The Mercedes-AMG GT has manifested quite a few variants over its six years here on this earth. Compared with its ancestors, the Mercedes-McLaren SLR and the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, the GT and GT S that debuted in 2015 seemed almost plebeian by comparison; while the SLR battled the Ferrari Enzo and Porsche Carrera GT and the SLS faced off against the likes of the Lamborghini Gallardo and Ferrari 458, the AMG GT was aimed more at the likes of the Porsche 911 Carrera and Aston Martin Vantage. It was a sports car, not a supercar.
But then AMG started spicing things up. They rolled out the GT R, a more powerful, track-tuned version of the base model. Then they rolled out the GT R Pro, an even more powerful, more track-tuned version of that. And now, here in 2021, Mercedes-AMG has rolled out an even more powerful, even more track-ready version of its halo car: the Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series. After a brief stint in it under the hot Florida sun, here's what we learned.
For our admittedly short first taste of the new Black Series, Mercedes-Benz USA didn't even bother offering us a chance to drive it on the street; instead, they turned the assemblage of journalists loose at the two-mile course of The Concours Club, Miami's brand-new, super-bougie private race track.
To be fair, most roads would be ill-suited to giving this max attack AMG GT a chance to strut its stuff. Like many modern AMG models, there's a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 under the hood, but this one is special; it uses a flat-plane crankshaft, which, in this case, helps boost power and throttle response alike. The result: 720 horsepower — the most of any AMG V8 ever — available from 6,700 to 6,900 rpm. At those engine speed, suffice it to say, the new Black Series makes a sound unlike other AMGs: still smooth as tearing silk, but a touch higher — tenor, not baritone.
On the track, that engine translates to a nasty (in the best way) shove of power that keeps building and building, until you're pressed back in your seat the way Jeff Bezos is when his suggestive rocket takes flight. Like many a modern AMG, the Black Series offers a mind-bending number of ways to vary its electronic driver systems — three modes for the suspension, nine modes for the traction control, three displays for the instrument panel, three modes for the enigmatic AMG Dynamics system, etc. — but also like many other modern AMGs, the car's systems are generally smart enough that you can simply dial the drive mode selector on the wheel up to Race mode (when the teeny screen in the dial turns red, you're set) and leave the settings to the car while you pick your line and go nuts.
Nasty doesn't just describe the car's performance, however; it's a good adjective for the AMG GT Black Series's appearance, and again, in the very best way. The Black Series's exterior is replete with aerodynamic additions that look peeled off a Le Mans racer, from the dual-level wing to the sharp rear diffusers to the massive chin spoiler that could have been pulled from a cybernetic Leno.
On the track, that translates to even more grip than you'd expect, even with that wide stance clad in extra-wide, extra-sticky track tires. In fact, those wild wings, massive vents and other air-rending features helped in no small part to allow the AMG GT Black Series to nab the current production car record at the Nurburgring Nordschleife — 6 minutes and 43.6 seconds on the 12.8-mile circuit.
The days of having to live with a bare-bones race car-spec interior in your high-end track attacker are long gone; like with the McLaren 765LT, the Black Series comes outfitted with a full array of comfort features, from climate control to supportive-yet-comfortable microsuede-lined seats to a full infotainment setup, should you prefer the sound of SiriusXM to the voice of an instructor while running laps. Finding a comfortable spot for my head with a size-XL helmet on took a minute of adjustment, but once settled in, my long-limbed frame felt snug as a bug in a rug. (Long trips in the Mercedes-AMG GT usually require stretch breaks every two hours or so, in my experience, but for shorter stints, it's an ergonomically ideal driving environment.)
That said, you may still have to live with the occasional bout of discomfort. Under the conditions of that particular day — ambient temperatures in the mid-nineties, tropical humidity, intermittent clouds — the Black Series's air conditioning conked out after several minutes of track use, leaving me with the choice of opening the windows and losing my perfect aerodynamics or turning into Ace Ventura in that mechanical rhino. (I chose the windows.)
That said, the climate that day was unpleasant enough that, a little more than halfway through the session, the Black Series I was driving saw engine temperatures rise past 270º Fahrenheit — high enough for the temperature gauge on the digital dash to turn red and the car to begin short-shifting and cutting power. Admittedly, though, the day's conditions — continuous hot lapping on a Miami summer afternoon — were on the edge of extreme, and only one of the two test cars seemed to be affected, so I wouldn't consider it an indictment of the car just yet.
You can if you want, but it's too late anyway: even at a price that starts at $325,000, every example coming to the United States is already spoken for.
Of course, that sort of money opens up a lot of other doors. The aforementioned McLaren 765LT costs roughly the same amount, for example. (It also looks equally good in orange and black.) Lamborghini's Huracan STO also costs about the same, and also accomplishes the same sort of mission. Hold on a year or two, and Porsche will no doubt offer a 911 GT3 RS or GT2 RS that'll be equally capable of blowing your mind on a race track.
All that, of course, is assuming you actually plan on regularly driving your $300,000-plus super sports car on the track. (Which, these days, almost certainly requires paying big annual bucks for a membership at a place like The Concours Club or Monticello Motor Club.) If track days are few and far between, you'd probably be better off opting for something along the lines of a Ferrari F8, Lamborghini Huracan Evo or McLaren 720S Spider — supercars that deliver equally astounding performance on the street but with a dash more usability (if for no other reason than they lack that extended, delicate chin).
Still, if lapping tracks is your go-to hobby and you find a way to slide into MBUSA's DMs and score a Black Series somehow, you won't be disappointed. After all...only one car at a time can be the 'Ring lap holder.
Base Price: $325,000
Powertrain: 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8, seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, rear-wheel-drive
Torque: 590 lb-ft
EPA Fuel Economy: 15 mpg city, 20 mpg highway
Feel the need for speed? Be ready to be blown away by this Macca.