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Benz reveals Black Edition SLS gullwing

Ballistic Benz: The Black Edition out-sprints all SLS derivations with a zero to 100km/h time of 3.6 seconds.

AMG lifts the veil on hardcore SLS AMG Black Edition ahead of 2013 Australian launch


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10 Nov 2012

MERCEDES has lifted the veil of secrecy from its SLS AMG Black Series, a comparatively lightweight road-racer based on the flagship SLS gullwing super-coupe.

Said to have been inspired by the GT3 Series racing version, the Black Series is the most hardcore SLS road car to date – and a small number are coming to Australia late next year.

It is AMG’s fifth and most potent Black Series model so far, following the SLK55 Black Series from 2006, the CLK63 from 2007, the SL65 from 2008 and the C63 from 2011.

The hand-built 6.3-litre non-turbo V8 engine tucked behind the front axle produces 464kW (up 44kW) at a screaming 7400rpm, delivers the same 635Nm of torque at 5500rpm as the standard car and is matched to a faster-shifting and lower-mounted version of the existing seven-speed DCT sequential automatic transmission.

Still, it is not enough to take the crown as most powerful SLS – that title belongs to the 552kW/1000Nm pure electric version revealed at the Paris motor show in September.

However the Black Edition is the lightest SLS, due to the use of more lightweight materials like carbon-fibre. Overall, it weighs 70kg less than the regular SLS at 1550kg (compared with 1620kg for the regular model).

The result is a zero to 100km/h sprint time of just 3.6 seconds – two-tenths faster than the regular model and three-tenths quicker than the much heavier EV – with an autobahn-scorching top speed of 315km/h.

These figures also make the Black Series more exclusive, faster and powerful than the SLS AMG GT special edition – itself a hardened version of the ‘regular’ model – revealed in June this year.

The Black Series will launch overseas from June next year, and the good news for well-heeled local AMG fans is that, unlike the GT, the Black Series is locked in for Australian release around the third quarter of 2013.

As we reported in June, Mercedes’ local arm ruled out the GT in order to wait for a mysterious, even more potent version of the SLS. The Black Series is that car, with a tiny allocation believed to be fewer than 10 vehicles to be shared between Australia and New Zealand.

We will have to wait until closer to launch to know local Black Series pricing, but it will naturally be well north of the $468,320 starting price for the regular AMG SLS.

The most recent Black Edition to come to Australia – the C63 coupe – had a $90,000 premium over the regular model.

AMG claims to have achieved the requisite power boost from the existing V8 engine by increasing the maximum engine speed from 7200rpm to 8000rpm, as well as revising key components like the camshafts and air intake.

The engine also picks up gas-filled strut braces to eliminate load-change reactions on the track, and a newly designed lightweight titanium AMG sports exhaust said to amplify the car’s already sonorous note.

The substantial weight savings come largely thanks to heavier use of carbon-fibre on components such as the bonnet, seats, diagonal underbody braces, engine-transmission ‘torque tube’ and driveshaft.

Furthermore, a number of parts on the regular model’s aluminium spaceframe have been replaced with carbon-fibre reinforced plastic components, while a lithium-ion battery is used in place of the traditional starter battery, saving an extra 8kg.

The Speedshift seven-ratio paddle-shifter dual-clutch transmission is based on the regular SLS unit, but is mounted 10mm lower and braced against the body by gas struts to reduce stress.

As well as featuring sportier Sport Plus and Manual modes with quicker shift times, the transmission also double de-clutches during down-shifts and produces more pronounced throttle blips via the new exhaust system.

Integrated within the transmission housing is an AMG electronic differential lock in place of the regular version’s mechanical version. The system is said to improve traction because it is more sensitive to loss of traction at a given wheel.

Underneath is a revised chassis and suspension tune. Benz claims that while the basic all-round double wishbone aluminium layout remains, “barely a component has gone untouched in the interests of much enhanced race track performance”.

Changes include firmer, two-stage adjustable dampers, wider front and rear track (20mm/24mm), new front-axle wheel carriers and front stabiliser bar tuning, lightweight alloy wheels shod to Michelin Pilot SportCup 2 sports tyres and a quicker power steering ratio.

Behind the new wheels and tyres sit 402mm front/360mm ceramic brakes that enhance thermal stability but cut weight by 40 per cent compared to regular steel and aluminium units.

GT3 racing styling cues include carbon-fibre front splitter, side sills and rear apron, enlarged air intakes, a bonnet air intake and a large rear wing. An adjustable carbon-fibre rear aerofoil is also available, but only as an optional extra.

The cabin is available in either black and black/red colour tones, with a flat-bottomed steering wheel, lashings of Alcantara trim and leather, and carbon-fibre bucket seats. The normal model’s COMAND multimedia system has been removed to save 6kg.

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