"We don't know the price yet. Let's just say that it won't be crossed-shopped against anything from Hyundai". Photo Gallery
Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series is not a race car.
It looks like a racer and it goes like a racer and it's priced like a racer, but Mercedes-Benz wants you to think of it as just a wickedly quick SLS Coupe. The giveaway are the two words at the back of the package - Black Series.
Anything that leaves AMG in Germany with a Black package is right at the top of the tree, and right on the limit for what you can safely - and legally - drive on the road. The SLS is the fifth in a string of Black Series cars that began with a pocket-rocket SLK and most recently brought a CLK with Bathurst-style wings down under. The SLS Black Series still has the regular car's signature gullwing doors, and lots of luxury, but the upgrade is all about the numbers.
That means 464 kiloWatts, 635 Newton-metres, 3.6 seconds to 100km/h and 315km/h at the top end, and 70 kilograms lighter. With an engine that spins to 8000 revs, but also drinks fuel at a claimed 13.71 litres/100km. Did I mention a pricetag that easily tops $500,000 and a production run that means less than a dozen are coming to Australia.
"Yes, it is coming. We already have a handful of orders," confirms Mercedes-Benz spokesman, David McCarthy. There are already 69 Black Series cars in Australia, split between C63, CLK and SL models.
The SLS is the work of the talented and focussed engineers at AMG, the hot car headquarters for Benz in Germany and also the source of the E-Class lookalikes that will race in Australia's V8 Supercar championship from next year.
The style of the speedster is drawn from the GT3 racing version of the SLS, which is already winning in Australia. That explains the wild wings on the nose and tail, as well as the forged aluminium rims and the giant tyres.
But the Black Series car still comes with aircon and power steering and a top-end Bang & Olufsen sound system and the other stuff you expect in a top-end exotic. All of the running gear has been tweaked and tuned, from lower and stiffer suspension to bigger carbon-ceramic brakes and even a special lithium-ion battery and a carbon fibre-reinforced plastic tailshaft that weighs only 4.7 kilograms.
So, what's the bottom line? "We don't know the price yet. Let's just say that it won't be crossed-shopped against anything from Hyundai," laughs McCarthy. That means somewhere handily north of a half million, since the regular SLS coupe already lists at $468,320 in Australia.
But the price will not be a hurdle and McCarthy confirms SLS deliveries in Australia are currently closing on 100 cars, combining the gullwing coupe and the recently-introduced Roadster. The first Black Series cars will reach around the middle of next year, although Mercedes is considering an air-freight preview car - as it did this year with the CLK Black Series - for its customer drive day at Albert Park on the eve of the Australian Grand Prix.
"We might get one. We'll see," says McCarthy. But away from the track, is there any point to the SLS Black Series? "Does anything more powerful than a Suzuki Alto have a point in Australia?," fires back McCarthy. "No doubt some of the owners will take them on a racetrack. The point is that there will always be people who can appreciate what the car is about. We're in the business of fulfilling dreams."