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AMG Black Series: Tune up a tuned up car

CNET Car Tech takes a drive in the 2008 Mercedes-Benz CLK63 AMG Black Series.

Click here to see photos of the 2008 CLK63 AMG Black Series. CNET Networks

Mercedes-Benz let us loose in its new CLK63 AMG Black Series this week for a drive around the Santa Cruz Mountains. The Black Series is a fantastic car to tackle winding roads with 500 horsepower, a very smart 7 speed automatic transmission, and handling that holds the road with a vise grip. AMG is the performance tuning branch of Mercedes-Benz, and it took the CLK-Class, a two-seater coupe, and dropped a big, 6.3-liter engine in it, then added AMG's SpeedShift technology to the transmission. But then someone decided to kick it up a notch and came up with the Black Series.

This new edition of the CLK63 AMG replaces various body and trim parts with carbon fiber, and removes the back seats. That's okay, nobody could fit back there anyway. It also gets a limited slip differential to improve the handling. The result is a car that goes to 60mph in 4.1 seconds. As we ripped up twisty mountain roads, we could feel that power as we tapped the gas in the corners. The thick steering wheel has a racing feel, with plenty of oversteer so you don't need to turn it much to negotiate the corners. And we know some people swear by manual transmissions, but the automatic in the Black Series properly downshifted before the turns, and held the gear as we accelerated out.

As Mercedes-Benz is celebrating the 40th anniversary of AMG, we also got to drive the E63 and the ML63. Click here to see our photos of the cars, including some historic models.