1,874,668 built 
Thonburi, Thailand (TAAP)
|Designer||Peter Pfeiffer, Bruno Sacco (1979)|
|Body and chassis|
|Class||Compact executive car|
|Body style||4-door saloon|
|Engine||1.8L 8v I4 - 2.0L 8v I4 - 2.3L 8v I4 - 2.3L 16v I4 - 2.5L 16v I4
Diesel 2.0L - 2.2L - 2.5L Non-Turbo
Diesel 2.5L Turbo
|Wheelbase||104.9 in (2,664 mm)|
|Length||175.1 in (4,448 mm)
1988–1990 Base: 175.0 in (4,445 mm)
|Width||1988–1990: 66.1 in (1,679 mm)
1991–93: 66.5 in (1,689 mm)
|Height||1988–1990: 54.7 in (1,389 mm)
1991–93: 54.1 in (1,374 mm)
The Mercedes-Benz W201 is a compact executive car manufactured by Mercedes-Benz from 1982 to 1993, positioned below the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and S-Class — and marketed under variants of the Mercedes 190 nameplate.
The W201 featured a patented rear 5-link suspension, subsequently used in E and C class models, front and rear anti-roll bars, anti-dive and anti-squat geometry — as well as available airbags, ABS brakes and seatbelt pretensioners.
The W201 enjoyed strong sales in Europe but fared poorly in the United States. Series production ended April 13, 1993 after the manufacture of approximately 1.8 million examples. The 190 and its variants were succeeded in the compact executive car segment by the C-Class, a newly created nameplate.
- 1 Background
- 2 Gasoline models
- 3 Diesel models
- 4 Limited editions
- 5 190E 2.3-16 & 2.5-16 "Cosworth"
- 6 Evolution models
- 7 16V AMG power pack
- 8 Engines
- 9 AMG models
- 10 Mercedes 190 D BlueEFFICIENCY (2009)
- 11 References
- 12 External links
Mercedes spent over £600 million researching and developing the 190 and subsequently said it was 'massively over-engineered'. The W201-based 190 was introduced in November 1982.
Local red tape in Bremen (which produced commercial vehicles at the time) prevented Daimler-Benz from building the 190 there, so production was started in Sindelfingen at a capacity of just 140,000 units per year. Eventually after just the first year, Bremen was cleared for production of the 190, replacing its commercial vehicle lines, and there the 190 was built with the first running modifications since release.
The 190E (E for Einspritzung, or Fuel Injection) model uses the Bosch Jetronic Multi-Point Fuel Injection to meter fuel instead of the carburetor of 190 models. Thanks to their fuel injection system, 190E models made more power and were more fuel efficient when compared to non-fuel injected 190 models.
In 1982, the first available models were the 190 and 190E. Each was fitted with an M102 1,997 cc displacement motor. The 190 was fitted with an M102.921 90 hp (67 kW) engine and the 190E fitted with an M102.962 122 hp (91 kW) engine. In September 1983, the 190E 2.3 (2,299 cc) was released for the North American market only (although a 190E 2.3 appeared in other countries later), fitted with a 113 hp (84 kW) M102.961 engine. This reduction in power was due to the emissions standards in the North American market at the time. The intake manifold, camshaft, and fuel injection system were refined in 1984, and the engine produced 122 hp (91 kW). The carbureted 190 was revised in 1984 as well, increasing its horsepower rating to 105 hp (78 kW). 1984 also saw the arrival of the 2.3-16 "Cosworth."
In 1985, the 190E 2.3 now came fitted with the M102.985 engine, producing 130 hp (97 kW) hp until it was revised in 1987 to use Bosch KE3-Jetronic Injection, a different ignition system, and a higher compression ratio, producing 136 hp (101 kW).
