Compromise is an unavoidable fact of life. What looks fantastic on paper is often subjected to series of revisions that can all but emasculate a once-great idea.
I get the feeling the suits at Mercedes were all on vacation when the Black Series first rolled from the assembly line. Here was a car so unlike anything before it; it was difficult to imagine it came from Mercedes’ AMG division. The CLK63 Black Series has no comprehension of term compromise. You figure this out the moment the 6.2-liter V8 barks to life and your entire body begins to vibrate. The sensation borders on erotic. Should you ever see a Black Series just idling, take a look at the driver. Chances are he (or she) is all sweaty and flush.
The Evosport Mercedes CLK63 Back Series was a study in sensory overload. It has a purity that’s becoming all too scarce these days.
A limited production vehicle from Mercedes-Benz AMG division of which only 350 examples were imported into the U.S., its 6.2-liter V8 generates 500 hp. No rear seats are made available so as to maintain the lightweight characteristics of a true sports car. This is the Porsche GT3 of Mercedes-Benz and it is as lethal on the street as it is on the track.
The Evosport CLK is fast enough to open a wormhole, with brakes strong enough to pull the polio vaccine out of your body. And its cabin was first class, a fine mix of sporting luxury. That it lacks a rear set is a non-issue. This is a car you want to be alone with.
But what really intrigues the senses is how quickly this vehicle changes from a well-heeled coupe to hellhound. Its low-pitched exhaust burble instantaneously erupts into something so dynamic it causes rocks to tumble from the canyon walls. If the Greek gods had a deity for horsepower, this is what he’d sound like.
In stock trim, the CLK63 is no slouch. Packing 500 hp and 469 lb-ft of torque, it’s capable of eclipsing 60 mph in 4.1 seconds. Quarter mile times are in the high 11s with 121 mph trap speeds. Given North America’s propensity for the stoplight grand prix, you’d think Mercedes designed this car with North America in mind.
Evosport essentially amplified the goodness already there, replacing the lion’s share of the intake and exhaust plumbing with parts from its shop. Evosport’s long-tube stainless steel race headers (tri-Y configuration) and its 3-inch performance exhaust (with cross pipe) and an Evosport intake system ensure the engine is well ventilated. The headers are ceramic coated and the entire system offers significant weight savings over stock. Evosport also fitted its fully dampened underdrive crankshaft pulley. The lightweight design dramatically reduces rotating mass and uses continuously variable active damping technology for optimal smoothness throughout the rev range. Wrought from T-6061 aluminum, it functions with the OEM serpentine belt and a modified crankshaft bolt. All the internal engine bits were polished, ported and balanced to perfection with an upgraded Evosport oil cooler to keep temps in check.
Evosport’s ECU was used to optimize the new hardware’s performance. The program removes top-speed limiter and improves throttle response and ignition timing. The Evo ECU can also toggle between 91 and 93 octane fuel programs, which can be fun for the odd track session. The Evosport CLK63 spun the dyno wheel to an impressive 630 hp and 589 lb-ft of twist. And it’s power that is available right now—no waiting for turbos or superchargers to spool up, no NO2 bottles to fill.
While few would argue the aesthetic value of AMG’s factory wheels, it is difficult to imagine the car without its current running gear. The car now wears a set of stunning HRE CF43 wheels measuring 10x19 in front and 11x19 out back. These carbon composite rims are hand assembled and are one of the few wheels that successfully combine high strength with lightness. They’ve been shod with steamroller-like Pirelli Corsa DOT-R rubber measuring 285/30 and 305/30 front and rear, respectively (stock runs 235/40-18 fronts and 255/35-18s out back).
Evosport also upgraded the binders with its two-piece floating rotors (cross-drilled and slotted) and replaced the rubber brake lines with braided stainless steel. Evosport’s titanium shims work with an aggressive performance street brake pad. Never one to skimp on brakes, the original AMG system responded to the Evosport mods very well. I hammered them until they glowed a dull maroon. Finding the limits on these binders would require a lot of time and a maniac at the helm.
Evosport cooked up its own track package suspension based on H&R components and Evosport’s adjustable rear billet control arms. The chassis appears to hover just off the ground, sorta like Luke Skywalker’s land speeder. Despite the extremely tucked look of the HRE wheels, there was no rubbing or other nasty effects. Perhaps my only concern would be the lower deck of the front splitter. Fortunately, it’s modular and easily replaceable.
Although the car is clad in handsome factory aerodynamics, Evosport enlisted the services of Vorsteiner for a bit more aggression. The front end was fitted with Vorsteiner’s pronounced carbon-fiber splitter that blends into a carbon-fiber hood. It also includes Vorsteiner’s rear carbon bumper/diffuser and its rear decklid spoiler. The roof is carbon fiber as well
As this car is equipped with Mercedes’ excellent seven-speed automatic, you’ve got to wonder why anyone would want a double-clutch transmission. The Black Series held its gears like a manual trans and gave me complete chassis control. Most of my driving was in second and third gears—at any given moment I had the power to spin the rear tires and induce oversteer. You’ve gotta love a naturally aspirated V8—there really is no substitute for displacement.
For sheer, unadulterated high-performance joy, the Evosport CLK63 Black Series is a benchmark vehicle. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a car this good. It’s a foregone conclusion fellow tuners will have this car in their sights.
Good luck; you’ll need it.
Evosport CLK63 AMG Black Series
Longitudinal front engine rear-wheel drive
6.2-liter V8, dohc, 32-valve. Evosport Power Pulley, race headers and exhaust, Stage II intake, phenolic spacer kit, Evo2 ECU
H&R coilovers and adjustable antiroll bars
Evosport lightweight two-piece rotors (f/r), Evosport stainless steel lines, Evosport titanium brake shims, performance pads
Wheels and Tires
HRE CF43, 10x19 (f), 11x19 (r)
Pirelli Corsa DOT-R, 285/30 (f), 305/30 (r)
Evosport Exterior Matte Carbon Aero Package (Evosport/VST front carbon-fiber splitter, Evosport/VST rear carbon-fiber decklid spoiler, Evosport carbon hood), Evosport/VST matte carbon roof, matte carbon exterior mirrors, matte carbon front bumper louvers, matte carbon-fiber rear diffuser, Evosport bumper reflectors color-matched to exterior, Evosport Blacked-Out Exterior Package, front end paint protection
Evosport Interior Alcantara Design Package (Includes seat inserts, F/R door inserts, center armrest, headliner), Evosport Interior Carbon Package (carbon-fiber dash/door package, carbon-fiber/leather steering wheel, carbon-fiber rear console/battery cover, carbon-fiber door handles, carbon-fiber gear shifter paddles), five-point safety harnesses, seat shells painted to match exterior), custom-mounted Escort 9500ci radar system
Peak Power: 630 hp @ 6950 rpm
Peak Torque: 589 lb-ft @ 4900 rpm