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Mercedes 190 E 2.3-16 and 2.5-16: problems, prices, information

Frank Herzog
Mercedes 190 E 2.3-16 and 2.5-16 (W 201)
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The Mercedes-Benz 190 E 16-valve, the sportiest M ercedes since the Pagoda and the 300 SEL 6.3 suddenly made it clear to everyone what reserves the Baby Benz had. The 190 E 2.3-16 dominated the slopes, later the displacement was increased to 2.5 liters. Arch-rival BMW, disturbed, followed suit with the M3.

Extroverted Mercedes for a strong performance

Today, the generation of around 40-year-olds has the surviving sixteen-valve engines from the Baby Benz firmly under control. Around 1,000 Mercedes 190 E 16-valve units are still officially listed in Germany by the Federal Motor Transport Authority. Technology enthusiasts and driving enthusiasts like Christoph Rieger from the 2.3-16 Club hold up the flag of these fascinating four-door sports cars, for which there was no direct predecessor or successor.

Frank Herzog
There are 16V motors with more than 300,000 kilometers.

The prejudice that the Mercedes 190 E sixteen-valve engines with the Cosworth head are not stable is refuted by specimens that have covered over 300,000 kilometers with the first machine and are still running without problems. There is probably the most unusual and spectacular model of the eighties program from Bremen and Sindelfingen all Mercedes. The courageous and extravagant homologation model Mercedes 190 E 190 E 2.3-16 actually did not fit into the program of the reputable Daimler-Benz AG.

Only 5,000 190E 2.3-16 were planned

The 190E 2.3-16 attracted more sports drivers to Mercedes than expected.

Only 5,000 copies of the Mercedes 190 E 2.3-16 were initially to be built. At first, salespeople and customers seemed overwhelmed to understand this exclusive sports equipment. A surprising number of women around 40 have misunderstood it as a leather-covered luxury edition of the barren 190, pardon: interpreted it. Then he called on committed sports drivers again, for whom a 280 E was too cumbersome and too boring. BMW renegades found the bite and driving pleasure of the first poisonous 323i in the Mercedes 190 E 2.3-16. Only the GTI gold chain faction could only afford it in the mid-1990s. Despite its non-conformism, the 2.3-liter sold almost 20,000 times in four years.

Rare late version 2.5-16

The late Mercedes 190 E 2.5-16 faded much faster. He only brought it to 6,700 copies, including the uncompromising Evolution models. As early as 1990, this fashionable eighties car went noticeably out of fashion. Even two additional colors could not prevent this: A shrill almandine red metallic from the cosmetic studio or a simple silver gray complemented the range of the Mercedes 190 E 2.5-16. Some company bosses drove the noble 190 as a second car, and even then Mercedes freaks imagined it to be a supposedly profitable collector's item for fair-weather trips in the double garage.

Limited slip differential and level control

Its character bears plenty contradicting features that create a lot of tension: the Mercedes 190 E 2.3-16 was as provocative as a disco girl with a short leather skirt and western boots from Prada, but by no means cheaply dressed, but wore the make-up of all things the pensioner's color smoky silver metallic. Okay, there was also blue-black as an alternative, it rocks more, goes better with the spoiler trim. As a true sports cannon, the Mercedes 190 E 2.3-16 offers large-format 7x15-inch wheels, ABS, a lamellar differential with 35 percent locking effect and the complex hydropneumatic level control at the rear.

auto motor und sport praised the driving behavior in the test.

On request, the Mercedes 190 E 2.3-16 also in front. The best ingredients for good traction and neutral driving behavior with a very wide limit range. auto motor und sport wrote in volume 18/1984 in the first test: 'Even all-wheel drive does not make up for the driving behavior and driving safety of this conventionally powered car.' Last but not least, all these technical delicacies make the Mercedes 190 E 2.3-16 in the price list as expensive as two ordinary 190 carburettors.

For the joy of driving: manual transmission

Frank Herzog
Fits perfectly: Getrag manual transmission with first gear on the left rear.

The tightly stepped five-speed sports transmission from Getrag goes perfectly with the active driving character of the Mercedes 190 E 2.3-16 salon sports car. The limiter only switches off at a switching speed of 7,100 rpm, proof of the enormous speed of the large-piston four-cylinder. The velvety four-speed automatic transmission typical for Mercedes does not even come close to using this potential. It was also available in the successor 190 E 2.5-16 until the end of production in 1993, but this option was rarely requested.

