537kW Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series – Be afraid

2020 Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series

Shoehorned into this thing is the most powerful AMG V8 series engine ever, the most flamboyant design, and about as close to a GT3 racer for the road as you can get.

The hallowed Black Series badge is not one that Mercedes-AMG hands out lightly. It’s only worn by the most extreme models it can make. And this GT Black Series is only the sixth vehicle to wear the badge, and it’s a nutcase.

In a nutshell, Mercedes-AMG says, “the Black Series has been synonymous with a very special type of car since 2006: uncompromisingly sporty, with an expressive design and the most consistent technology transfer from motorsport to series production”.

2020 Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series

But these things aren’t intended to sit in the corner of a collector’s garage. Rather Mercedes-AMG expects its buyers to thrash the thing at a race track at every single opportunity. 

Under the bonnet is a 4.0-litre bi-turbo V8 that thumps out 537kW and 800Nm of torque, but more than just having more power and torque than the nuts GT-R, the GT Black Series’ engine features a ‘flat-plane’ crankshaft which gives the thing more urgency. Indeed, it’ll get to 100km/h in 3.2 seconds. Other tweaks to the engine include exhaust changes, alterations to the firing order and bigger compressor wheels for the turbochargers. For instance, the uprated turbos can now deliver 1100 kilograms of air per hour where the GT-R variant only delivers 900kg/h. The transmission is a seven-speed dual-clutch jobbie that’s been modified to handle the extra torque.

And if the 0-100km/h time isn’t impressive enough, the GT Black Series will rocket to 200km/h in less than 9.0 seconds. And the top speed is 325km/h.

“This all adds up to very different handling characteristics, as not only are the accelerator and engine response more agile – the drive programs, start-up characteristics and gear changes are, too,” Mercedes-AMG said.

The Race Start function is “more impressive”, thanks to the higher idle, the more sensitive wheel slip control and the sports tyres. The transmission cooling has been beefed up, and the transmission ratios have also been slightly modified. All up, it should deliver a faster, more energetic vehicle.

Weight saving is a part of the Black Series badge and Mercedes-AMG took the connecting rod between engine and transmission (torque tube) and threw away the old one and fitted a carbon-fibre one in its place. It weighs just 13.9kg which makes it around 40% lighter than the one in the AMG GT. 

In terms of looks, the designers took cues from both the GT3 and GT4 race cars. There’s a larger radiator air inlet which also feeds the wheel arch coolers. This means the air inlets in the apron of the GT have been removed. There are sickle-shaped flics to help shape the airflow around the front of the GT Black Series and improve downforce at speed, as well as maximising airflow for cooling.

The carbon-fibre front splitter has two manually adjustable settings (Street and Race – Race exclusively for use on racetracks), and can therefore be adapted to meet various track requirements. When extended forward (Race position), a front diffuser in the shape of a reversed wing profile is created under the front section. 

2020 Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series

Depending on the driving speed, “this element is lowered even further by the rising negative pressure, which significantly accelerates the air flow on the underbody, creating a ‘Venturi effect’, which also draws the car closer to the road and increases downforce on the front axle”. So cool.

Another direct derivative from motorsport is the new carbon-fibre bonnet, with two large exhaust air outlets made from black finished carbon surfaces. The large outlets guide the warm air, which is fed from the diagonally positioned cooling pack, out of the engine compartment. The air is then guided around the A-pillars and side windows to the rear, where it increases the efficiency of the new rear aerofoil concept. 

There’s a movable flap in the upper blade which can be adjusted by up to 20 degrees depending on the driving conditions. In a flat position, it reduces the air resistance, to help reach the top speed more quickly. In the inclined position, the flap improves braking performance and cornering stability thanks to increased downforce at the rear axle, said Mercedes-AMG.

