AMG GT Black Series picks up where SLS left off
AMG has revealed the latest in a legendary line of Black Series models that have arguably positioned the brand as Germany’s brand-to-beat when it comes to muscle car hooliganism. Welcome to the Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series, with its engine bay the home of Affalterbach’s most powerful V8.
THE SIXTH IS HERE
Though it’s been expected for some time, the specifics of the GT Black have remained mostly a mystery. With AMG finally confirming much of the nitty gritty, it seems fair to say the GT Black makes some of its Black-badged brothers seem a little tame. On top of that, it’s the final Black Series car to be created by Tobias Moers’ AMG as he moves on from the CEO role to take the reins at Aston Martin.
“This project was a fantastic end to my work at AMG, for which I am truly thankful,” says the man responsible for turning AMG into the literal powerhouse it is. “I am proud of the team who have created a unique super sports car, which now represents the absolute peak of our successful GT family. The performance, looks and driving dynamics of the GT Black Series are second to none.”
‘Second to none’ might be a big call (the last car to challenge the 911 appeared with it on our June 2020 cover and was beaten in a checkmate), but Moers won’t be around at AMG to cop Porsche’s return fire. Moers isn’t wrong about it being the pinnacle of the AMG GT, though, given how much has been changed and tweaked.
Let’s begin with what is almost always the main attraction any of Affalterbach’s creations, the engine. Based on the existing M178 twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 used widely within the AMG stable, the engine in the GT Black Series has been changed enough (while remaining at the same displacement) that its engineers have given it an extended designation. It’s called the M178… LS2. Uh, moving on.
The front-page news for the new V8 is that the dry-sumped unit now has a flat-plane crank, and makes 537kW between 6700-6900rpm and 800Nm between 2000-6000rpm. Its new crank has also given the engine a new firing order, 1-8-2-7-4-5-3-6, which distributes the combustion between cylinders more evenly. Its engine cover is black, too. Obviously.
Not only does the GT Black look like a racecar, it will sound like one too thanks to that flat plane. In addition, AMG says the engine’s responsiveness is improved over the ‘standard’ GT models, and as a product of the new engine’s performance and configuration, the exhaust manifold has been redesigned.
The M178 LS2 also borrows the turbochargers (with anti-friction bearings) from the AMG GT R, but each turbo has been bestowed a larger compressor to deliver 1100kg of air per hour, 200kg more than in the GT R. Larger intercoolers have also been used in the GT Black to ensure optimum temperatures. The result of this work is a car that’s able to take the fight to more than a few supercars.
To 100km/h from a standstill, the Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series takes just 3.2 seconds, say its creators, while that speed can be doubled in less than nine seconds. Of course, it being exclusively rear-wheel drive, hitting these figures might prove difficult without ideal conditions. Given enough room, however, the GT Black is said to be able to go on to hit 325km/h. This makes it the fastest Black Series yet in terms of top speed, beating the V12-powered SL65 Black’s claimed top speed by 3km/h. But then, even AMG warns “this is only sensible on cordoned-off racetracks”.
And it’s on the racetrack where the GT Black should shine, as AMG has spent a fair chunk of time redeveloping not only the engine, but also the gearbox and chassis of the GT to ensure competitiveness in… say, lap times. The GT R Pro lapped the Nürburgring in 7:04.634, so it’s more than reasonable to expect times below the seven-minute mark for the Black.
The aforementioned gearbox changes, that AMG expects will help in cases like this, are slight, but significant. Limits on shift speeds and performance (likely to prolong the life of the drivetrain in more road-focused cars) have been extended for track driving, while also being reinforced for the higher torque output. It’s connected to the engine via a carbon fibre ‘torque tube’, 40 per cent lighter than that of the GT R, while creating an “extremely flexurally and torsionally stiff connection” to the engine due to its placement as a structural element. While AMG says it has optimised the placement and materials of elements in the drivetrain to create an ideal weight distribution, it has also used carbon fibre across its expansive bonnet, its roof, the diffusers, its front and rear wings… look, there’s a lot of carbon fibre, and it’s making the GT Black lighter. If it’s to be any lighter than the GT R, it’ll be sub-1550kg, but with no confirmation from AMG there’s no knowing yet.
Finally, one of the last aspects of the GT Black that AMG’s labcoats have explored is its aerodynamics, one which is extremely evident when observing the near-comical rear wing set-up. The massive construction features two adjustable aerofoil blades, the upper including a large movable flap in the middle which can be electronically adjusted by 20 degrees, acting as both downforce regulation and as a sort of airbrake. AMG gives an example for a possible set-up for the car’s Master dynamics mode.
“The flap is permanently inclined and extended up to 250km/h. When the speed exceeds 250km/h, it retracts in order to reduce the air resistance and thus reach the top speed more quickly. However, if the driver brakes suddenly or steers into a corner, the flap immediately returns to its extended position.”
The front splitter is also adjustable, with a track mode that’s barely suitable for the road, while airflow through the wheel arches, grille and bonnet aids both cooling and downforce.
Will it come here? Probably, given Australia’s love for AMG. But don’t expect to see it anywhere near AMG GT R prices. The changes to this car mean customers will likely be shelling out more than $600,000.
ABOVE GT R this ain’t. The efforts made to turn the Black into a properly wild thing are evident even to the naked eye.
RIGHT Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 R tyres provide ample grip, with 285/35 ZR19 fronts and 335/30 ZR20 at the rear.
FAR RIGHT The GT Black’s engine bay isn’t exactly tidy, but think of it less as a mess and more as a 537kW arrangement.
RIGHT The GT Black’s badging leaves no room for confusion, this car belongs on track.
ABOVE RIGHT The two-tier wing on the Black is adjustable in multiple ways, depending on drive mode selection.
RIGHT The interior hasn’t changed dramatically, save for the seats, but the orange stitching is Black-exclusive.