Hot Cosworth head for staid M102

Daimler-Benz, of all things, the mother of all car manufacturers, who has the ambition to design everything in-house, sources the elaborately cast and meticulously finely machined cylinder head for the two sixteen-valve engines from the British specialist Cosworth. The tried and tested M102 from the 230E, which specifies the bore and stroke, serves as the block. Two overhead camshafts operate the valves directly via bucket tappets. Quality problems were promptly delayedthe start of series production by almost a year. It will later turn out that the single chain is too weak even for the series 230 with 136 HP. The Mercedes 190 E 2.5-16 was therefore given a stable duplex chain. The Mercedes 190 E 2.3-16 was presented at the 1983 IAA. The start of series production was only in September 1984. The sixteen-valve engine made its spectacular sport debut, originally as a near-series rally car in Group B, replacing the cumbersome five-liter SLC and 280 CE should, in August 1983 on the high-speed line in Nardo. Three 220 hp Mercedes 190 E 2.3-16, directed by Mercedes rally guru Erich Waxenberger, set three new long-distance world records with an average of 248 km /h. Later, in May 1984, it caused a sensation at the Race of the Champions on the occasion of the opening of the new Nürburgring.

Ayrton Senna and the Baby-Benz

The 2.3-16 became famous in motorsport. The race at the Nürburgring and the DTM outings are legendary, as here with Kurt Thiim at the wheel.

Twenty smoky silver pre-series sixteen-valve engines circled in the Rain on the fresh asphalt of the GP course. Formula 1 drivers from five decades fought a heated battle. A young Brazilian driver named Ayrton Senna da Silva won in his Mercedes 190 E 2.3-16. Many people saved themselves the crude, formula-sounding type designation and since then have simply spoken of the Senna car when they mean the most expensive and sportiest Mercedes 190. The Sport-190 became a legend, however, primarily through its DTM outings with Klaus Ludwig, Ellen Lohr and Kurt Thiim as well as the tough fights with the Audi V8 and BMW M3 E30 on partly narrow street circuits.

LCD stopwatch and Becker Avus Cassette

Frank Herzog
Typically Mercedes: functional interior with sports plaid.

The sports seats with the strongly accentuated leather side bolsters hold you tight. You immediately feel at home behind the leather steering wheel, just like in any Mercedes. The fully equipped center console of the Mercedes 190 E 2.3-16, enriched with an oil thermometer, ammeter and this playful LCD stopwatch, houses a simple Becker Avus cassette. Instead of sporty asceticism as in the BMW M3, there is dignified but functional luxury. This is implemented perfectly in this Mercedes 190 E 2.5-16 from 1989, whose black full leather interior looks even more appetizing. No switch remains blind, no area bare with the amount of special equipment that went into the car, which once cost more than 100,000 marks. The rear compartment in the Mercedes 190 E 16-valve is strictly divided into two parts, the center armrest and high seat bolsters make the four-valve units also four-seater. You don't have to race behind the fine leather steering wheel, the four-cylinder, already full and robust sounding below, turns smoothly and powerfully from 1,000 rpm. A full torque of over 200 Newton meters is available from 3,200 tours. The chauffeur can stroll lazy to change gear or, in an emergency, let the fun brake change automatically without feeling frustrated.

The chassis of the Mercedes 190 E 16-valve, which is still comfortably tuned for all its sportiness, fits this relaxed type of brisk driving which therefore also pass as fast touring cars. And like all high-revving sports engines, they are also economical. They're just not quiet, the speed level is high, but the bright, sawing, almost screeching sound inspires. Of course, it is both fun to use the high reserves, above 4,500 rpm the DOHC engine is unleashed.

Whoever shifts at 6,000 rpm still has reserves

Frank Herzog
The 16-valve engine is still a lot of fun today.

The power development of the Mercedes 190 E 16-valve engine feels wonderfully linear, the needle of the rev counter rushes forward vehemently. Anyone who shifts gears at 6,000 tours still has reserves, protects the engine and makes great progress. The unusual gearshift pattern of the astonishingly precise sports transmission always allows joyful commuting on narrow country roads on a level between second and third gear. Powerful acceleration at the top of the torque curve is really fun.

The excellent chassis of the Mercedes 190 E 16V does the rest to make driving fun. The wagons are taut and negotiate fast corners with practically no body roll. Is the much cheaper Mercedes 190 E 2.6 an alternative to the 2.3-16? The six-cylinder is not much weaker in everyday use, but is much more refined. But it lacks that special touch - and one misses the stylistic and technical extravagance. Only the Mercedes 190 E 16-valve units embody the fashionable sex appeal of the eighties so brilliantly and authentically.


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