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Merc’s new race car for the road

The new Black is orange. Though Magma Beam is the official name for the paint worn by the Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series parked in the pit lane, the colour is a very tangy shade of citrus.It’s an eye-catching colour for an attention-grabbing car. The bodywork of the Black Series isn’t like other Mercedes-AMG GTs. It…

The new Black is orange. Though Magma Beam is the official name for the paint worn by the Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series parked in the pit lane, the colour is a very tangy shade of citrus.

It’s an eye-catching colour for an attention-grabbing car. The bodywork of the Black Series isn’t like other Mercedes-AMG GTs. It wears a massive multi-wing spoiler, a rear diffuser and a front splitter, all in carbon fibre, plus louvres, vents and other airflow management devices.

Though road legal, it looks a lot like a race car … and it drives like one, too.

Strapped firmly by a four-point harness into the Black Series’ body-hugging carbon-fibre driver’s seat, it’s time to explore the EuroSpeedway Lausitz racetrack in northeast Germany. Our guide is legendary German racer Bernd Schneider, who helpfully provides some advice on the best car set-up options to choose for this bumpy-in-places circuit.

Following Schneider — okay, striving to almost keep up with him — is a very speedy way to get acquainted with the GT Black Series.

This rear-drive two-seater has a monster beneath its long bonnet. The twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 is the most powerful production engine Mercedes-AMG has made, its 537kW power maximum delivered just below 7000rpm.

It doesn’t sound the same as AMG’s other 4.0-litre engines, which like most V8s have a cross-plane crankshaft. The Black instead has a power-boosting flat-plane crank, the layout often favoured by Ferrari.

The new crank means the sound from the Black Series’ quartet of tailpipes is flatter and raspier than other AMG V8s, but what it lacks in music it makes up for with muscle. Despite the car’s massive tyres, the engine often has more grunt than they have grip.

This makes the car sound like it’s difficult to drive quickly, but it’s not. The steering gives a great sense of connection, while the slick-shifting seven-speed transmission, capable suspension and powerful brakes quickly create confidence.

Don’t imagine, though, that whipping the GT Black Series around a track isn’t dramatic. Mercedes-AMG’s engineers were chasing speed, not comfort. There’s not a lot of sound insulation, so the noises of the car’s hard-working mechanicals are not much muffled. And on the bumpy sections of the Lausitzring the Black Series bucks and squirms.

But the Mercedes-AMG is most racer-like at high speeds. At the German track it’s hitting well over 200km/h on the straight. The extensive aerodynamic alterations really work. The GT Black Series feels like it’s glued to the ground because, in a sense, it is.

The aero-additions create substantial downforce. Both the upper and lower wings of the rear spoiler can be manually adjusted to increase or reduce downforce, and the front splitter can be easily switched without tools between road and track settings.

There’s a lot for the owner of the GT Black Series to play with, but this car is a very expensive toy. It is likely to wear a price tag a little below $800,000 when it arrives in Australia around May next year. This means the Black Series will cost more than double the R model, until now the top dog in the Mercedes-AMG GT line-up.

Even so, the entire GT Black Series allocation for Australia is already spoken for.

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