The first-ever Black Series edition of the SLS arrives for 2014. AMG's Black Series cars are ultra-high-performance, ultra-limited-edition, race-inspired versions of their regular models. They usually are available for one model year only. The first one sold in the United States was the CLK Black Series in 2008, followed by the SL65 Black Series in 2009 and the C63 Black Series in 2013. The SLS Black Series, which is offered only as a coupe, sees its weight trimmed to 3616 pounds, the output of its 6.2-liter V-8 increased to 622 hp, and the redline go up to 8000 rpm. As a result, the 0-to-60-mph time drops to 3.5 seconds. Top speed is 196 mph. The Black Series further boasts a unique, adjustable, adaptive performance suspension; high-performance, two-piece ceramic brakes; matte black forged wheels; a titanium exhaust system; an electronically controlled rear differential lock; and a uniquely calibrated seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The price? A cool $276,800 (not including destination)...
The SLS AMG is the first Mercedes-Benz model entirely developed by the company's in-house performance division, AMG. The SLS first went on sale in early 2010 as a hardtop coupe with gullwing doors. Those doors, and the SLS AMG's top-of-the-heap performance, established a link to the iconic 300SL Gullwing Mercedes sports cars of the 1950s. Although the gullwing doors would seem to be an integral part of the SLS AMG's identity, Mercedes nonetheless added a roadster model with conventional doors to the lineup. Last year, the SLS AMG morphed into the SLS AMG GT, which was not a sub-model but an evolution of the standard car. This year, there is a new variant that stands at the very pinnacle of AMG performance: the SLS AMG Black Series coupe.
The SLS AMG has been out for four years now, but Mercedes has done some work to keep its image-making supercar fresh. Last year, the "standard" SLS AMG was replaced by the SLS AMG GT gullwing coupe and convertible. This year, that duo is joined by the new, limited-edition SLS AMG Black Series. The GT extracts 583 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque from its big-block V-8. This normally aspirated engine -- one of the last in AMG's lineup as the division moves toward downsized, turbocharged powerplants -- is a masterpiece of linear power and aural delight. Dry sump lubrication (no oil pan) allows it to sit lower in the chassis, and a rear-mounted transaxle helps to create a slightly rear-biased (47/53 percent) weight distribution, which is ideal for a rear-wheel-drive car. The transaxle is an ultra-quick-shifting seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. It has several modes, rev-matched downshifting, and shift paddles, but its main shift lever is a dainty, T-shaped affair that seems out of place in such a brawny car.
The choice between gullwing coupe and roadster is an interesting one. The coupe's top-hinged doors unquestionably make a statement and are an integral part of what makes the SLS special. That said, you'll likely bump your head on them plenty of times before you it becomes a habit to duck when getting in. The doors are, however, reasonably easy to reach and close once you're inside. The closed coupe's cabin is a very intimate space that is beautifully finished in Mercedes' custom Designo leather and Alcantara synthetic suede and outfitted with body-hugging sport seats. Don't expect to stash anything behind those seats, as the cabin in general is short on storage space.
The roadster lacks the signature doors, but it holds its own appeal. The conventional portals make for easier entry and exit, and the folding top creates a more spacious feel. That folding top is a traditional fabric roof, unlike the retractable hard tops in other Mercedes roadsters. Available in black, red, or beige, the fabric roof weighs less, which is ideal for a sports machine like the SLS. An added benefit is that it does not impede on trunk space, which is 6.1 cubic feet no matter if the top is up or down. We also like the fact that the top zips down so quickly (eleven seconds) and can even be raised or lowered with the car moving slowly.
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