Les Puids, France — Speed and power are ethereal concepts best experienced rather than contemplated. Bringing them to life involves not only mastering the physical sciences, but also a bit of magic. More specifically in the case of a 661-bhp SL from Mercedes' AMG unit, black magic.There was a fair amount of prestidigitation on our part that transported us to Ma du Clos, a private track in the south of France on a sun-dappled early autumn day to drive the mighty 2009 SL65 AMG Black Series. We had seen the car privately last spring and noticed its presence at the Quail during August's Monterey weekend. Persistence paid off when we were invited to join Volker Mornhinweg, AMG's chairman, and Tobias Moers, director of vehicle development, for the final executive sign-off drive for the Euro-spec version of this 2-seat beast.At first glance, the new Black Series appears to be a standard SL65 AMG, an aggressively styled car in its own right. But closer inspection reveals a car that is more menacing, with shoulders and hind fenders that look like they were lifted from Mercedes' 1997 CLK-GTR race car. Up front, the air scoops are bigger and deeper. The side vents just aft of the front wheels aid engine cooling. In back, a retractable spoiler extends to improve rear grip when the car exceeds 75 mph. Compared with the standard SL65 AMG, the Black Series sits about 0.5 in. lower. It's also wider at the front and rear by 3.8 in. and 3.3 in., respectively.Despite having a similar overall profile to a standard SL, every body panel on the Black Series is modified. Generous use of carbon-fiber composites (CFRP) shaved about 550 lb. off its curb weight compared to a standard SL65 AMG. The front clip, hood, roof and retractable rear spoiler are all CFRP. The doors are magnesium and aluminum, while the rear fenders retain traditional steel construction. The CFRP roof incorporates a roll-over bar that allows for a flatter roofline. And because the top is fixed, the rear window is bigger and more upright for better outward vision.Climb aboard and strap into the driver's seat. Everything inside means business. The interior is furnished in Napa leather and Alcantara, with carbon-fiber trim. All in black. The 360-km/h speedometer and the 8000-rpm tach (with 6250 redline and LED shift lights) are front and center in the instrument cluster, also in black with white lettering. The only hints of Mercedes' luxury are the climate control and audio system. The carbon-fiber AMG sport bucket seats are comfortable, and provide a snug fit and plenty of lateral support for hard cornering. Unfortunately, the U.S.-bound Black Series will be equipped with standard side airbag-equipped AMG seats due to safety regulations.Continue Reading >>>>>>