Model: CLK 63 Black Series
"You automotive journalists are only concerned with numbers," barked Geoff Day, when he was asked how fast the new Mercedes-Benz CLK63 AMG Black Series is. "It's not about the zero-to-sixty numbers--it's about the experience!"
Day, Mercedes-Benz USA's director of communications, was right, but his statement was ironic, because AMG models tend to be more about numbers than anything else. Their hallmarks are incomprehensible acceleration, astronomical prices, and, frequently, way too much power for their own good. So unless AMG had come up with a chassis that could match wits with the muscle of its 6.2-liter V-8, the CLK63 Black Series would be the latest victim in the German horsepower war--another machine that generated incredible numbers but not much passion in drivers.
On the racetrack, where most street cars lose their composure, the Black Series is even more impressive. Its body control is astonishing--this CLK turns in immediately, with zero body roll. Under light throttle, it takes a set in a perfectly controllable four-wheel drift. Any application or withdrawal of throttle helps rotate the rear--understeer is a word that's not in this coupe's vocabulary.
The Black Series' front suspension uses a coil-over-shock setup that isn't shared with any other CLK, and its control arms, bushings, and oversize hubs are unique as well. In back, beefed-up half shafts are connected to a limited-slip differential that--get this--has its own radiator and cooling fan.
Jaw-dropping sideways action takes only a slight prod of the right foot, and even though the ESP light flashes, the system does nothing to rain on the sideways parade. In manual mode, the seven-speed automatic is obedient, holding the gear of choice.
The CLK weighs close to 4000 pounds, but it's as if the engineers forgot to notify the brakes, which refuse to overheat or fade. The 14.2-inch front and 13.0-inch rear rotors transfer their stopping power to competition-rated Pirelli PZero Corsa tires mounted on nineteen-inch forged aluminum AMG wheels. In return for their comically short life, the tires generate laugh-inducing levels of grip.
If the CLK63's cornering speeds don't get your attention, its styling will. Enlarged front openings feed air to a larger radiator and a second transmission cooler. Massively flared fenders are flanked in front by carbon-fiber splitters and cooling vents. A tasteful carbon-fiber rear spoiler punctuates the trunk lid, and the differential cooler and the quad exhaust pipes are housed in a large rear diffuser.