2010 Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG Black Series

Unlike BMW's M division, which put itself on the map by creating drivers' cars out of normal BMWs, AMG's cars - often the product of applying ludicrous power to regular Mercedes cars - make the ultimate I-outrank-you statements. And when your neighbors have an AMG in the driveway, there's only one way to beat them - an AMG Black Series.

To own a Black Series is to join an exclusive club, and this, the third Black Series, is the most expensive and most powerful yet. The first Black Series, based on the SLK55, was not exported to the States. The second, the 2008 CLK63 AMG Black Series, was one of our favorite cars of that year - a $135,000 fire-breathing, track-ready monster. And now, the SL65 AMG has been unleashed on North American soil. Deliveries start in January of 2009, with 175 of the 350 total SL65 Black Series produced headed for our shores. The sticker price will be right around $300,000 - a shocking number indeed. But the SL65 BS is the most powerful Mercedes-Benz ever made, and it's a relative bargain compared to the Mercedes-McLaren SLR Roadster, which costs $200,000 more.

The more expensive SLR's 5.4-liter supercharged V-8 produces 617 horsepower and 575 lb-ft of torque, numbers that are easily trumped by the Black Series. It has a 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-12 that produces 661 horsepower and 738 lb-ft of torque. Mind you, just like other AMG twin-turbocharged AMG V-12s, this engine is detuned to protect the transmission - it would otherwise produce 885 lb-ft. Increased power comes courtesy of additional cooling (both for the engine and for the intake air), a less restrictive exhaust, and larger turbos. Maximum boost is about 11.6 psi - and the bigger turbos help maintain that boost level even at high revs. The result is a V-12 that's less diesel-like in its power delivery, with a broad torque curve that doesn't fall off suddenly at high engine speeds.

The transmission is the same five-speed automatic that other V-12s get; it remains the only gearbox in the company's arsenal that can cope with this much torque. Equipped with a two manual modes (one shifts more quickly than the other), the latest version of this aging gearbox will hold whatever gear you select, and will match revs to help prevent the rear end from coming loose during downshifts.

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