Hyper Focus: The First Test of the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series

Maintaining focus on the goal at the detriment of all else.

In the automobile industry, it’s a well-worn axiom that it’s better for a car to be a chef’s knife than a multitool, to excel in a single area rather than be adequate in several. A seasoned player triumphs over a newcomer. This specific sentiment is rarely, if ever, debated, which is why it is a chestnut. The majority of automotive enthusiasts appear to take it as a given. It’s a religion. For me, a Caterham 7 is the perfect example of a distinct, well-defined instrument. It was built for speed. Everything else, including comfort, practicality, safety, and your skin’s well-being, is irrelevant. The Rivian R1T, a luxury vehicle with 835 horsepower, a 3.1-second zero-to-60 speed, off-road prowess, and built-in stove!—is also a favorite of mine. The Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series, a vehicle created only for the purpose of breaking the Nürburgring Nordschleife production car lap record, has been unveiled.

In fact, with a time of 6:43.62, AMG broke Lamborghini Aventador SVJ’s 6:44.97 record run in the GT3 Cup race. Impressive, especially when you consider that the AMG GT R Pro’s ‘Ring performance has improved by a huge 21 seconds thanks to the GT Black Series. That’s tremendous, in the words of a certain hotel heiress. Mercedes-AMG deserves a pat on the back for attaining such a lofty aim. It’s worth noting that the Manthey Performance Kit-tuned Porsche 911 GT2 RS is available as an aftermarket option.) There is no factory Porsche GT2 RS that can match the Manthey car’s 6:43.30 lap time. Additionally, the GT Black Series is important because Tobias Moers, the previous CEO of AMG and now Aston Martin, signed off on it. What a way to leave the world.)

On the world’s best racetrack, what distinguishes the newest Black Series from previous models? A detailed description of all the reasons may be found in MacKenzie’s first drive review, which he wrote in 2012. It goes into all the nit and grit. The GT BS gets a turbocharged version of AMG’s 4.0-liter, twin-turbo V-8 from a thousand feet away. Flat-plane crank, revised camshafts, and a modified exhaust system allow the M178 LS2 to produce 720 horsepower between 6,700 and 6,900 rpm and 590 lb-ft of torque between 2,000 and 6,000 rpm. Reread the numbers to be sure you got them right. Considering that the GT R’s version of this engine produces just 577 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque, this is truly mind-boggling. Aesthetically, the wing does indeed have a wing, and underfoot are Michelin Pilot Sport 2 R tires, which are nothing short of amazing. Even the transmission mounting points are wrapped in a 328-foot-long carbon fiber thread to save 3.4 ounces. The Nürburgring results speak for themselves, even if I’m not sure what I just typed.

 

What Happens At The MotorTrend Test Track, Anyway?

Our test crew put the GT Black Series through its paces, and some of the findings were historic. Fortunately, you inquired. Begin with the rate at which things are moving forward. They’re not groundbreaking, but for a rear-drive car, these are some impressive times. In comparison to the GT R, which weighs 3,680-pounds, the GT BS weighs 3,655 pounds and accelerates from zero to 60 in 2.9 seconds before completing the quarter-mile in 10.6 seconds at 136.1 mph. While certain rear-wheel-drive cars have performed better, they are few and far between. In terms of the GT Black Series’ genuine competition, the majority of them are able to reach a higher top speed. It takes the Ferrari F8 Tributo’s 711 hp and 3,398 pound weight to 60 mph, but it’s quicker to 139.3 mph in the quarter-mile, where it runs 10.3 seconds faster than the Mercedes. This is hardly the only example.

 

In comparison, the 3,390-pound Lamborghini Huracán STO, also powered by a naturally aspirated V-12 and rear-wheel drive, accelerates to 60 mph in 2.8 seconds with 90 less horsepower and 153 less lb-ft of torque. The Porsche GT2 RS, which is no longer in production but is still relevant, is faster to 60 mph (2.6 seconds) and covers the quarter-mile in 10.3 seconds at 139.3 mph. Blimey. Is the McLaren 720S something you’ve heard of? There’s no better way to get to 60mph in 2.5 seconds than with this carbon-fiber, 711-hp, 3,167-pound rocket. It flies around the quarter mile in only 10.1 seconds at 141.5mph, defeating even the 755-hp 765LT’s 2.78-second time. That not only bullies the GT Black Series, but also tops the 765LT by 0.1 second. Despite its 3,093-pound weight, the 765LT’s trap speed of 144.5 mph suggests that the vehicle’s traction is constrained at launch. What about the large (3,902-pound), terrible (760-hp), AWD Aventador SVJ that the AMG snatched the ‘Ring record from? There is a quarter-mile time of 10.3 seconds and a top speed of 136.4mph. You can see easily the AMG is not the quickest.

