An all-new super-performance version of the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT joins the ranks this year, and it's called the Black Series. SLS AMG GT coupe and roadster models carry forward into the 2014 model year unchanged.
The arrival of the Black Series shouldn't indicate that the $200, 000-plus SLS AMG GT is anything less than a supercar, however. With a dose of power and interior upgrades last year, the SLS AMG GT is every bit the design-forward, V-8-barking, gullwinged (in coupe form, at least) devil-in-a-suit it should be.
Drawing its heritage back to the famous racing SLs of the 1950s, the SLS AMG GT side-steps the retro-trend entirely, instead interpreting the long-nosed, cab-rearward proportions through a 21st-century lens-it looks sharp, sleek, and fast, even at a standstill. Inside, clean shapes and quality materials convey both luxury and sport, purpose and poise.
A refined yet ferocious 6.2-liter V-8 provides the power for the SLS AMG GT in both coupe and roadster forms, delivering 583 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque. Despite the long nose, the front-mid engine position and rear-mounted seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox help push the weight distribution to 47-percent over the front axle and 53-percent over the rear. All of that power translates through the rear wheels to 3.7-second 0-60-mph runs and a top speed of 197 mph (electronically limited).
In the new SLS AMG Black Series, power rises to 622 horsepower, while an aggressive cam pushes torque down slightly to 468 pound-feet. Acceleration is even quicker, reaching 60 mph in just 3.5 seconds, but owing to much more significant aerodynamic downforce, top speed is reduced to 196 mph. The power in the Black Series still comes from a 6.2-liter V-8, but it has been heavily modified to sustain that extra power, as well as a redline of 8, 000 rpm.
In any version of the SLS AMG, be it the GT Coupe, Roadster, or Black Series, the cabin is much the same: there's room for two, but only just. If you're on the tall side of six feet, you'll find head room is limited at best, though leg room is generally good, and the seats are highly adjustable to suit most body types. In Coupe models, the gullwing doors will require shorter passengers to remember to grab the door handle on their way in-it requires a six-footer's arm span to reach the handles once already seated.
In the SLS AMG GT Roadster, the doors are more familiar, abut there's still limited storage space in the cabin and trunk, so even weekend trips will require appropriate planning.
Technology and features are, as you'd expect, quite extensive. Most of the car's features are controlled through the COMAND interface in the central display, itself ruled by a rotating knob flanked by buttons in the center console. It's not the most elegant display, but it's easy to learn and control on the move.
The SLS AMG GT, like most of its $200, 000-plus brethren, hasn't been crash tested by either the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), but it is constructed with the same structural integrity engineering and safety equipment as other Mercedes-Benz models, and should be a fairly safe place in a crash.
EPA ratings for the SLS AMG GT reflect the car's performance and the unlikelihood of its use as a daily-driving long-distance commuter: the Coupe and Roadster models score 13 mpg city, 19 mpg highway, and 15 mpg combined. The even more potent SLS AMG Black Series rates 13/17/14 mpg.