Special Editions. Sometimes they really are special, whilst at other times it’s just a way of freshening up a familiar model which needs something of a sales boost. Few would question its effectiveness when selling a few extra super-minis or roadsters during the summer months, but there’s been a growing tendency lately to follow the special edition route with performance cars.

It was Mercedes back in 2006 that initially kicked off the (Black) trend with its SLK55 AMG Black Series – a more focused and sporting variant of the SLK55 AMG with stiffer suspension and less weight, courtesy of a carbon fibre roof panel which replaced the standard car’s folding roof. Then they brought us the CLK63 AMG Black Series, SL65 AMG Black Series and more recently the C63 AMG Coupé Black Series. All are lighter, faster and more focused driving tools where the Black Series label is clearly used to convey their uncompromising nature.

Whilst Mercedes seem to have defined the genre, you may be surprised to realise just how many special ‘Black’ editions have now been launched by other car makers. I certainly was.

No doubt I’ve missed a few, but these are the ones which caught my attention. By all means post any others in the comments below.

1. Mercedes AMG Black Series

AMG Black Series models


Is it black?

Is it hotter?

AMG Black Series

Not really

Most certainly

2. BMW M3 Frozen “Black Edition”

M3 Frozen Black Edition


Is it black?

Is it hotter?

M3 Frozen Black Edition


Slightly. Includes M3 Competition Package

3. Audi Black Editions

Audi Black Editions


Is it black?

Is it hotter?

Audi Black Editions (A3, A4, A5 & TT)

Black styling pack, but available in a range of colours

No. Just a style make-over which does not include RS models

3. Porsche Black Editions

Porsche Black Editions


Is it black?

Is it hotter?

Boxster S Black Edition

Available in any colour you want as long as its black

10 bhp more than a Boxster S

Cayman S Black Edition

Only in black

Comes with an extra 10 bhp

911 Carrera Black Edition

It’s black too

Afraid not. This is a style rather than performance edition

4. Nissan Black Editions

Nissan Black Editions


Is it black?

Is it hotter?

GT-R 3.8 V6 Black Edition

I’ll give you 2 guesses..

No, just unique seats, interior colors and wheels

370Z Black Edition

Choice of black or quartz light black metallic paint

Purely cosmetic

5. Mazda Black Limited Editions

Mazda Black Editions


Is it black?

Is it hotter?

MX-5 Sport Black

Green is the new black

Nothing particularly sporty going on here..

Mazda 2 Black

Only if you’re colour-blind

There are ‘Black Edition’ badges, what more do you want?

So, what did we learn..?

Well it looks like Mercedes have grasped the essential irony of the Black Edition philosophy – which involves looking ‘almost’ like a standard model but carrying a much bigger stick. Whilst it may not be necessary for a Black Edition model to also wear black paint, green, red or anything else glittery is clearly missing the point somewhat.

Recent advances in paint technology are making matt black finishes more commonplace, however based on the examples thus far, most car makers will choose to either upgrade a standard model’s performance or add a stealthy design – but rarely both.

Cars such as Ford’s latest RS500 bucked that trend, but most car makers seem to be using the ‘Black’ label on their cars in much the same way as the Fashion world uses the little black dress – those stylishly simple dark tones show off curves like nothing else.

Despite my initial concerns that Black Edition models were becoming rather commonplace, there thankfully remains at least one car maker who continues to define the type. When it comes to special edition ‘Black’ models it’s still a case of “AMG.. there is no substitute.”