Daze of thun­der

Gull­wing tears up the Phillip Is­land track at Su­per­car pace

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige - CRAIG DUFF craig.duff@cars­guide.com.au

THE SLS Black Se­ries launches down the main straight of Phillip Is­land. The vis­ceral

‘‘ braa-aap’’ from the ex­haust ac­com­pa­nies the breath­tak­ing clockwise progress of the speedo and tacho nee­dles.

As we hit turn one with a dis­tinct lack of poise, the Gull­wing racer shows it isn’t so much a car as a dance part­ner.

It en­gages the senses like a Ja­panese cour­te­san and has the in­tel­lect to match. Power and sus­pen­sion in­puts can be ad­justed and there is the op­tion of loos­en­ing (or dis­abling) the trac­tion con­trol. This car— a left-hand-drive ex­am­ple fresh from Europe be­fore July de­liv­er­ies of the first Aus­tralian cars— takes to the Phillip Is­land race­track with ease. The as­sem­bled jour­nal­ists and even the ‘‘ I’d-bet­ter-be-get­ting-abonus-for-this’’ pro­fes­sional rac­ers strapped in as over­see­ing pas­sen­gers can barely pre­tend to be as com­posed.

It han­dles all in­puts— and the in­ter­play be­tween them— in a way the reg­u­larAMGSLS only be­gins to ap­proach. Throt­tle, steer­ing and brake re­sponses are all quicker, tauter, more di­rect.

The car is also built to flat­ter. It sits low and wide but de­fines the evo­lu­tion of mod­ern su­per­cars by be­ing fast and for­giv­ing. How fast?

Mercedes-Benz Aus­tralia chief driv­ing in­struc­tor Peter Hack­ett takes the 464kW/ 635Nm car out for a shake­down run be­tween groups and clocks a lap time barely eight sec­onds slower than Craig Lown­des’s record in a V8 Su­per­car of 1min33.27sec.

Mercedes Aus­tralia re­fuses to con­firm the time but notes the SLS Black Se­ries is among the quick­est AMG-badged ve­hi­cles to roll around the is­land.

It is a stripped-down, firedup Gull­wing that, even in ama­teur hands, hus­tles its way around the re­cently resur­faced 4.45km bi­tu­men rib­bon with all the bru­tal, repet­i­tive ef­fi­ciency of a race car. Which, fun­nily enough, is what the ul­ti­mate ex­pres­sion of the SLS line-up is, at least in street-le­gal guise.

It is also more than $150,000 more ex­pen­sive than the SLS Road­ster at $639,0000, which ex­plains why only nine will make it to Aus­tralia, with an­other one des­tined for New Zealand. Of those 10, eight al­ready have own­ers.

The cars run on Miche­lin rub­ber specif­i­cally devel­oped for the Black Se­ries on track days. This is a fair in­di­ca­tion of whereAMG­ex­pects own­ers to spend most of their time— ex­plor­ing the po­ten­tial of a car built for the che­quered flag that can be driven home from the cir­cuit in com­fort.

AMGprod­uct devel­op­ment head To­bias Mo­ers notes of the Black Se­ries range: ‘‘ The fo­cus is al­ways for race­track per­for­mance.’’

You just hope those who buy the SLS Black Se­ries fol­low that lead.

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