Pros: Race car performance for the street; engine and chassis improvements deliver more rewarding driver dynamics; rarity guarantees instant cult status
Cons: Boy racer styling doesn't do justice to its athletic abilities; horsepower figure is trumped by SLS AMG Electric Drive model; estimated $250,000 price tag puts it out of reach for most enthusiasts
What's New: The limited-production 2014 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series takes the standard issue SLS and ditches 154 pounds of mass, boosts horsepower and torque and delivers transmission, chassis, suspension and aerodynamic improvements intended to endow the famous gullwinged supercar with more bite.
For most, the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG is a special car with a strong sense of occasion: Its doors sweep upward like wings, revealing a purposeful yet luxurious interior, and its mid-front mounted 8-cylinder engine crackles with a spine-tingling exhaust note. But for those seeking an even more exotic ride, Mercedes offers the 2014 SLS AMG Black Series, whose moniker was derived from the ultra-exclusive American Express Centurion (Black) card.
This particular SLS is the fifth so-called Black Series car to roll out of AMG's headquarters in Affalterbach, Germany, and it certainly looks the part of the mean-spirited track menace. From its carbon fiber "flics" mounted on the front skirt to a massive rear wing with 90-degree Gurney flaps for added downforce, the SLS Black Series boasts aerodynamic features intended to glue it firmly to the ground. Also aiding those efforts are the SLS's updated suspension, which has seen alterations to virtually every component of its double wishbone setup.
The naturally aspirated, 6.2-liter V8 powerplant gains 39 hp for a total of 622 hp, while torque dips to 468 lb-ft. At least the drop is outpaced by 154 pounds of overall weight loss, which lends this 2-seater the highest power-to-weight ratio of any AMG vehicle.
Copious chassis and drivetrain tweaks make the SLS AMG Black Series a potent performer. Thanks to the quicker shifting dual-clutch 7-speed transmission, a new electronic rear differential and a rev ceiling that has been pushed from 7,200 rpm to 8,000 rpm, the driver feels noticeable performance gains compared to the standard SLS. These gains include gruntier, more immediate responsiveness, nimbler handling and crisper dynamics with greater control over how that power is laid to the ground.
AMG hasn't pinned a number on how many 2014 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series cars will be built, but if past Black Series vehicles are any indication, there will be far more buyers interested in this expensive track toy than Mercedes-Benz will build.