- The Washington Times - Friday, September 21, 2007

To say “a certain car does everything well” is often an overstatement. The goal of many auto aficionados is to build a car that is a better performer than one that can be purchased off the showroom floor. Occasionally, a car comes along for the very serious enthusiast that performs out of the ordinary right from the factory. The 2007 Mercedes-Benz CLK63 AMG Black Series is one of these.

To own a Mercedes-Benz is usually enough for most drivers. Add the AMG designation and you have a car with above average handling abilities and more power than most require. Now, with the addition of the Black Series badge, the performance “cat is out of the bag”. The Black Series line has more power and less weight than regular AMG products and satisfies the most discriminating auto fanatics.

The CLK63 is the first Black Series offered in the United States by Mercedes-Benz and may be a sampling of things to come from the high performance department of this German auto maker. The only other Black Series model, the SLK55 was previously offered for sale only in Europe.

Essentially, the CLK63 AMG Black Series is the mid-size CLK coupe modified to an extent that as one passes by, you need to look closely to notice the similarities. The extreme flared fenders visually change the body characteristics and are the tip-off that something special is going on behind this disguise. Upon closer inspection, a clue to the differences is the extensive use of carbon fiber. Looking at each side of the front bumper, located just ahead of the front wheels, are fresh air scoops in basic carbon fiber finish. These air ducts direct the flow for the transmission and oil coolers.

The rear-deck-mounted spoiler is a thin line of natural carbon fiber — formed specifically to create the required down force necessary to keep this missile firmly planted on the ground. The rear quad exhaust tips are separated by carbon composite material complete with vertical diffusers to further help with air management. In fact, this CLK coupe is almost exactly like the Formula 1 Safety Car (pace car) seen leading the pack at the races.

A 6.2 liter, 507 horsepower hand-built and individually signed engine is the basis for the power. With 465 pound feet of torque, this V-8 rear wheel drive car has impressive low-end pick-up as well as top speeds that should only be used at the race track. All this energy is routed through a Speedshift 7G-Tronic automatic transmission with computer electronics that have been modified by the AMG team for quicker shifts. Seldom has a seven-speed automatic transmission been put to such a high performance test and come through with flying colors. Steering wheel paddles allow for precise gear changes — the right side paddle is for up shifts, the left for down shifts.

Any real performance car has serious braking provisions, including this Black Series. The 14.4-inch front composite discs and 13.3-inch rear discs are internally vented for maximum stopping.

Six piston calibers on the front and four piston calibers for the rear make sure the brake pads clamp the rotors firmly under the most demanding braking conditions. No brake fade here, even after repeated attempts to bring this rocket to rest.

Creature comforts were not forgotten even with this performance car wrapped all around. Automatic climate control, an excellent stereo system with Bose speakers and a navigation system all are standard equipment. In fact, there are no options for the Black Series. The front bucket seats are great examples of what good support is like.

With weight considerations a major concern, there is no back seat, only two scooped out areas good for grocery bags and other light temporary storage.

Huge 19-inch polished forged wheels are shod with 285/30 rear tires and 265/30R size tires on the front. With world wide production planned for only 700 units, make sure you get in line early as only about 350 of the CLK63 AMG Black Series cars are slated for the U.S.

The suggested price is $136,000, which would not quite get you a custom built 1932 roadster street rod made to your specifications.

All of the high performance goodies and creature comforts of this new Mercedes-Benz have made a track car into a street-legal example of what the ultimate hot rod can be.

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