1987 marked the arrival of the first inline-six equipped 190, the 190E 2.6. Fitted with the M103.940 engine, the 190E 2.6 provided 160 hp (119 kW) with a catalyst and 164 hp (122 kW) without. In the North American market, the 190E 2.6 was sold until 1993, the end of the W201 chassis's production. From 1992-1993 the 2.6 was available as a special "Sportline" model, with an upgraded suspension and interior. The 190E 2.3 was sold until 1988, then went on a brief hiatus until it was sold again from 1991 until 1993.
The W201 190D is known for its extreme reliability and ruggedness with many examples doing more than 500,000 miles without any major work. The 190D was available in three different engines. The 2.0 was the baseline, and was never marketed in North America. The 2.2, with the same power as the 2.0, was introduced in September 1983. It was only available in model years 1984 and 1985, and only in the USA and Canada. The 2.5 was available in the late 80's and early 90's. The 2.5 Turbo, while sold in mainland Europe, but not the UK for many years, was available to American buyers only in 1987 and is now somewhat of a collectors item. The exterior of the 2.5 Turbo is different from other models in that it has fender vents in the front passenger side fender for the turbo to breathe.
For the UK and Irish market a special edition 190 was released for the 1993 model year. The car was given the badge name 190LE though on the rear boot lid it read 190E (on the left hand side of the lock) and LE on the right hand side. Roughly 1000 LEs were produced and each one came with a large A3 sized certificate giving each car a unique number.
LEs were available in three colours only; Azzuro Blue (blue/purple), Brilliant Silver and Rosso Red (Burgundy). The Azzuro blue coloured cars came with a grey checked cloth interior, the silver ones with black checked cloth and the Rosso Red with biscuit/cream checked cloth.
LEs were equipped with extra features that had been options on the other models and were only available with the 1.8- or 2.0-litre engine. Both the 1.8- and 2.0-litre models were equipped with a standard electric tilt and slide steel sunroof, four electric windows, electric aerial, 8-hole alloy wheels, Blaupunkt Verona CR43 Radio/cassette and walnut wood trim (as opposed to Zebrano wood). The 2.0-litre-engined version had in addition rear headrests and a front armrest. The LE was nearly £3500 cheaper than a non-LE 1.8 car of identical specification, and £2000 cheaper for a 2.0-litre.
No further options could be added to LE cars from the factory - though some were equipped with other dealer-installed items.
In Australia a limited run of 180E W201 cars could be bought from 1991 to 1993. This was essentially a 190E 1.8 with very basic trim (cloth seats, manual windows etc.), which allowed it to undercut the Luxury Car Tax introduced by the government at the time.
In 1993, for the U.S. market, 2 LE models were offered, limited to 1400 units (700 190E 2.3 LE and 700 190E 2.6 LE). The 2.3 LE was only offered in Emerald Green while the 2.6 was only offered in black.
In the late 1970s, Mercedes competed in rallying with the big V8-powered Coupés of the R107 Series, mainly the light-weight Mercedes 450 SLC 5.0. Mercedes wished to take the 190 E rallying, and asked British race car engineering company Cosworth to develop an engine with 320 bhp (239 kW) for the rally car. This project was known as project "WAA' by Cosworth". During this time, the Audi Quattro with its all-wheel drive and turbocharger was launched, making the 2.3-16v appear outclassed. With a continued desire to compete in high-profile motor sport with the 190, and also now an engine to do it with, Mercedes turned to the Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft (DTM) (German Touring Car Championship) motor sport series instead. Cars racing in this championship, however, had to be based on a roadgoing model. Mercedes therefore had to put into series production a 190 fitted with a detuned version of the Cosworth engine. This high-performance model was known as the 190 E 2.3-16, and debuted at the Frankfurt Auto Show in September 1983, after its reputation had already been established. Three cars, only slightly cosmetically altered, had set three world records in August at the Nardo testing facility in Italy, recording a combined average speed of 154.06 mph (247.94 km/h) over the 50,000 km endurance test, and establishing twelve international endurance records. The Mercedes 190-E Cosworth was also featured on the second episode in series fifteen of the popular car show Top Gear.
