Making its world debut in Los Angeles, the awesome 2014 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series is the fifth and latest member of the M-B family to receive this ultra-upgrade treatment. Borrowing heavily from the SLS AMG GT3 racer, the street-legal Black Series variant matches its distinctive appearance with scintillating performance that results from focused programs that both increase engine output and reduce weight.
A comprehensive revamp of the SLS's standard 6.2-liter V8 raises output to 622 horsepower - 39 more than the engine in the U.S.-spec SLS AMG GT model - and bumps redline up from 7,200 to 8,000 rpm. The extra might, which comes largely from adopting numerous upgraded internal components from the GT3 engine as well as new intake/exhaust plumbing and computer controls, allows the 2014 SLS AMG Black Series to streak from 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds on its way to a top speed of 196 mph. The engine is backed by a 7-speed AMG Speedshift DCT dual-clutch automatic transmission and sends power to the rear wheels via a new AMG differential that features a revised final drive ratio as well as electronic, rather than mechanical, variable locking that enhances responsiveness to improve handling and safety.
Underpinning the new SLS AMG Black Series is an AMG Adaptive Performance Suspension that's more tautly tuned than the GT's chassis. The adjustable coil-over setup is complemented by a lower ride height, wider front/rear track dimensions, revamped programming on the speed-sensitive AMG steering, high-performance carbon-ceramic brakes and staggered-size (19-inch front/20-inch rear) AMG lightweight alloy wheels mounting high-grip Michelin Pilot Sporty Cup 2 tires.
In addition to a bold exterior treatment that also shares many aggressive visual cues with the SLS AMG GT3 model, the Black Series reaps huge benefits from a broad-based implementation of the "AMG Lightweight Performance" strategy that has helped trim curb weight to just 3,417 pounds. Keys to this 154-pound mass reduction from the standard SLS AMG include the prominent use of carbon fiber and carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) in various body and interior panels as well as even more lightweight mechanical components. Highlights of that list include changing the car's more free-flowing exhaust system from steel to titanium and replacing the conventional lead-acid battery with a new lithium-ion unit.
While born to perform, the new SLS AMG Black Series also was designed to pamper. Designo black leather and Alcantara trim dominate the passenger cabin, which also features supportive AMG sport buckets, a flat-bottom AMG performance steering wheel, AMG Drive Unit and M-B's COMAND telematics package that can be deleted to help cut weight even more. Audiophiles, on the other hand, can opt to replace the standard sound system with a 1000-watt/11-speaker Bang & Olufsen BeoSound AMG alternative.
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series will arrive in the U.S. starting next summer. Pricing for this limited-edition package will be released closer to its on-sale date.