First Drive: 2014 Mercedes SLS AMG Black Series

 

So the 2014 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series is even more awesome than the SLS AMG. Whoda thunk?

Mercedes Benz, CLA und AMG_SLS_ED_Le_und Black Series SLS AMG in

The 622-horsepower 2014 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Coupe Black Series costs $55,000 more than the standard $195,000 583-hp SLS AMG Coupe GT. That’s highway robbery, that is! Forget it! Cancel my goddamned order, you robber barons of Sindelfingen and Affalterbach!! I can buy TWELVE loaded barely used Subaru WRX STIs for that amount, so screw you. And what I choose to do with twelve freakin’ barely used Subaru WRX STIs is my business, JACK!

Had to do that. Feelin’ better now. Commenters in the blog-o-sphere who write words similar to the ones above in response to what they see as a stupid rich person’s folly make me want to pursue them to a Louisiana cul-de-sac, bind and gag them in the bed of their pick-up, douse them in the entire case of Costco Mountain Dew they just bought, and set them aflame. And YES, Mountain Dew is highly flammable. Try it at home.

You could just sort of stare at the SLS AMG in all its BS-ness and leave it at that. It is a showboat for AMG stalkers. The best part is that it does what it promises to do even better than you expect. This drive opp was none too shabby, folks. I was hoisted southward from my cave in the Alps to the perfect track at Le Castellet owned and operated by the safe deposit box of the Ecclestone family. It is indeed a perfect and safe track where you are inherently pushed to go faster than you thought you or the car could go.

So, what alters from the standard econobox SLS GT in order to arrive at the nosebleed wallet of the blackened series? The Black’s gem of an engine is derived from the SLS AMG GT’s naturally aspirated and aurally gifted 6.2-liter V-8. An additional 39 horsepower and a shift in the power peak by 600 revs translate to a meaty 622 horsepower at 7400 rpm. (The base car hits redline at 7200 rpm, but that mark has been bumped to 8000 rpm here.) Extracted with shorter intake runners, revised valve timing, and optimized ignition timing that increases peak cylinder pressure, the extra power requires wider main bearings, stronger connecting-rod bolts, forged hardware, and a higher-pressure oiling system. The trade-off is a slight loss of low-end torque; max twist is now 468 lb-ft at 5500 rpm rather than 479 lb-ft at 4750 rpm. You won’t miss it, though, because AMG shortened the final-drive ratio from 3.67:1 to 4.44:1.

And, so, now you’ve been TECH’D, muthahsuckah!

13c231__063 sls_blackseries_04

Mercedes Benz, CLA und AMG_SLS_ED_Le_und Black Series SLS AMG in Mercedes Benz, CLA und AMG_SLS_ED_Le_und Black Series SLS AMG in

Good to get those lab-coat paragraphs done and out of the way. Highly relevant and of great import, but hardly why you might crave reading a drive review. Essentially we all want to know whether I came a hair’s breadth from either soiling my jeans or smashing one of the very expensive flanks of the SLS AMG BS into the outer wall of some surprise turn on the track taken with too much heat. Because this has happened to me out here before while chasing various career racing drivers – the former and thankfully not the latter.

Pleased to report that the 622-hp BS is the finest damned BS I’ve ever had haul me around a warm track. This fat-barreled V8 revving this high – and so willingly with that race-inspired transaxle ratio – is quite the rocket ship. There are a few sweeping, full throttle, off-camber curves at Paul Ricard, and the Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires – 265/35 ZR19 98Y front, 295/30 ZR20 101Y rear – continually told me that I could go farther and farther as they became warmer and warmer. There was that fabulous feeling of the car pushing itself laterally intermittently through curves to acquire more hook-up at will. Really all that was missing was a roll cage and racing gloves. I had the balaklava and helmet. Even wore my natty narrow racing shoes, girl.

Forgot to mention it, the one and only DTM maven Bernd Schneider was in the demo car ahead of me giving hotter laps to the foreign press pool wimps and I was able – thanks to this amazingly balanced competition car from AMG – to keep on him. We were not allowed to switch off the traction control completely, but the Sport calibration for ESP was permitted. It allowed me some very useful oversteer through a few tighter sections which Schneider knew way better than I in this car. Seeing him pooch out the tail on steady or hard throttle and then mimicking it in my test car was such illegal-feeling fun. This aluminum chassis and composite tub and body are mated so well and are so steady through all of this rougher treatment, they go a long way in helping me forget the god-awful overstyled Mercedes SLR McLaren dump truck I hated driving so much on tracks.

We are 154 pounds less weighty here, too, which invariably helps things while dicing around the circuit on this stiffer suspension setup. Perhaps best of all, this BS halo racer has the only version of the whole damned 7G transmission family that actually acts the way it bloody should do. I hate the 7G clan of transmissions, whether they be multi-plate clutch or dual-clutch style, because they do not allow me to experience exactly what my mind’s eye envisions, nor what the company promises. Not even in the other BSes does the tranny just let me go and do as this version of the AMG Speedshift does. Finally. This is most likely due simply to the mountains of oomph ready at the pedal and to that rear ratio shucking me forward so sweetly, but nonetheless it is so much better being able to up- and downshift at will; to quote Kimi, “Leave me alone, I know what to do!”

Yes, the 2014 Mercedes SLS AMG Coupe Black Series is both overnamed and over designed, but it is a far better driver than its poorer sibling the GT, and worth the $55,000 extra. The lack of fuel efficiency and short lives of expensive tires come standard, too. And then there’s the much lighter and beautifully louder titanium exhaust pipage to sing you back to life, plus massive composite brake discs to reel in your ill-advised momentum all day long. And, only 200 SLS AMG BSes are to appear Stateside each year.

Don’t cancel your order, Liberace. WRX STIs seat too many people anyway.

2014 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series

Engine: 6.2L V8

Power: 622 HP / 468 LB-FT

Transmission: 7-Speed automated AMG Speedshift w/paddles

0-60 Time: 3.4 Seconds (Est.)

V-max: 196 MPH

Drivetrain: Rear-Wheel Drive

Curb Weight: 3,417 LBS

Seating: 2

MPG: 12 CITY / 18 HWY (Est.)

MSRP: $250,000 (Est.)

[ “Snap” – text, pics; Andreas Lindlahr – photo help]

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