2009 Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG Black Series

As Automobile Magazine first reported in its April 2008 issue, the Mercedes-Benz SL is the latest car to get the bad-to-the-bone Black Series treatment. The company has now revealed the first pictures of the new uber-SL, which is so hard-core it makes the pavement-warping SL65 AMG look like a boulevardier for Beverly Hills matrons.

The Black Series uses a more powerful version of the SL65 AMG car's 6.0-liter, twin-turbocharged V-12 (good for 670 hp and 738 lb-ft of torque), with the added output coming via redesigned turbochargers, a reconfigured air intake, and less restrictive exhaust. The more potent V-12 powers a car that is a whopping 570 lbs lighter. The result is a 0-to-62-mph time of 3.9 seconds and a top speed of 200 mph [Mercedes-Benz figures].

The dramatic weight loss is due to several factors. First, the Black Series has a fixed hardtop (with an integral roll bar). Second is the extensive use of carbon-fiber components, including the roof, trunk lid, hood, front fenders, and bumpers. Third, a switch from Mercedes Active Body Control suspension to adjustable steel springs saved a few more pounds.

The brakes are the same as in the SL65 AMG, as is the five-speed automatic transmission, although here it adds a second, quicker, manual-shift mode. The front and rear track is wider, and the steering has been redesigned for a more direct feel.

The Black Series' unique bodywork leaves little doubt as to its intentions. The swollen fenders accommodate ultra-wide tires (265/35ZR19s at the front, 325/30ZR20s in the rear). The openings in the hood and the fenders aid cooling, and the rear spoiler automatically extends at 75 mph. Even the roofline, more rakish here and extending further into the deck lid, is unique compared to other SLs.

This the third Mercedes-Benz model to get the race-car-for-the-street Black Series treatment. The first was the SLK, in June 2006, but that car was not sold in the United States. Next came the CLK Black Series, in April 2007, and Americans snapped up roughly 350 of the 700 cars built. The SL Black Series also will come to America, although its volumes will be even more limited, with a total of only 350 cars available worldwide. It's expected to arrive here in November, priced at around $250,000.

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