TANGERINE SCREAM
evo India|March 2021
As the first of AMG’s GT Black Series lands on Indian shores, we hit a near-freezing track for one wild ride
ADAM TOWLER
THE AMG GT BLACK SERIES IS HUNGRY. Not just peckish, but full-on, stomach-churningly, dementedly ravenous. It sits idling in the cold air on the broad expanse of the West Circuit pitlane at Bedford Autodrome, a hint of agitation to its note but surprisingly reserved as it ticks over, while its giant mouth, now even bigger than that of the GT R and GT R Pro models and inspired by the GT3-spec racer, demands to be fed. Air, or a 991.2 GT2 RS for brunch, perhaps? Me, as a tough and tasteless hors d’oeuvres? Glistening Armco with a sodden grass just for high tea, given the weather conditions today? I hardly dare contemplate that particular scenario, nor the fact that the Black costs a small fortune.

This superhero AMG is the nastiest-looking, most amusingly caricature-like supercar this side of a firstgen Dodge Viper GTS. Its rear wing is as tall as the roof, always the sign of a real troublemaker – see Audi S1 E2, Porsche 935 (the original one) and plenty of others – and when you stand head-on to the front number plate the Black’s footprint and dimensions are wickedly extravagant, verging on the surreal. There’s just… So. Much. Car.

Having said that, there’s one element missing: it simply doesn’t sound like the devil’s chariot, and if you’ve done your homework you’ll already know that the reason for this is what makes this car especially interesting.

It’s known as the LS2, and while maybe the Detroit reference is German humour to throw spies off the scent during the development of this M178 derivative, it’s far from a classic pushrod bent-eight. Consider it a thorough reinvention of the ubiquitous ‘hot-vee’ V8, switching from a cross-plane crankshaft to a flat-plane one, so out goes the traditional rumble and in comes the higher-pitched, harder timbre of a duophonic fourcylinder with added range and bite. Ever heard an AJP8-engined TVR Cerbera blast into the distance? It’s a bit like that.

For this final and ultimate AMG GT, the engineers wanted more power. ‘Don’t they always,’ you might say, and power is hardly something the M178 has been known for lacking in the past. But to hit a 700bhpplus target they needed to run serious levels of boost – 1.7 bar, as it turns out – and the objective was revs: that hard-edged, aggressive top end that would allow the GT to stand nose-canard-to-nose-canard with the Longtail McLarens, Special Series Ferraris and forcefed GT department Porsches of this world.

The subsequently improved gas flow and the lighter crank assembly contribute to an engine that lacks the smoothness and sometimes the low-down torque of a rumbly, cross-plane V8, but one that typically has a greater appetite for revs. It’s a bold project from Affalterbach, especially for just this one car, although one can’t help but wonder whether a few crates might make their way to Gaydon in due course, particularly given the new man at the top at Aston Martin…

You won’t be surprised to hear that much of the engine’s hardware has been redesigned. The turbochargers themselves are bigger, with the low-friction bearings used on the mighty GT63 S four-door also used here, while there are bigger intercoolers and completely new exhaust manifolds and camshafts. The result? 720bhp from 6700 to 6900rpm, and 800Nm from just 2000rpm all the way to 6000rpm.

The Black Series is a lot more than just its engine, however. The 577bhp GT R is a terrific thing: a driver-focused supercar with its own individual appeal; far, far more of a car than the regular AMG GT. The GT R Pro took that evolution a stage further, adding a GT3 RS-threatening trackday vibe and scooping 2nd overall in the 2019 edition of eCoty. It was a big car with a massive heart, but also one that communicated clearly: sometimes that was to say ‘watch yourself mate’, but such correspondence between man and machine made it far less intimidating on the limit than anything with its looks has any right to be. But the Black doesn’t even attract the GT R moniker: it’s simply GT Black Series. A model apart. How very mysterious. How very ‘skunkworks’.

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