The Cosworth engine was based on the M102 four cylinder 2.3-litre 8-valve 136 hp (101 kW) unit already fitted to the 190- and E-Class series. Cosworth developed the cylinder head, "applying knowledge we've learnt from the DFV and BDA." It was made from light alloy using Coscast's unique casting process and brought with it dual overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder, meaning 16 valves total which were developed to be the "largest that could practically be fitted into the combustion chamber".
In roadgoing trim,the 2.3 L 16-valve engine made "185 hp (138 kW) at 6,200 rpm and 174 lb·ft (236 N·m) at 4,500 rpm. The oversquare 95.50 x 80.25 mm bore and stroke dimensions ensuring that it revs easily up to the 7000 rpm redline". Acceleration from 0–100 km/h (62 mph) was less than eight seconds, and the top speed was 230 km/h (143 mph).
US-Specification cars had a slightly reduced compression ratio (9.7:1 instead of 10.5:1), and were rated at 167 hp (125 kW) @ 5800 rpm and 162 lb·ft (220 N·m) @ 4750.
The roadgoing version of the engine was reconfigured with reduced inlet and exhaust port sizes, different camshaft profiles, no dry sump configuration and Bosch K-jetronic replacing the specialised Kugelfischer fuel injection. These changes helped bring power down to the required 185 bhp (138 kW) specification, but still resulted in a "remarkably flexible engine, with a very flat torque curve and a wide power band". The heads for the engines were cast at Cosworth's Coscast foundry in Worcester and sent to Germany to be fitted to the rest of the engine, parts of which were different from the standard 2.3 including light pressed alloy pistons, and rings designed to withstand higher engine speeds, whilst con-rods, bearings and bearing caps were found to be strong enough as standard and left unaltered.
An enlarged 2.5 L engine replaced the 2.3 L in 1988. It offered double-row timing chains to fix the easily snapping single chains on early 2.3 engines, and increased peak output by 17 hp (12.5 kW) with a slight increase in torque. For the European market without catalyst (RÜF) the car delivered 204 bhp (150 kW). Catalyst equipped 2.5-16s produced a slightly reduced 197 bhp (147 kW). It is debated whether the 2.5 L engine was developed and built by Mercedes or Cosworth. Mercedes was not keen to broadcast the fact that their most sporting saloon car has an engine developed by a British company. However some cylinder heads from 2.5 L cars are stamped with the Coscast logo indicating they were cast at Cosworth's foundry just like the 2.3s. Cosworth also list the project code "WAB" for the development of the 2.5-16-valve head just as they do for the 2.3-16-valve head. Car program Top Gear predicted this 2.5 model to be one of the future classics in the car world, because of its relatively unknown history and rivalry with the BMW M3.
Due to their performance, the 16-valve cars were different from the other 190 models. The body kit on the 2.3-16 and 2.5-16 reduced the drag coefficient to 0.32, one of the lowest CD values on a four-door saloon of the time, whilst also reducing lift at speed. The steering ratio was quicker and the steering wheel smaller than that on other 190s, whilst the fuel tank was enlarged from 55 to 70 L. The Getrag 5-speed manual gearbox was unique to the 16-valve and featured a 'racing' gear pattern with 'dog-leg' first gear, left and down from neutral. This meant that the remaining 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th gears were in a simple H pattern allowing fast and easy selection. The gearchange quality was, however, noted as "notchy, baulky", criticisms which weren't levelled at the BMW M3 (E30) which shared the same gearbox. The pattern is also unusual in that the driver engages reverse by shifting left and up from neutral, as for first gear in a conventional pattern. This was demonstrated in a Top Gear episode (S15E02) where James May took a 190E 2.3-16 Cosworth and repeatedly confused reverse and first gear. An oil cooler was fitted to ensure sufficient oil cooling for the inevitable track use many of these cars were destined for.
