Mercedes 190E 2.5 16 Evolution: DTM legend with some rally origins

When Mercedes, AMG and Cosworth came together to create a car that broke the mold

If there is something that has characterized the Mercedes-Benz brand since its beginnings and has accompanied it throughout more than a century of life, that is the luxury and high level of finish in all or the vast majority of its models. The quality of the materials, both inside and outside, is usually very high, ultimately being the brand with the silver arrows that established the foundations of what a Premium manufacturer should be – in fact, Mercedes has laid many bases, starting from the origins of the automobile in that Benz Patent Motorwagen of the late 19th century. Also robustness, especially in the 70s, 80s and 90s. But perhaps sportiness was something that was not so common to find in the beautiful cars of the silver arrows firm, focusing more on cars for businessmen or executives.

Now, with more than 100 years of history, an exception had to appear here or there to prove the rule. One of those exceptions is the Mercedes-Benz W201, known commercially as 190. Nicknamed Baby Benz by the motoring press of the time, a car that was received with skepticism by enthusiasts of the brand, given that it had a more youthful appearance, somewhat tacky, compared to the stately floor plan of other models. An appreciation that would disappear with the passage of time, since its behavior was dynamic, but still it was also comfortable. This goodness came from a multi-link suspension, highlighting the detail that it had five arms in the rear axle. An ‘exaggerated’ car according to some, as it had been developed from the mid-seventies to the early eighties.

The most basic versions of the 190 had carburetors (there were also diesel versions and a turbodiesel, difficult to find today), but the real star here was the 190E with electronic fuel injection, which considerably increased performance. In those years Mercedes had flirted with rallies and had even won some in the WRC, as was the case with the 450 SLC 5.0 driven by the legendary Hannu Mikkola. So the 190E, with a shorter wheelbase, could be an interesting weapon for rallying.

Now, by the time the 190 came on the market in the mid-eighties, the world of rallying had changed a lot, a lot: the Audi Quattro was already at its best with its five-cylinder turbo engine and, more importantly, all-wheel drive. the four wheels that made rear-wheel drive cars obsolete (with permission from the Lancia 037). So Mercedes, still eager to race its 190E, found its place in touring car racing. First the 2.3 16 arrived with the M102 engine developed by Cosworth, but evolutions soon had to be made (to stand up to the BMW M3 Sport Evolution E30). And boy did they arrive: in the form of the 2.5 16 Evolution.