And there are four different positions for the blade which it can automatically adjust to based on the driving mode selected. For example, select the Master driving mode, and the flap is permanently inclined and extended at speeds up to 250km/h. When the speed exceeds 250km/h, it retracts in order to reduce the air resistance. However, if the driver brakes suddenly or steers into a corner, the flap immediately returns to its extended position in order to optimise braking and cornering thanks to increased downforce and air resistance. The flap can also be retracted or extended by the driver using a separate button in the centre console. And the aerodynamics continues underneath with all sorts of fins to help make the car slippery, cool it down or improve downforce. Indeed, all of the fins and body shaping contribute to around 400kg of downforce at 250km/h.

The bonnet, roof and tailgate are all made from carbon-fibre because it’s thin, strong  and light. Even the glass is thin but strong to save weight. The standard light-alloy forged wheels also contribute to weight reduction. The coiled carbon-fibre transmission mount is another exclusive Black Series component. Additional carbon-fibre shear panels in the front section, underbody and rear stiffen the entire aluminium bodyshell structure. 

As with the AMG GT R, an AMG coil-over suspension with adjustable spring preload is used in the Black Series. This is combined with AMG RIDE CONTROL continuously variable, adaptive dampers. 

2020 Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series

The driver can also adjust the adaptive damping characteristics via the AMG DRIVE UNIT or by using the AMG DYNAMIC SELECT drive modes. Three modes are available: Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus. Comfort and Sport are for public roads. Sport Plus is ideal for use on racetracks as it can “recognise the quality of the track surface, i.e. whether the car is being driven on a flat Grand Prix course like Hockenheim or a bumpy track like the Nürburgring North Loop. It then automatically adapts the level of electronic damping in ‘Sport Plus’. To develop this logic, the Black Series was tailored to a wide range of different track types and the adaptation perfected”. Spooky.

A Pilot Sport Cup 2 R MO tyre, specially customised for the Black Series, has been developed in collaboration with Michelin and is available in two compounds for owners: The standard tyre fitted ex-factory is the soft-compound Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 R MO1A. A ‘hard compound’ is also available as a retro-fitting option for race track use at higher temperatures. The sizes are 10 J x 19 wheels with 285/35 ZR 19 tyres (front) and 12 J x 20 wheel with 335/30 ZR 20 tyres (rear).

If you want to get jiggy with the GT Black Series there are nine different traction control settings and when you turn them off…they’re off. When the traction system is running it’s designed to try and preempt situations by constantly measuring friction and wheel movement. When the wheels meet the threshold set by the traction setting, engine power is reduced so this set level of slip is not exceeded. The system algorithms have been developed as a “double-control variable model and not only control the engine’s drive torque, but also the locking level of the electronic differential lock”.

On the inside, there’s nappa leather and orange contrast stitching. The instrument panel and the newly designed lightweight door panels, which are now equipped with loop pull handles instead of conventional handles, are trimmed in black DINAMICA microfibre. Sporty AMG carbon-fibre bucket seats round out the interior and should keep you pinned in place (not available in the USA, Canada and China). The interior is also optionally available with grey contrasting topstitching.

But there’s more. The AMG Track Package is available as an option in several markets. It comprises a roll-over protection system, four-point seatbelts for driver and front passenger, and a 2kg fire extinguisher (both items exclusively designed for racetrack use). The lightweight bolted titanium-tube cage of the roll-over protection system consists of a main roll bar, a brace for mounting the seat belts, two rear braces and a diagonal X-brace at the rear. The system further increases the already excellent vehicle rigidity and thus also has a positive influence on the vehicle’s driving dynamics. It also increases passive safety.

Look, this thing doesn’t need to exist because there are other vehicles out there that will do some of the same jobs it does much, much better for a lot less money. But, as car enthusiasts we should all celebrate the mad science that’s gone into making this thing.

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Isaac Bober has been writing about cars and 4x4s for more than 20 years, has worked on some of the country's biggest motoring magazines (remember what they were?), and launched Practical Motoring. Now he's back, back again... to share dad jokes and much more.