 

It also doesn’t have the best brakes, but it’s close. Both the 991.2 Porsche GT2 RS and the Dodge Viper ACR hold the record for the shortest stop we’ve ever recorded from 60 mph, at 87 feet.. The GT Black slams into a 93-foot stop from 60 mph, tying the 720S and surpassing every other car on the list save the Porsche. From 60 mph, the Ferrari needs an impressively excellent 98 feet to stop. A car is only as good as its brakes, according to another automotive cliché. It’s worth pondering.

 

The AMG GT Black Series definitely shines when it comes to handling. Figure-eight timing of 21.9 seconds put the ‘Ring champ in three-way tie with the aforementioned Porsche GT2 RS and million-dollar McLaren Senna for all-time first position on the track. There is only one automobile that can match this car’s max grip of 1.17 g: that dreadful Porsche. They’re tied.

 

Those are the data points that assist explain why this extreme Mercedes defeated every other production automobile ever made around the Nordschleife. I had supper with Tobias Moers just before I wrote this tale, and he shared two intriguing tidbits with me. One possibility is that Aston Martin will use this engine in a future mid-engine model, most likely the Vanquish. In addition, he admits that the GT Black Series is a one-trick pony, even to him.

 

Respected and Approved.

Exactly what’s going on here is what’s important. We admire this vehicle, but no one on our team is in love with it. My personal favorite corner of a track was a high-speed bend in the GT Black, where I was able to approach it at 120mph or so, 15mph quicker than I had ever attempted in any other vehicle. On the street, however, is it the same? Or perhaps on the winding path across the canyon? It didn’t go so well.

 

What’s the issue with using public transportation? My hypothesis is that racetracks, where the AMG is at its best, are quite broad in comparison to street driving. The ‘Ring is about 40 feet wide at its narrowest point. Is this a public street in California? On the motorway, a single lane is 12 feet wide; in the mountains, it’s even narrower. The AMG may not be able to properly operate in these cramped conditions. It needs more room to move about in.. However, it was never the goal to be the best or even the best street vehicle. It’s all about beating the mighty Lamborghini at Nurburgring. That’s all there is to it.

 

We did go to a track with the Black Series, but it was the wrong track, as it turned out. The Big Willow, a nine-turn, expert-level (read: deadly) track, and the Streets of Willow, a much smaller, slower, and safer circuit, are both available in Willow Springs. While on Streets, the poor AMG was constantly forced into slow, first- or even second-gear turns. The polar opposite of the speedy Nürburgring. At the conclusion of the straight on the Streets of Willow, the AMG clocked around 130 mph. There are at least four places on the ‘Ring where the Black Series could easily hit speeds of above 150 mph and remain there for extended periods of time. A junior-varsity track just isn’t the right setting for a monster like this. Then there’s the cost, which isn’t exactly inexpensive. The starting price is $327,050, but selfish dealers are charging—and getting—$300,000 more than the advertised price. I’m not joking around.

 

That leaves the 2021 AMG GT Black Series in a quandary. A car that is fastest around the world’s most prestigious racetrack is hard to beat for bragging rights. Congratulations, AMG, on a job well done. For the wealthy car-collectors who shelled out thousands of dollars to get their hands on one of the only 1,700 of these cars to be made, it’s evident that they consider this vehicle as an investment. And they may be right. Is that true for you? There is too much emphasis on the car’s specificity. It’s like the Toyota Prius sacrifices practically every other quality on the altar of efficiency; the GT Black Series is simply too extreme. An AMG that can do it all would make my life a lot easier. As a result, I’ve been advocating the AMG GT C to anyone who’ll listen for the past few years. There are moments when too much is just too much.