There’s probably never a bad time to have a quarter of a million pounds to blow on a fast car. If I’d had it in 2013 and spent it on a Mercedes SLS AMG Black Series I’d have been a very happy man. Right now I’d be even happier, given they now seem to be making nearly double that.
AUG 08th 2017
Dan Trent: Is the Mercedes SLS Black Series worth £500,000?
Can an SLS in a bodykit really worth that much money? Ask me today, fresh out of driving one around Silverstone on a track day celebrating AMG’s 50th anniversary and I’m willing to make the case. Because this is one special car.
Special enough though? After all, if you move quickly you could just about get into a Porsche Carrera GT for that. Or if you fancy something fast, Mercedes-shaped but rather more exotic how about a McLaren SLR for half as much? Flawed or not it’s still a spectacular machine and maturing rather nicely.
In the company of proper exotica like that the Black Series risks looking like some sort of aftermarket monstrosity built for the more money than taste contingent. Rumble around the West End in one and you’d likely be mistaken for one of their number. After driving it round Silverstone I’d recommend pointing your Black Series in the direction of a track instead. Because here those looks – and what’s beneath – make sense.
Black Series AMGs are limited run specials based on existing models. Exclusive in the extreme, they’ve ranged from the relatively understated CLK63 Black Series to wild, wide-arched street racers like the ludicrous 670ps/661bhp SL65 version. In this context, one of those is a relative bargain at £190K too! But while typically stripped back and track influenced they’ve not always lived up to the promise when driven in anger. The SLS Black Series is the real deal though.
At its heart is probably one of the best V8 engines ever made. By anyone. Ever. And AMG has made some brilliant ones. A last hurrah for its epic naturally-aspirated 6.2-litre motor, in the Black Series it got a host of revisions, raising the rev limit to 8,000rpm and unleashing 631ps/622bhp without a turbo in sight. By my reckoning it’s the most powerful naturally-aspirated V8 AMG has ever made and a worthy valedictory salute for this wonderful engine.
The Black Series was built to make the most of it too, with wider track front and back, carbon panels influenced by the customer GT3 race version, Cup tyres, significantly stiffer suspension, shorter gearing and a host of detail tweaks to make it handle properly. I was blown away by the way it went on track. It’s a big car and has suitably butch manners. But with room to stretch its legs around Silverstone the epic reach of that motor, the percussive hammer of V8 noise, the balance and sense it has more to give the faster you go is just addictive. Where most street cars would be wilting on track you sense the Black Series is just getting into its stride.
Then there’s the record of the race car it resembles. In 2013 – the year the Black Series was unveiled – it was especially successful, the GT3 version including wins at the 12 Hours of Bathurst, Nurburgring 24-Hour, 24 Hours of Spa and Nurburgring 1000km among many race and title wins around the world. Seemingly you can now actually buy a GT3 race car and spares package to run it for less than a road going Black Series too!
So by any measure, the SLS is an outrageous machine. That it’s now selling for outrageous amounts of money seems only appropriate. All well and good. But as a driving machine, my experience at Silverstone suggests it could be worth every penny.
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