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Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series 2022 review: track test

Powering the Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series is a mighty 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8.
EXPERT RATING
8.4
The pinnacle of Mercedes-Benz performance is known as the Black Series, and to date, only five models have been deemed worthy of wearing such a hallowed name. In 2021 however, a sixth nameplate will join the Black Series ranks in the form of the Mercedes-AMG GT, but can it be different enough from the GT, GT R and GT Pro to earn its place?

Look, I wouldn’t say I’m a trepidacious person by any means, I watched The Exorcist. in my teenage years and managed to get through all of Hereditary without looking away, but the thought of piloting the Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series around Phillip Island is definitely enough to give me pause.

Maybe it’s because of the strictly limited production numbers of the latest Black Series, with only 28 units arriving in Australia?

Or perhaps it’s the $796,777, before on-road costs, price tag?

How about the stonking 4.0-litre twin-turbo petrol V8, directing 567kW and 800Nm to just the rear wheels?

Truthfully, it’s probably a combination of everything, and if the AMG GT Black Series didn’t terrify you just a little, you are either overestimating your abilities as a driver, or don’t have a healthy respect for what the newest Mercedes is capable of.

So, let’s take a brave pill and pull out of pitlane to see how the Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series goes.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   6/10

Wearing a price tag of $796,777, before on-road costs, the Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series costs more than double the $373,276 GT R coupe, and an eye-watering $343,577 more than last year’s limited-release GT R Pro.

The GT is only the sixth model in Mercedes’ long history to wear the Black Series badge. (Image: Tung Nguyen) The GT is only the sixth model in Mercedes’ long history to wear the Black Series badge. (Image: Tung Nguyen)

It’s a significant amount of cash for sure (still not enough to buy a decent house in Melbourne’s inner city, though), but, as well as increased performance, you are paying for exclusivity.

The GT is only the sixth model in Mercedes’ long history to wear the Black Series badge, and production of the new model will be limited, though to what extent is currently unclear.

Only 28 units will make it Down Under though, and each is already spoken for.

Weirdly, this makes last year’s GT R Pro rarer with only 15 examples in Australia, while the SLS Black Series was also more exclusive with only seven available locally.

The equipment list on the Black Series includes a 12.3-inch customisable digital instrument cluster and various driving modes. (Image: Tung Nguyen) The equipment list on the Black Series includes a 12.3-inch customisable digital instrument cluster and various driving modes. (Image: Tung Nguyen)

So, what exactly do you get for your extra spend?

Remarkably, the equipment list on the Black Series largely mirrors its GT siblings, including a flat-bottom steering wheel, staggered 19-/20-inch wheels, push-button start, 12.3-inch customisable digital instrument cluster, dual-zone climate control and various driving modes.

Handling multimedia duties is a 10.3-inch multimedia screen with satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity, digital radio and an 11-speaker sound system.

However, the Black Series adds a few more touches to the cabin to make things feel more special, such as a microfibre-clad steering wheel, fixed-back carbon-fibre seats, orange-stitch detailing, a roll cage and a four-point racing harness.

Handling multimedia duties is a 10.3-inch multimedia screen. (Image: Tung Nguyen) Handling multimedia duties is a 10.3-inch multimedia screen. (Image: Tung Nguyen)

Though that doesn’t sound like it's enough to justify the huge step up from the GT R, as is the case with most special-edition models, the engine and mechanicals have been given a thorough workover to extract maximum performance from the platform (more on this below).

Is there anything interesting about its design?   10/10

Most high-performance brands have their hardcore, track-focused models, from the Porsche 911 GT2 RS to the McLaren 765LT and the Ferrari 488 Pista.

For Mercedes-Benz, it’s the Black Series, a badge which could be found in the past on the SLK, CLK, SL-Class, C-Class, but for 2021 it’s now found on the back of the GT supercar.

To differentiate it from the rest of the ‘standard’ Mercedes-AMG GT range, a slew of racecar-like components are added, such as a fixed rear wing (with deployable insert), vented front fenders, extended front splitter and fixed-back seats.

In fact, so different is the Black Series, that the only panel that carries over from the GT is the roof, which is a carbon-fibre component to keep weight down.

To differentiate it from the rest of the ‘standard’ Mercedes-AMG GT range, a slew of racecar-like components are added, such as a fixed rear wing. (Image Tung Nguyen) To differentiate it from the rest of the ‘standard’ Mercedes-AMG GT range, a slew of racecar-like components are added, such as a fixed rear wing. (Image Tung Nguyen)

Other carbon-fibre bits include the front fenders, front and rear bumpers, and rear hatch.

The most in-your-face addition might be the deeply vented bonnet, designed to evacuate hot air from the engine bay, while the hero 'Magma Beam' orange colour that juxtaposes all the exposed carbon-fibre panels is a real attention grabber.

