2010 Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG Black Series

2010 Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG Black Series

Apologies to the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, but the 2010 Mercedes-Benz SL65 Black Series has just trumped it as the most powerful Mercedes-Benz ever made. This rare and menacing SL is the third Mercedes to earn Black Series status, and while the third time is usually the charm, in this case it's a cruise missile. With all the king's horses - 661 of them - Mercedes says that its ber-Benz accelerates to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds and needs to be electronically restrained to its 199-mph top speed.

Unlike other SLs, the Black Series isn't a convertible. Instead, it has a fixed, carbon-fiber roof with a more raked rear window. Carbon-fiber hood, fascias, and front fenders extend the SL's width by almost an inch, and enormous wheels (9.5 by 19 inches up front, 11.5 by 20 inches at the rear) help widen its track by almost five - five! - inches. At highway speeds, with the automatic rear wing raised, the fat-fendered, low-roofed SL looks like it escaped from a DTM race.

To produce the extra power, AMG bolted larger turbos to the SL65's 6.0-liter V-12. As in the SL65, maximum torque is limited to 738 lb-ft to protect the five-speed automatic transmission, which is here equipped with two manual-shift modes and has the ability to blip the throttle on downshifts. The bigger turbos create more lag at low revs, a liability that's offset by big power gains at the top of the tach.

The standard SL's electrohydraulic brakes were ditched in favor of a conventional hydraulic system, and to save weight, the Active Body Control suspension was replaced with an adjustable coil-over setup. The Black Series weighs in at 4345 pounds, 210 pounds less than the SL65, and although that weight loss is impressive, the European version sheds an additional 300 pounds by using single-piece racing-style bucket seats and air-bag-less carbon-fiber door panels that wouldn't meet U.S. side-impact regulations. The remainder of the Black Series' interior is similar to that of the regular SL65 AMG, which is a little disappointing given the new model's $100,000 price premium.

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