Wraps of faster Mercedes-Benz 'Gullwing'

GREG KABLE
Last updated 07:00 15/11/2012
Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series 'Gullwing'.
Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series 'Gullwing'.

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Mercedes-Benz has revealed its spectacular new 464kW 6.2-litre V8 powered SLS AMG Black Series in a series of official photographs ahead of the powered-up gullwing coupe's eagerly anticipated public debut at the 2012 Los Angeles motor show later this month.


Click on photo at left for more views of the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series 'Gullwing'.


Sporting a series of aerodynamic and mechanical developments brought over from the SLS AMG GT3 race car, the headlining AMG model is the fifth in a series of limited-production Black Series models, following on from the high-priced SLK55, CLK55, SL65 and C63 AMG Black Series.

As tradition dictates, the SLS AMG Black Series is outwardly distinguished by a series of exterior styling changes that serve to provide it with a distinctly brawnier appearance than the standard SLS AMG – all in keeping with its circuit-bred lineage.

Included is a deeper front spoiler with carbon fibre splitter element, carbon fibre winglets to aid airflow to the front brakes, a carbon fibre bonnet with a large central duct for improved engine cooling, front wings widened by 13mm and rear wings widened by 26mm – both necessitated by the new car's widened tracks and larger wheels and tyres, wider sills with carbon fibre inserts and a significantly larger rear diffuser, also fashioned from carbon fibre.

In a nod to its increased performance potential, AMG's latest model will also come with an optional aerodynamic package that sees additional winglets attached to the outer corners of the front bumper, as well as a prominent rear-wing attached to the boot lid in place of the standard retractable arrangement.

Along with its more purposeful styling, the SLS AMG Black Series also adopts a number of weight-saving measures shared with the electric-powered SLS AMG Electric Drive revealed at the recent Paris motor show. Beyond the carbon fibre bonnet, it also uses a carbon fibre rear bulkhead and centre tunnel in a move that sees it shed 70kg over the standard SLS AMG at 1550kg.

At the heart of Stuttgart's new supercar is a heavily tuned version of AMG's M159 designated engine developing 44kW more than the standard SLS AMG and 30kW more than the recently introduced SLS AMG GT, with 464kW delivered at 7400rpm. Torque, on the other hand, has dropped by 15Nm over both existing gullwing models, with 435Nm on offer from a relatively high 5500rpm.

The naturally aspirated 6.2-litre V8 petrol unit adopts a series of detailed modifications already featured on the SLS AMG GT3 race car, including a larger inlet manifold, high-lift camshaft, revised valve tappets, revised oil system, lighter bearings, stiffer conrods and a gas strut mounting that is claimed to reduce load change during hard cornering.

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Further engine changes centre around the exhaust system, which switches from steel to titanium construction – a move AMG claims not only provides a 13kg reduction in weight and reduced back pressure, but an even more striking exhaust note.

Despite the wholesale upgrade, the SLS AMG Black Series is not the most powerful version of Mercedes-Benz's re-born gullwing coupe. That distinction goes to the SLS AMG Electric Drive, whose quartet of electric motors provides a combined 552kW and 1000Nm of torque.

Together with its added reserves, the SLS AMG Black Series' modified engine possesses a greater ability to rev; peak power is developed 600rpm higher in the range, maximum torque is delivered 750rpm higher and the ignition cut-out is raised from 7200rpm on the standard unit to 8000rpm – the highest of any existing road-going AMG model. In light of the weight-saving measures brought to the new car, the weight-to-power ratio has also improved by 0.5kg/kW to 3.3kg/kW – the best of any Black Series model to date.

Channelling drive to the rear wheels is a modified six-speed double-clutch transaxle. The Getrag-produced unit, which forms part of the rear axle assembly, has been extensively reworked with a new mounting system that situates it 10mm lower than on the standard SLS AMG as part of efforts to lower the new car's overall centre of gravity, revised software that is claimed to provide faster and more aggressive downshifts and a lower final drive for improved acceleration in combination with the increased torque loading.

Additional driveline developments include the adoption of an electronically controlled differential lock in place of the existing mechanical arrangement. The new system is claimed to provide faster lock-up intervention, improved traction and increased yaw rate for added agility. The three-stage electronic stability control (ESC) and race-start system has also been recalibrated in line with the car's increased performance.

Mercedes-Benz's AMG performance off-shoot claims the SLS AMG Black Series accelerates from 0 to 100km/h in 3.6 seconds and reaches a top speed of 315km/h. By comparison, the standard SLS AMG is rated at 3.8 seconds and 317km/h, while the SLS AMG GT is put at 3.7 seconds and 320km/h; the incremental reduction in top speed over its less powerful siblings being a reflection of the new car's added downforce, according to Mercedes-Benz.

Underpinning the new car is a heavily revised chassis boasting tracks that have increased by 20mm in width up front and 24mm in width at the rear, new wheel carriers and a larger diameter front roll bar. The double wishbone suspension has also come in for heavy revision and is said to be 50 per cent firmer up-front and 42 per cent firmer at the rear than the standard SLS AMG, while also offering manual adjustment of the damping for individual tuning.

Further changes centre around the adoption of unique 19-inch front and 20-inch alloy wheels with a 10-spoke design shod with 275/35 and 325/30 Michael Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres respectively – an arrangement that is claimed will bring about a 4kg saving in weight for a reduction in unsprung masses. The SLS AMG Black Series also uses ceramic composite brakes, featuring 402mm front and 360mm rear discs, as standard.

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