From the outside, the Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series is bold, brash and in-your-face, but that’s exactly what a race car should be – in my opinion, at least.

The hero 'Magma Beam' orange colour that juxtaposes all the exposed carbon-fibre panels is a real attention grabber. (Image: Tung Nguyen) The hero 'Magma Beam' orange colour that juxtaposes all the exposed carbon-fibre panels is a real attention grabber. (Image: Tung Nguyen)

I absolutely love how the Black Series looks like a Need for Speed or Forza Horizon video game car brought to life, and will turn heads anywhere you go.

Inside, the Black Series is clad in soft-touch 'Dinamica' and orange contrast stitching across many of the touchpoints such as dashboard, steering wheel and door cards.

And with fixed-back bucket seats, a racing harness and a roll cage, you’d be forgiven for thinking the AMG GT Black Series is all about function over form, but there are small touches to make it easier to live with on the road.

The multimedia touchpad controller falls easily in hand, while the shifter is flanked by an array of light-up buttons to adjust settings like adaptive suspension, exhaust note and rear spoiler angle.

The Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series is bold, brash and in-your-face. (Image: Tung Nguyen) The Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series is bold, brash and in-your-face. (Image: Tung Nguyen)Overall, the Black Series’ cabin is well-laid out like a standard AMG GT, with some nice flourishes to stand it apart.

How practical is the space inside?   7/10

As a two-seat coupe, the AMG GT Black Series isn’t the most practical of cars, but then again, it isn’t trying to be.

The cabin is big enough to accommodate six-foot tall (183cm) passengers like myself, though the fixed-back seats are designed to be form-fitting even for slender frames.

As a two-seat coupe, the AMG GT Black Series isn’t the most practical of cars. (Image: Tung Nguyen) As a two-seat coupe, the AMG GT Black Series isn’t the most practical of cars. (Image: Tung Nguyen)

Storage options inside include two cupholders and a shallow underarm storage cubby, and that’s about it.

Unlike the standard GT, the Black Series’ doors forgo the small storage pocket – likely to keep weight down.

Opening the boot reveals enough space for a set of golf clubs or a few weekend bags, but not much else.

Mercedes does not list the volume available in the Black Series, but with the inclusion of a rollcage and special reinforcement components to help transfer the downforce of the rear wing to the chassis, it’s safe to assume it is less than the 176 litres offered in the AMG GT.

Opening the boot reveals enough space for a set of golf clubs or a few weekend bags, but not much else. (Image: Tung Nguyen) Opening the boot reveals enough space for a set of golf clubs or a few weekend bags, but not much else. (Image: Tung Nguyen)

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   10/10

Powering the GT Black Series is AMG’s ubiquitous 4.0-litre twin-turbo-petrol V8 engine, with a few modifications.

For starters, a flat-plane crank is used for the V8 for improved throttle response, less weight and different firing order that makes it more free revving than the standard engine.

In fact, so different is the engine that Mercedes-AMG has given the Black Series’ powerplant its own internal code, with only three technicians in Affalterbach qualified to put it together.

Powering the GT Black Series is AMG’s ubiquitous 4.0-litre twin-turbo-petrol V8 engine. (Image: Tung Nguyen) Powering the GT Black Series is AMG’s ubiquitous 4.0-litre twin-turbo-petrol V8 engine. (Image: Tung Nguyen)

The result is peak power of 537kW available from 6700-6900rpm, while maximum torque reaches 800Nm, on tap from 2000-6000rpm.

For those keeping track, that’s 107kW/100Nm more than the GT R.

Sending drive exclusively to the rear wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, the AMG GT Black Series will accelerate from 0-100km/h in just 3.2 seconds and top out at 325km/h.

How much fuel does it consume?   8/10

Officially, the GT Black Series will consume 13.2 litres per 100km, making it thirstier than the GT R that returns 11.4L/100km.

The GT Black Series will require 98RON petrol and this, coupled with the high consumption average, will mean a big bill at the bowser.

However, as such a focused performance machine, fuel economy in the Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series is less of an important point than something like a charismatic and dynamic engine.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   7/10

The 2022 Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series is yet to be assessed by ANCAP or Euro NCAP, and does not wear an official crash-test rating.

Though the AMG GT Black Series lacks the usual assortment of safety features, it does offer up more track-orientated safety components. Image: Tung Nguyen) Though the AMG GT Black Series lacks the usual assortment of safety features, it does offer up more track-orientated safety components. Image: Tung Nguyen)

Standard safety features do include automatic wipers, automatic high-beam headlights, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, driver attention alert, traffic sign recognition and tyre pressure monitoring.

Though the AMG GT Black Series lacks the usual assortment of safety features that you might find on a more mainstream car, like autonomous emergency braking (AEB), it does offer up more track-orientated safety components.

