10 things to know about the new 2020 Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series
Mercedes on Wednesday whipped the covers off its utterly insane new AMG GT Black Series. Equipped with the most powerful AMG V8 series engine of all-time as well as a raft of other performance upgrades, this super sports car hits the road running with motorsport-derived technology (it looks achingly similar to the Mercedes-AMG GT3 car currently running in the GT World Challenge) that makes it perfectly suited for ripping up your favourite race tracks. Here's a look at just some of the features that make so special.
1. A totally bespoke powerplant
Pop that lightweight carbon-fibre bonnet and your eyes will be met by a special and ultra high-performance version of Mercedes' venerable 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 motor.
Now featuring a flat-plane crank (the sort of engine architecture that's usually the reserve of cars built by McLaren and Ferrari) for improved throttle response throughout the rev range, this new dry-sumped M178 'LS2' engine also benefits from more aggressive camshafts plus a revised intake and exhaust system. Topped off bigger turbochargers it produces 537kW and 800Nm of torque - the latter between 2,000 and 6,000rpm.
All this muscle is sent exclusively to the rear wheels via an upgraded version of the seven-speed AMG Speedshift DCT 7G dual-clutch transmission already used in the 'lesser' AMG GT R. Re-engineered with slightly modified gear ratios, this robust unit boasts enhanced cooling for improved track endurance. Mercedes has also increased the limits of shift performance and reduced response times making it better suited to circuit driving. Linking this transmission to the engine is a new carbon-fibre torque tube that, tipping the scales at a svelte 13.9kg, is 40% lighter than the one doing duty in the standard AMG GT.
2. Much carbon-fibre adds lightness and stiffness
To help make the Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series as feathery as possible the design team made liberal use of carbon-fibre. The roof, bonnet, bootlid, front wings and aerodynamic aids such as the rear spoiler and front splitter have all been fashioned from this exotic material. It's also been used to make some of the car's key structural components including the adjustable front strut brace and unique engine shear panel specifically designed to strengthen the front end and improve steering feel. All of this makes the Black Series notably lighter, stiffer and more responsive than the GT R when driven in anger.
3. Bragworthy performance figures
With its trick V8 engine and distinctive timbre, the new Black Series is one seriously rapid piece of kit. Mercedes-AMG claims that it will romp to 200km/h in under nine seconds while the benchmark 0-100km/h dash is dispatched in a mere 3.2 seconds (that's 0.4 seconds quicker than the GT R). Top speed? You're looking at a jail-baiting 325km/h.
4. A snout inspired by the AMG GT3
The sharp-end of the AMG GT Black Series features technology adapted from the highly successful AMG GT3 and GT4 racing cars. Like that enormous new central grille than channels air not just to the radiator and engine intake but also the charge coolers. This negates the need for the two additional outer air inlets in the front apron. In their place you'll now find sickle-shaped 'flics' that improve downforce and aid in brake cooling. Behind them you'll find 'air curtains' that control and direct the flow towards the wheels.
However the most noteworthy features must be the adjustable front splitter and those two distinctive exhaust air outlets carved into the bonnet. Hewn from carbon-fibre, the Black Series splitter has two manually adjustable modes: Street and Race. Choosing the latter sees it extend outwards to create a front diffuser with a reversed wing profile. Depending on the driving speed, this element is lowered even further by the rising negative pressure, which accelerates the airflow on the underbody, creating a 'Venturi effect', which draws the car closer to the road and increases downforce on the front axle.
Those two enormous bonnet exhaust air outlets meanwhile help expel hot air from inside the engine bay and in doing so have a positive effect on the car's aerodynamics: overall downforce is increased and air resistance is significantly reduced. It's also interesting to note that this this exhaust air is channeled around the car's A-pillars and side windows to the rear, where it increases the efficiency of that new adaptive boot-mounted spoiler.
5. Rubber tailored by Michelin
To ensure optimal traction and performance the new GT Black Series comes fitted with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 R MO tyres that were specially customised to match the car's performance potential. This unique tyre is available in both soft and hard compounds, the latter being better suited to the rigors of high-temperature track driving. Sizes are also staggered with 285/35 ZR 19 tyres doing duty up front and 335/30 ZR 20 tyres at the rear.
6. Nine-step traction control
Another motorsport-derived feature native to the GT Black Series is an adjustable AMG Traction Control system that offers no less than nine individual slip settings. Operated via a chunky rotary dial mounted on the car's centre console, this system allows the driver to manually adjust the traction control to suit real-time conditions. Level 1 is programmed for driving in the wet with high safety reserves. Level 9 allows maximum slip on the rear axle. Each setting is displayed on the adjuster itself as well as in the instrument cluster.
7. Optional AMG Track Package
Many owners will be wanting to drive their GT Black Series on the track as much as possible. Consequently Mercedes-AMG is offering the AMG Track Package as an option. Ticking this box adds the following circuit-bred modifications: carbon-fibre bucket seats, roll-over protection system, four-point seatbelts for both driver and passenger plus a 2kg fire extinguisher. 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. This system also improves the car's structural rigidity.
8. Adjustable rear wing with active aero
Similar in concept to the front splitter, the blades of the rear wing can be mechanically adjusted to provide varying levels of downforce. The top blade also holds an active aerodynamic element that is electronically adjusted by 20 degrees in order to suit the driving situation and selected AMG Dynamics mode. 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.
Four different activation strategies can be run, depending on whether AMG Dynamics Basic, Advanced, Pro or Master has been selected. Some of these strategies also involve driving dynamics recognition, for example, Master: The flap is permanently inclined and extended up to 250 km/h. When the speed exceeds 250 km/h, it retracts in order to reduce the air resistance and thus reach the top speed more quickly.
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.
9. High performance chassis tuned to deliver
The chassis of the GT Black Series benefits from upgraded suspension components. These include the addition of new forged aluminium double wishbone suspension arms, steering knuckles and hub carriers on the front and rear axle. This helps reduce unsprung weight, which is always beneficial to a car's handling. Spherical bearings on the upper and lower wishbones means that toe-in and camber setting do not change even under high loads. As such drivers can expect better steering feel as well as improved cornering performance.
Adjustable coilover suspension with constantly variable adaptive dampers come fitted as standard equipment as does the AMG ceramic high-performance compound brake system that utilises motorsport brake pads and discs both optimised for improved fade resistance and temperature stability. The calipers are black with white lettering.
10. It's coming to South Africa
Mercedes has confirmed that the new AMG GT Black Series will be made available in SA. Expect it to land on our shores by the second quarter of 2021. While pricing is yet to be confirmed we can tell you that it won't be cheap. UK pricing is tipped to be in the region of £330,000 - roughly R6,891,020. The production run will also be limited.