26 November 2020
26 November 2020
With its race-car attitude and vivid orange paint, this isn't the kind of vehicle that needs a spotlight to stand out. Still, it's an autumn day in north-east Germany, and a few rays of slanting sunshine ensure the Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series is the centre of attention.
For its official media introduction, Mercedes-AMG chose EuroSpeedway Lausitz, a well-known racetrack roughly midway between Berlin and Dresden. The test cars parked in a neat row in the circuit's pit lane must, for now, wait.
In the adjacent pit garages Mercedes-AMG has set up a presentation area and some static exhibits that highlight the GT Black Series' key technical features.
The arrival of a new Black Series is a rare event. There have been only six in the past 15 years. But these ultimate Mercedes-AMG models have made an outsized contribution to the brand's reputation and desirability.
While the philosophy with Black Series models has always been to bring racetrack tech to road-legal cars, it's soon clear that the new GT Black Series is a more extreme machine than any of its predecessors. Extensive changes make this vehicle the most racer-like Black Series ever.
Though the capacity of the GT Black Series' V8 is the same as other Mercedes-AMG GT models, power is increased to a whopping 537kW. The heart of this version of the twin-turbo 4.0-litre beats to a different rhythm. Its 'flat-plane' crankshaft means the eight cylinders fire in a new order. This changes the way the engine sounds, but boosts power. Which is why this configuration is often favoured for racing engines.
Some metal chassis and suspension parts have been replaced with lighter, stronger carbon-fibre components. This costly material is also employed to cut the weight of the GT Black Series bodywork. Both its bonnet and rear hatch are made from the stuff.
More than anything, it's the aerodynamic alterations that make the GT Black Series appear so purposeful. The vehicle's double-wing rear spoiler and big front splitter, both of them adjustable, are only the most obvious of them. From nose to tail, the Black Series has piercings and projections.
Dr Gustavo Estrada can explain everything. At length. The chief aerodynamicist's all-stops tour around the GT Black Series is fascinating. Every single feature has its purpose; drag reduction, downforce generation, or engine cooling. The man seems able to visualise every curl and swirl of air passing under, over, around and through the vehicle.
The sound from the four exhausts is a little raspy – that’s the new crankshaft – but there's nothing rough-edged about the way the GT Black Series drives. The steering is precise, the brakes brilliant and the handling, especially at the sort of high speeds where aerodynamics are really important, is a genius combination of stability and agility.
Although not due to land on New Zealand shores until sometime in the second quarter of 2021, the GT Black Series – which will retail around $800,000 – is already sold out locally.
By John Carey