I know what you’re thinking. The Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series is limited in terms of production numbers and all 28 destined for Australian shores have already been sold.
They’re so rare the one vehicle we had access to for a drive around Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit was loaned by a very generous customer who was happy for us to spend the afternoon driving as fast as we could. Thank you to that person!
Our experience with the GT Black Series was limited to track laps of Phillip Island, we didn’t venture out on to the road mainly because the weather was turning in a big way. More on this later.
Still, a racetrack seems like the perfect place to put a car like this through its paces, right?
The last hurrah for the current Mercedes-AMG GT is arriving in Australia priced at $796,900 before on-road costs, making it 116 per cent more expensive than a GT R.
Just 28 examples were offered to Australia and they’ve all been accounted for, with deliveries in progress as we speak.
Outside of the asking price, buyers can choose from 10 external colours. They’re all free of charge, with the exception of the AMG Magma Beam colour seen here and AMG Green Hell Magno, which demand a $16,400 premium.
Buyers of the AMG One are also able to buy one of 275 limited GT Black Series limited-edition models that come in a unique Formula 1-esque paint job that signifies they have one of Mercedes-AMG’s most exclusive vehicles on order.
The craziest part about the pricing isn’t the cost you see above, but the luxury car tax. The base price of the vehicle is $571,694 before $57,169 is added in GST and a whopping $167,914 is added in LCT.
It’s certainly not unique to Mercedes-Benz, but it’s crazy to think that more than 20 per cent of the final price is paid to the government to protect a local car industry that doesn’t exist any longer.
Given it’s the top of the AMG GT tree, the GT Black Series comes generously equipped.
Standard equipment includes:
- 19/20-inch AMG 10-spoke forged wheels
- Carbon-fibre bucket seats
- Adaptive suspension
- Carbon-ceramic brakes
- 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster
- 10.25-inch infotainment system
- Apple CarPlay
- Satellite navigation
- DAB+ digital radio
- Nappa leather and Dinamica microfibre upholstery
- Dinamica microfibre-wrapped steering wheel
- Burmester 1000-watt, 11-speaker premium sound system
- Roll cage
- Four-point seatbelts
- Power-folding exterior mirrors
- LED headlights with adaptive high-beam
- Front and reversing cameras
The Mercedes-AMG GT hasn’t been crash tested by ANCAP or Euro NCAP, but it does come with all the standard safety equipment you’d expect.
This includes lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, traffic sign recognition, and front, side and curtain airbags plus a driver’s knee airbag.
Additionally it has low and high-speed autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and a 360-degree camera with front and rear parking sensors.
The AMG GT Black Series looks incredible in person. The pictures simply don’t do it justice.
When we arrived at the track, the lower splitter was setup in race mode – one of two settings that takes advantage of the aero you can only achieve with an extended lower lip.
When extended, it’s held in place with two metal arms that prevent it from retracting as the pace picks up. And the pace certainly does, with Mercedes-AMG clocking a production car record at the Nurburgring in November 2020 of under seven minutes.
The menacing look continues at the rear with the dual-tier adjustable carbon wing. It’s worth noting in addition to the rear wing and front splitter, the ride height, camber and anti-roll bars can be adjusted as required to hit the optimum settings.
A box of camber shims offer eight levels of adjustment and can be adjusted by the dealer to create the optimum setup for a track day.
Inside the cabin it feels like a race car that’s detoured through a Mercedes-Benz dealership for an equipment upgrade. Standard fitment for Australia are a set of four-point race harnesses for the front seats.
If you can’t be bothered with those there’s a regular set of belts to lock you into position within the carbon-fibre bucket seats.
Behind the first row is a titanium roll bar that facilitates a tie-down point for the top two four-point harness straps.
Outside of that, the rest of the cabin feels like a regular AMG GT, which is good news. That means you get a central 10.25-inch infotainment system with wired Apple CarPlay and built-in satellite navigation.
There’s also an 11-speaker, 1000W Burmester sound system, although you really won’t be hearing it much once the GT Black Series is on the move.
Ahead of the driver is a 12.3-inch driver display that gives you all the information you need for track driving. Moving through the drive modes adjusts the contents of the screen, while the central infotainment screen can be used for the Track Pace program that gives you live track timing as you whip around the circuit.
Beneath the air vents is a nine-way adjustable traction control system that can be used in concert with set drive modes that are selected on a steering wheel dial.
The steering wheel itself, along with the dashboard and doors are finished in Alcantara, while the door card is a textured material designed to save weight within the door.
One other cool features – well, I think it’s cool anyway – are the seals around the doors and windows designed to offer a smooth operating experience at over 300km/h. They require around 25 per cent more closing force than a standard car to create an adequate seal that will still operate closer to the car’s top speed of 325km/h.
Cargo capacity comes in at 286 litres. It’s surprisingly good when you consider how much is going on within the car. It’s big enough for a few helmets or a medium-sized suitcase.
The track-ready GT Black Series uses an upgraded version of the GT’s twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8, now codenamed M178 LS2 (not the type you’ll find in an HSV). It’s the first AMG V8 to use a flat-plane crankshaft and features new camshafts and exhaust manifolds and larger intercoolers.
Outputs are up considerably, with the Black Series producing 537kW of power at 6700-6900 rpm and 800Nm of torque at 2000-6000rpm. It does the 0-100km/h sprint in just 3.2 seconds.
By comparison, the GT R produces 430kW of power and 700Nm of torque, and takes 3.6 seconds to reach 100km/h.
