked like a glowing ember in the centre of an enormous, otherwise vacant warehouse amongst AMG's factories.
AMG engineer Alexander Weber says its specifications are closer to a GT3 car than a road car. “But the Black Series has a more powerful engine,” he says. It has a 6.2-litre M159 V8 engine with 464kW (631hp) - up 44kW on the SLS - but torque has been clipped back to 635Nm, down 15Nm on the SLS.
Part of the reason for the torque drop is simply that the coupe doesn't need it because it has a lower final drive ratio and weighs 100kg less than the standard SLS. Weber says the transaxle's drive ratio is 4.44, lower than the standard SLS at 3.67. “The steering ratio is also shorter.”
The engine is redlined at 8000rpm, up from 7200rpm in the normal SLS, allowing it to hit 100km/h from rest in 3.6 seconds and onwards to 315km/h. It has launch control - with software specifically tailored for this car - that allows for a 10 per cent slip for better acceleration.
“We changed a lot in the engine,” says Weber. “It has a new intake manifold - made shorter - and new valve gear that is a lot lighter. The oil circuit is new and so are the engine bearings. “We have reduced back pressure and fitted a 100 per cent titanium exhaust system.
“There is an improved cooling system that was developed for the race track.” Much of the performance increase has come from the weight-loss program. Weber says the weight has been dropped by 100kg to 1550kg. “The torque tube for the engine drive from the front mid-mounted engine to the rear transaxle is now made of carbon fibre,” he says.
“Previously it was aluminium and now the weight has come down to 13kg from 26kg.” Carbon-fibre and carbon compounds feature prominently, including trim in the cabin. It has compound carbon brake rotors and the rear spoiler is made of carbon fibre and tested in a wind tunnel to achieve downforce up by 40 per cent on the normal SLS.
Each wheel is forged and 1kg lighter than the normal wheels. In total there is a 16kg weight loss over the normal car because of the wheels and the compound carbon brake rotors. Tyres are Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 measuring 275/35ZR19 at the front and 325/30ZR20 at the rear.
Weber says the car has hydraulic engine dampers that are specific only to the Black Series. “These solve problems with preventing weight distribution as the engine moves during driving,” he says. “It means no two parts are moving against each other and therefore don't change the weight distribution and therefore don't affect the handling.
“This makes the Black Series a quicker car on the race track.” When asked, Weber says that other AMG cars may get this system to improve handling. The SLS Black Series is 26mm wider at the rear and 13mm wider at the front compared with the standard SLS.
“You can see this in the additional bulges over the wheels and the rear indicators which are sunk into the fender, not flush like the standard car,” Weber says. “The tracks are also wider - in fact, wider than a GT3 car.” Mercedes-Benz Australia says the car will arrive in Australia from the second half of next year and that most of the buyers who have placed orders are previous AMG owners.
The SLS Black Series is the fifth of this model line-up to be produced by AMG. The company started the Black Series with the SLK55 in 2006, following it with the CLK63 in 2007, SL65 in 2008 and C63 Coupe in 2011. Mercedes-AMG chairman Ola Kallenius says the latest Black Series “is a perfect study in the 100 per cent transfer of technology and engineering from motorsport to the road”.
He says the new gull-wing is “the ultimate choice for fast laps and highly emotional driving experiences” and is the “most dynamic gull-wing model of all time”.