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Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series: PH Footnote

Can the next Black Series pick up from where its ferocious SLS forebear left off? Dan P hopes so...

By Dan Prosser / Sunday, May 12, 2019

Mercedes itself hasn’t officially announced the new Black Series yet, but the internet pretty much confirms the toughest AMG GT of the bunch is well on its way. Quite apart from all the Nurburgring spy shots and reams of snatched video footage (some of which you’ll find below), there are also the not-so-subtle hints dropped in interviews by AMG boss Tobias Moers in that excitable, schoolboy-ish way of his. When Moers is really buzzing about a forthcoming car his poker face tends to crack like an egg landing on a tiled floor.

We reckon the new model will be formally announced later this year ahead of a 2020 arrival. When it does eventually hit the road, no fewer than seven years will have passed since the Black Series badge was last rolled out. Mercedes is going to have to set out exactly what that designation stands for all over again, because seven years is a very long time in the performance car game and many of us will have simply forgotten.

And then there are the various other ways in which Mercedes has chosen to describe the go-faster versions of its halo sports car since then. You can buy an AMG GT and an AMG GT S, which is straightforward enough, but you can also have a GT C, a hardcore GT R and a really very hardcore indeed GT R Pro. Where on earth will an AMG GT Black Series fit into all of that?

I won’t try to reconcile AMG’s slightly murky product strategy here, except to say the Black Series will probably be the most powerful AMG GT yet (something like 630hp seems likely, comfortably outgunning the 585hp GT R and GT R Pro), but whether it’ll be a thuggish road car with a sniff of grand tourer about it or an out-and-out track day weapon is anybody’s guess. Finding territory somewhere in the AMG GT line-up for a Black Series without diminishing any of the existing versions is a problem for people far clever than I.

But having just spent two days in the 2013 SLS Black Series for a video that’ll land shortly- it being both the most recent model in the short but mostly glorious Black Series saga and the spiritual predecessor to the forthcoming car - I can say for certain that AMG has its work cut out. With its showy gullwing doors and what I am now convinced is one of the best performance car engines of recent memory, the SLS Black Series is even better than its reputation suggests. It is stunning. The car owes a lot to its M159 6.2-litre V8, which binds big capacity muscle to the kind of ferocious top end you normally only get with smaller, higher revving V8s. It is undoubtedly AMG’s masterpiece.

The new Black Series will use an uprated version of the now very familiar turbocharged 4.0-litre V8, however, so we can assume its motor won’t be as special as the SLS’s. A pity, but we’ll live with it. What I think will prove to be a bigger problem for AMG’s engineers is making the new car steer anything like as well as the old one. We’ll be shown charts and spreadsheets that demonstrate how the GT’s steering is more direct, more linear and all the rest of it. But what’s good about the SLS’s steering cannot be plotted in Excel. By any measure, the SLS Black Series is a terrifying car - vast, enormously powerful and fearsomely expensive - but the steering is so accurate, so perfectly judged and so talkative that within just a handful of miles you feel right on top of the car and full of confidence.

Steering has always been a problem for the AMG GT. The early cars had tillers so light and flighty you could sneeze and find the front end of the car locked onto an entirely different line. With every year and each new derivative AMG has made improvements, but I’ll bet here and now the new Black Series will not flood you with confidence through its most important contact point the way the previous one does.

You can count on one hand the number of supercars that steer as well today as their predecessors did a decade ago - electric steering has a lot to answer for - so Mercedes-AMG certainly isn’t alone in this. But after driving the SLS Black Series along the Beachy Head road for two solid days last month, even now I find myself daydreaming not about its flamboyant doors or its spaceship styling or even its incredible V8, but about the remarkable way in which it steers. I’m not about to lose any sleep worrying, but it’d be good if the same somehow turns out to be true of the AMG GT Black Series.

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