The twin-turbo V8 is mated to a beefed-up seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission driving the rear wheels.
Other changes include an almost fully-panelled underbody to aid aerodynamics, plus a new carbon-fibre bonnet and exhaust outlets. Weight savings have also been found through the use of thinner glass.
The carbon-fibre front splitter is adjustable, as is an electric flap in the upper blade of the new, two-piece carbon-fibre rear wing.
All local GT Black Series models have the Track Package as standard, with a lightweight, bolted titanium-tube cage and four-point seatbelts.
The GT Black Series is the sixth AMG to wear the Black Series nameplate and the first one since 2013.
Our drive day was scheduled for the Friday, but with 30-45mm of rain forecast for Phillip Island, along with winds and a storm, the team was able to get us in late the day before to get a run at the track.
The weather was absolutely perfect; 20 degrees and sunny. The car was wearing the soft version of its Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 R tyres. There’s a soft and hard compound tyre depending on the conditions being driven.
I was first cab off the rank. To get us familiar with the track (I’ve been here countless times, but it’s always a reward to get tips from some of the best drivers in the country before heading out in a beast like the Black Series) we hopped in the Mercedes-AMG C63 S for track familiarisation.
It’s one of my all-time favourite performance sedans because it’s a ball-tearer that sounds awesome and is incredible fun to drive at pace. Our five laps were over pretty quickly and I felt ready to move from the fast C63 S into the mega-fast GT Black Series.
At idle there’s a distinctively different exhaust note in comparison to the standard GT. It’s still V8-like, but it has a different tone to it. It’s not quite as deep or sonorous, but it can’t be mistaken for anything other than a supercar.
I was lucky enough to drive the GT R Pro here not too long ago and was expecting something similar, but quicker in comparison. Boy, was I in for a shock.
We spent a couple of laps becoming familiar with the car before pushing on a little harder. The first thing you notice is how direct the steering is – a minor input will pull the front end through a corner with absolute ease.
At the lower part of the rev band it feels as though it pulls harder than the GT R Pro, but it wasn’t until we entered our flying lap that the differences began to surface.
From around 3000rpm onwards, the GT Black Series becomes another car. It genuinely feels like it has a set of rocket thrusters on it, and powering out of Siberia (turn six) toward the kink at turn seven as you roll on to full throttle, the pace it builds is absolutely mental.
The question about the sound immediately becomes irrelevant too because beyond 3000rpm you can barely hear yourself think let along have time to listen to the exhaust. The noise inside the cabin is full race car, it feels like there’s barely any insulation between the engine bay and the cabin as it fills with the glorious sound of that turbocharged V8.
It’s hard to get used to how quickly it builds pace as you stay stuck into the throttle. Typical to Phillip Island, there’s stacks of crosswind as you pass the control tower at north of 250km/h. The enormous wing generates up to 400kg of downforce that makes those cross winds (especially under braking) almost irrelevant.
It’s so composed as you slow to more than 100km/h for Doohan (turn one). I’m not a race driver, so there’s still so much latitude above what you would take this corner in a car without such a huge amount of downforce acting on it.
But where an average driver like me will notice it is in the double apex at the Southern Loop (turn two). The nose stays planted and direct at speeds you’d never be able to take in a regular road car. So much so that you can forcefully tuck it into the apex toward Stoner (turn three) with confidence.
I also can’t speak highly enough of the brakes. The deceleration into Honda (turn four) is one of the most important sections of Phillip Island. If you go in too hot you’ll mess up the exit, and if you go in too slowly you’ll lose all of your pace. As we spent more time with the car we were encouraged to leave our braking later and later.
We got to the point where we would pass the conservative braking marker for our run in the C63 S to start braking just beyond the 100 sign. At this point you’re carrying significant speed and need to slow down for a hairpin so there’s little room for error.
The straight line braking process is clean, crisp and has the harness digging into your shoulders as the car pulls up from break neck speeds.
As crazy as it sounds, it’s also hard to get the car to get out of shape. Measuring in at 335mm at the rear, the treads offer tremendous amounts of traction. You can confidently roll into the throttle out of a corner knowing that it won’t chew you up and spit you out. It’s genuinely a religious experience driving this car.
As I mentioned before, I’m not an expert driver. But this is the type of car that gives you an experience as close as you’ll get to a race car without needing to be in a race car. And how does it compare to the GT R Pro?
It doesn’t. They feel like completely different cars, this is just on another planet in terms of performance and handling.
The Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series is covered by Mercedes-Benz’s five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.
GT models are offered with a choice of three-, four- and five-year service plans, priced at $3750, $4300 and $5400, respectively.
Service intervals are 12 months or 20,000km, whichever comes first.
There are some days at the office that are better than others. This was well and truly one of those – what looked to be a disaster in terms of the weather ended up being an experience I’m unlikely to ever forget.
And before you ask, we spent the second day racing around Phillip Island in the Mercedes-AMG A45 S, which was a stack of fun too.
The rain also created the perfect environment for skid pan lunacy in the AMG C63 S.
But on the GT Black Series you’re unlikely to find any other car capable of achieving this level of performance that is also road-legal. The Porsche 911 GT2 RS is about as close as you’ll get and while it’s an incredible machine, it’s arguably even more road-focused than the GT Black Series.
Is it worth the money? That’s a tough one. It’s certainly one of the most capable road cars at the race track, but the value proposition is ultimately one that’s up to the buyer.
It’s hard to value a ‘1 of 28’ car that’s likely to be the last of its breed before the world moves to electrification. So from that point of view, it’s likely to be an asset in the years to come.
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