We gather here this evening to crown the Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series as the fastest production car to roar (and occasionally jump) its way around the Nürburgring’s Nordschleife (or North Loop) circuit. The lucky, very skilled bloke behind the wheel? Mercedes’ GT3 driver Maro Engel. The official time? 6:43.616.
That’s roughly 1.35 seconds faster than the previous champion, the Lamborghini Aventador SVJ (6:44.97), which stole the production car ‘Ring record from Porsche’s 911 GT2 RS (6:52.01) in July of 2018. The title is held by a German once more: specifically, the most brutish version of AMG’s two-seater grand tourer, the GT Black Series.
On paper, the GT Black Series is quite a different animal than the Lambo it dethrones. The AMG GT Black Series is front-engine, rear-wheel-drive. The SVJ is mid-engined, all-wheel-drive. The German boasts a twin-turbo V-8; the Italian, a naturally aspirated V-12. Mercedes-AMG will make as many GT Black Series as customers demand (for the 2021 model year only, that is); Lamborghini restricted SVJ production to 900 total units. That last factoid, in our minds, lends the GT Black Series a bit more gravitas; in theory, it’s more widely available—not to mention over $100K cheaper—than the SVJ.
The Black Series is distinguished from its lesser AMG GT R sibling not only by the whopping great wing on its rear, but by the engine under its hood. Unsurprisingly, that powerplant is a 4.0-liter, twin-turbo V-8. In the standard AMG GT R, it sports a cross-plane crankshaft, but the motor in the Black Series GT trades that for a flat-plane affair. Affalterbach’s brightest naturally installed new camshafts and exhaust manifolds, too. Thanks to bigger compressor wheels, peak pressure from the turbos increases from 19.6 to 24.6 psi. Total power figures for the AMG GT Black Series stand at 720 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque. Power is put to the road via a seven-speed dual-clutch transaxle that’s been tweaked to cope with the 143-hp upgrade over the AMG GT R.
Of course, there’s more nuance to a ‘Ring record than prodigious power output and a professional driver; you’ve got to account for suspension and aero settings, tires, and track conditions. To prep for the Green Hell, AMG engineers adjusted the Black Series’ camber to the most aggressive settings: -3.8 degrees in front and -3.0 degrees in the rear. The carbon-fiber front splitter was set to its lowest possible setting—”Race,” which is only intended for race tracks anyways. No change was needed for the Black Series’ rubber, though; Engel used the Pilot Sport Cup 2 R thoughtfully co-developed by Mercedes and Michelin especially for the top dog in the AMG GT lineup. Even with all the mechanical wizardry tuned to his wishes, however, Engel had to wrestle with a relatively cool track temperature of 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
“It’s really impressive how much downforce the Black Series generates and how confident and reliably it can be driven, even at the absolute limit,” says Engel. “My hat is off to the developers from Affalterbach for what they have put on wheels here.”
Our hats are off, too—and we include Engel in that salute.