When the SL65 AMG debuted, we said that, in terms of the global horsepower war, Mercedes-Benz was taking off a glove and slapping the rest of the industry in the face. As a follow-up, Mercedes has decided to moon every other automaker with the debut of its SL65 AMG Black Series, and those rosy cheeks are low, wide, and made of carbon fiber. But figuratively speaking, this latest Black Series car is much more serious than our childish analogy suggests. As did the two previous Black Series cars—an SLK55 that wasn’t sold in the U.S. and the CLK63 for 2008—the SL65 version represents the ultimate in performance and exclusivity in a Mercedes-Benz. The cold facts are: 661 horsepower, a $300, 000 price tag, and a limited run of 350 cars, of which 175 are coming to our shores starting in January.
Looks Aren’t Everything
As you might notice from the picture, the SL65 Black Series isn’t just an SL65 with some extra power. The only body parts shared with the regular SL are the doors and the side mirrors. Everything else has been replaced with carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic panels. Different from every other SL, instead of a convertible top, this one is fixed, and the longer slope of the roof line leads down to a trunklid with a pop-up wing. The lightweight body panels combined with the absence of all the motors and gear for the folding hardtop result in a 427-pound weight saving. The gigantic fenders look about three feet wider than the standard SL’s, but the true amount of widening to the track—4.5 inches in front and 4.1 inches at the rear—is still pretty amazing. The suspension has been totally reworked, and the coil-overs can be adjusted up to 0.8 inch. From the factory, the ride height and the shock adjustments are tuned for the Nürburgring. The forged aluminum wheels—19 inches front and 20 inches rear—are shod with Dunlop SP Sport Maxx GT tires.
It’s hard to ignore the front end of this latest Black Series, whether you’re talking about its appearance or what’s under the hood. Of course, the two are related. The giant mesh-covered vents in front house the extra cooling capacity. In addition to the engine radiator, power-steering radiator, and air-conditioning radiator, there are two heat exchangers for the water-to-air-intercooled turbochargers. The AMG engineers managed to squeeze in brake ducts as well; plus, there’s an engine oil cooler mounted parallel to the ground just behind the front splitter. Even minor front end damage in this car is going to get very expensive. As a brief radiator-related aside, there are two small units in back to cool the rear limited-slip differential. Back in front, the extra cooling capacities of the intercoolers combined with slightly larger turbochargers are the main reason for the 57-hp increase over the everyday SL65. The final figure of 661 horsepower makes the Black Series the most powerful roadgoing Mercedes ever produced. Torque is still limited to 738 pound-feet to spare the life of the five-speed automatic transmission.