Mercedes SL65 AMG Black Series first photos

Published: 11 July 2008

Mercedes isn’t just a car company; it now offers a conveyor belt to satisfy the most farflung consumer mores. Why else launch the SL65 AMG Black Series? It’s not as if the current SL63 and SL65 aren’t powerful or fast enough (604bhp and 4.2sec 0-62mph, anyone?). But today’s latest addition takes the SL into as yet uncharted, extreme sporting territory.

As with the SLK and CLK, the Black Series SL adds more power, more sporting focus, more body addenda – and a steep price hike too. It will cost a cool quarter of a million pounds when UK sales kick off later in the year.

So just how powerful is the SL65 AMG Black Series?

Quick recap. The SL63 uses Merc’s V8 engine, the SL65 the V12. It’s the latter that powers the Black, sharing the same 5980cc capacity but with a raft of new technology to squeeze some extra muscle. It’s handbuilt, the craftsmen of Affalterbach bolting on modified air intakes, an AMG sports exhaust, 30 percent more powerful intercooler and twin turbos whose spiral cross section is now 12 percent bigger.

Only a German car company could make such a claim, but the extra air they ram into the engine helps develop a slightly heady 661bhp and 737lb ft of torque – developed between 2200rpm and 4200rpm. Sounds like this thing is going to have ferocious pull at any speed…

Click ‘Next’ to read more spec details of the SL65 AMG Black Series
So the SL65 AMG Black Series is fast?

You could say that. Unfettered by a limiter, this ultimate SL would top 885lb ft, they say. A slightly empty claim, perhaps, but there’s no arguing with the performance figures of the Black. It will scuttle to 62mph in a scant 3.9sec and sprint all the way to 199mph, an artificially limited top speed.

Performance is boosted by some impressively lightweight componentry. Okay, so its kerb weight of 1870kg might not sound that light for a two-seater sports car, but remember that the ‘basic’ SL65 AMG weighs a rather lardy 2120kg. Even the entry-level, six-cylinder SL350 tips the scales at 1825kg.

So how do they save a quarter of a tonne on the SL65 Black?

Remember that price? Your £250,000 largely pays for a crash diet of epic proportions. Carbonfibre composites are used on the front mudguards, the front spoiler, the bonnet (complete with cooling scoops. Very serious), boot lid and roof.

There’s even a carbonfibre rear spoiler, that pops up 12cm from the bootlid at speeds over 75mph to reduce the lift on the rear axle. Oh, and the now-obligatory rear diffuser is made from the space-age material too. Those rear strakes also pack a cooler for the rear locking diff.

It’s a pretty serious bit of kit, then…

Yes. This is Merc’s current tech showcase, until next year’s standalone supercar comes along. You can read all about the 21st century Gullwing in CAR Online’s exclusive scoop here.

Click ‘Next’ to read more on the SL65 Black SeriesOk, so it has several carbonfibre body bits, but – really – £250,000?!

True, that’s a lot of dosh. But it’s way less than the McMerc SLR, don’t forget. That thing tops a third of a million. The Black Series takes a standard SL and turns it into a thing of unusual beauty. It has an entirely different character to the SL, the one-piece fixed head roof lending a simpler, more elegant profile. It doubtless contributes heavily to that weight loss too. Mercedes did the same on the SLK Black Series, don’t forget.

Those matt-finished AMG forged alloys fill out the arches nicely: 19in items up front, 20in at the business end. They’re driven through a five-speed auto gearbox (the company’s more sophisticated seven-speeder still can’t take the grunt), which has Comfort, Sport and two manual modes (M1 and M2, the latter offering shifts 25 percent quicker).

And how’s it going to drive?

Well, you’ve read the spec so far. It’s going to be ballistically fast. There are numerous chassis tweaks to keep you on the straight and narrow, with motorsport developed adjustable suspension; the rebound, compression, ride height and camber can all be adjusted for circuit use. And the tracks are up front and back by around 90mm each.

Should you be mad/show-offy enough, there’s a three-stage ESP that can be entirely switched off. Having had a mishap in a Mercedes in such a situation, I wouldn’t recommend it.

If the worst comes to the worst, you can rely on composite brakes to wipe off all that speed. Combined with 265/35 R19 (front) and 325/30 R20 Dunlops, we can only expect the Black Series to stop on a sixpence.

And what about inside the SL65 Black?

Fittingly, the fastest SL is trimmed entirely in black, with a mix of Nappa leather, Alcantara and carbonfibre. And thankfully the SL’s steering wheel is 15mm smaller for a more wieldy helm.

And if you’re wondering why the Black looks familiar, that’s because CAR has scooped it mercilessly during its development. Hardly surprising, since the engineers completed 19,000 miles of testing – 9000 of them on the Nurburgring. And that speaks volumes for who this car is aimed at…

Want to see what all the Black Series fuss is about? Then click below for CAR’s first drive reviews of:

Mercedes CLK63 AMG Black Series
Mercedes SLK55 AMG Black Series

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet