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Mercedes the new black

The sharpest knife in the Mercedes-Benz kitchen is being readied to carve through the sports-car scene in Australia.

The Black Series development of the red-hot CLK63 AMG coupe should be capable of challenging Porsche and Ferrari when it lands in local showrooms next year.

It has 360kW, a 0-100km/h sprint time of 4.1 seconds and a top speed of 300km/h, right in the exotic league, and even comes with a stripped-out, race-style cabin with only two competition-style bucket seats.

The 'Black' car originally failed the test for Australia because it sat too low, but it is being tweaked by AMG in Germany and fast-tracked for deliveries next year.

“For sure, we want to do this. Next year will be the target,” AMG-Mercedes sales and marketing chief Mario Spitzner says.

“We are getting close. We are on the way.”

The regular CLK63 is already in the Mercedes-Benz line-up for Australia but the extreme machine, inspired by the silver star's racers in the German Touring Car Championship and the official Formula One pace car, has far more modifications.

The troublesome change is lower suspension. It means the car fell 4mm to 20mm below the official height limit for Australia, depending on how and where the car was measured.

Now AMG is working to raise the Black Series CLK to clear the bar and believes the work can be done without blunting the car's sharp focus.

“If it is feasible and we can technically do it, then why not?,” Spitzner says. “We have some fans down there. If there is the demand from customers then we can do it.”

Mercedes-Benz Australia believes it could sell as many as 50 cars, despite a price likely to be on the high side of $300,000.

“We need 30 cars to make this work for AMG and for us. But maybe we would take as many as 50,” Mercedes-Benz Australia spokesman David McCarthy says.

“But we think demand could be more than that. People are sick of common German sports cars and want something much more exclusive and focused, and with some room for luggage.”

The Black car is definitely focused. Its range of upgrades take it well beyond anything that has ever worn a silver star in Australia.

They include wider carbon-fibre guards, 19-inch forged alloy wheels, larger composite brake discs and a range of racy body changes that include a large front apron with cooling intakes for the engine and oil coolers, side skirts and a rear diffuser styled like an F1 car.

There's also a limited-slip differential, special exhaust, differential oil cooler, completely different suspension parts and settings, suspension braces in the engine bay and boot, and electronic systems such as stability and traction control, which is adjusted for track work.

The final decision on the Black Series deal will be made within a month. If the car is cleared, it could open the way for extra 'Black' edition models, including the SLK roadster that opened the action as a Benz for fast-car fans who want to put their cars to the sword on the track as well as the road.