For starters, the seats feature a four-point harness, securing you snuggly into the fixed-back seats. This means you won’t move an inch, even when cornering at ridiculous speeds.

There is also a roll cage to keep the cabin secure in the event of a serious crash. And five airbags are fitted.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

5 years / unlimited km warranty

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   9/10

Like all new Mercedes models sold in 2021, the Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series comes with a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty with roadside assist over that period.

Mercedes’ warranty easily outclasses other premium marques like BMW, Porsche and Audi, who each offer a three-year/unlimited kilometre coverage, and Lexus (four year/100,000km), while matching Jaguar and newcomer Genesis.

Scheduled servicing intervals are every 12 months or 20,000km, whichever occurs first.

Servicing costs for the Black Series were unavailable to us at the time of publishing, but maintenance of the GT coupe will ring the till up at $4750 over three years.

What's it like to drive?   10/10

We’ve driven some very fast cars before, so make no mistake when we say the AMG GT Black Series is seriously quick.

The right pedal might as well be warp drive on the, Starship Enterprise, because as soon as you floor the throttle, you’re pinned to the back of the race seat and the only reprise comes from lifting off.

With 537kW/800Nm on tap, you have to trust the suspension and aerodynamics will do their thing to keep the AMG GT Black Series on the track. With 537kW/800Nm on tap, you have to trust the suspension and aerodynamics will do their thing to keep the AMG GT Black Series on the track.

Aside from the immense speed, what is – surprisingly – noticeable is the noise, or lack of it.

The flat-plane crank V8’s different firing order means it doesn’t have the same burbly notes as the standard AMG GT, it’s a racier tone. That’s not a bad thing, mind you, just a different note.

And while the flat-plane crank V8 changes the exhaust note, it also makes the engine freer revving and lively.

With 537kW/800Nm on tap, you sort of have to trust the suspension and aerodynamics will do their thing to keep the AMG GT Black Series on the track, and it’s here where I think Mercedes-AMG has pulled off some sort of magic.

The GT Black Series is so communicative that it gives drivers the confidence to feel like a hero around a race track. (Image: Tung Nguyen) The GT Black Series is so communicative that it gives drivers the confidence to feel like a hero around a race track. (Image: Tung Nguyen)

The combination of adaptive dampers, active aero, beefed-up anti-roll bars and a unique Michelin Pilotsport Cup 2 R tyre (featuring a silhouette of the Black Series laser etched into the sidewall) results in a terrifyingly capable vehicle at Phillip Island.

I am the first to admit that I am no Lewis Hamilton behind the wheel, I often get on the throttle too early, I can never nail a double-apex corner and my heel-toe-technique could use more work, but behind the wheel of the GT Black Series, I felt like Ayrton Senna’s spirit had taken the wheel on my behalf.

Cornering in the Black Series felt like nothing else, and regardless of what the speedo was saying, the nose of the ferocious GT flagship would just point wherever I wanted it to go.

Luckily the braking system is also up to task – thanks to carbon ceramic units fitted as standard, as well as unique pads and discs.

The brakes bite almost immediately, giving you the confidence to hit the stop pedal at the last moment before tipping into a corner.

I think the biggest compliment I can pay to the Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series is that it increases that narrow band of fun you can have in a supercar.

Sure, a driver with more skill could pilot the AMG GT Black Series with more grace, and finesse it around the corners a little quicker, but the approachability of the performance on offer is amazing.

The Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series increases that narrow band of fun you can have in a supercar. The Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series increases that narrow band of fun you can have in a supercar.

Nothing feels intimidating, nothing feels unapproachable. The GT Black Series is so communicative that it gives drivers the confidence to feel like a hero around a race track.

If there is any criticism of the car, it’s that its limits are so high they are hard to explore, even on a circuit like Phillip Island, but maybe that takes more skill than I have, or more than just a handful of laps behind the wheel.

Of particular note, too, is that the engine of the Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series is found in the front.

There’s a reason why some exotic supercars will opt for the mid- or rear-engine layout, but Mercedes has managed to craft a front-engine, rear-drive machine that will keep up with the best the world has to offer.

Verdict

The Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series is a rare beast; in the sense that it’s both unattainable and that it makes you feel like a superhero behind the wheel.

There is more performance on offer than most can hope of using, but the best thing about Mercedes’ latest supercar is its approachability.

In my experience, the more expensive a car gets, the more stressful driving them becomes, but the Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series does something I didn’t think was possible, and turns a near-$1 million supercar into something fun.

EXPERT RATING
8.4
Price and features6
Design10
Practicality7
Engine & trans10
Fuel consumption8
Safety7
Ownership9
Driving10
Tung Nguyen
News Editor

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