The strictly four-seater interior had Recaro sports seats with strong side bolsters for front and rear passengers. 3 extra dials - an oil temperature gauge, stopwatch and voltmeter - were included in the centre console. The 190 E 2.3-16 was available in only two colours, Blue-Black metallic (Pearl Black in the US), and Smoke Silver. The 2.5-16 added Almandine Red and Astral Silver.
All 2.3-16-valve 190 models are fitted with a Limited Slip Differential (LSD) as standard. They were also available with Mercedes' ASD system which was standard equipment on the 2.5-16v. The ASD is an electronically controlled, hydraulically locking differential which activates automatically when required. The electronic control allows varied amounts of differential lock from the standard 15% right up to 100%. It is not a traction control system however, and can only maximize traction rather than prevent wheel spin. Activation of the ASD system is indicated by an illuminating amber triangle in the speedometer.
The suspension on 16-valve models is very different from the standard 190 (W201). As well as being lower and stiffer, it has quicker dampers, larger anti-roll bars, harder bushings and hydraulic Self-levelling suspension (SLS) on the rear. This allows the rear ride height to remain constant even when the car is fully loaded.
At the inauguration of the new, shorter Nürburgring in 1984, a race with identical cars was held, with former and current F1 pilots at the wheel. A rather unknown young driver named Ayrton Senna took First Place in that race.
Private Teams such as AMG later entered the 2.3-16 in touring cars races, especially the DTM. In the late 1980s, the 2.5-16 (never released in the United States) raced many times, against the similar BMW M3 and even the turbocharged Ford Sierra RS Cosworth.
With the debut of the BMW M3 Sport Evolution, Mercedes' direct competitor, it became obvious that the 2.5-16 needed a boost for the circuit. In March 1989, the 190 E 2.5-16 Evolution debuted at the Geneva Auto Show. The Evo I, as it came to be called, had a new spoiler and wider wheel arches. Many changes were made to under-the-skin components such as brakes and suspension. There was a full SLS suspension allowing vehicle ride height to be adjusted from an interior switch. All were intended to allow the Evolution cars to be even more effective round a track.
The Evo I's output is similar to the 202 bhp (151 kW) of the "regular" 2.5-16. However this car had a redesigned engine of similar capacity but, most importantly, a shorter stroke and bigger bore which would allow for a higher rev limit and improved top-end power capabilities. Additional changes stretch to "rotating masses lightened, lubrication improved and cam timing altered". Cosworth also list a project code "WAC" for the development of the short-stroke Evolution engine.
Only 502 units of the Evolution model were produced for homologation in compliance with DTM rules. For those customers desiring even more performance, a PowerPack option engineered by AMG was available for DM 18,000. The PowerPack option included hotter camshafts, a larger diameter throttle body, more aggressive ignition and fuel management as well as optimization of the intake and exhaust systems. The net result was an additional 30 bhp (22 kW).
In March 1990, at the Geneva Auto Show, the 190 E 2.5-16 Evolution II was shown. With the success of the first Evolution model, this model's 502-unit production was already sold before it was unveiled. This car retailed in 1990 for USD $80,000.
The "Evo II" included the AMG PowerPack fitted to the same short-stroke 2.5 engine as the Evolution, as well as a full SLS suspension allowing vehicle ride height to be adjusted from an interior switch. An obvious modification to the Evolution II is a radical body kit (designed by Prof. Richard Eppler from the University of Stuttgart) with a large adjustable rear wing, rear window spoiler, and Evolution II 17-inch wheels. The kit served an aerodynamic purpose — it was wind tunnel tested to reduce drag to 0.29, while at the same time increasing downforce. Period anecdotes tell of a BMW executive who was quoted as saying "if that rear wing works, we'll have to redesign our wind tunnel." The anecdote claims that BMW did.[vague]
As mentioned 500 were made in "blauschwarz" blue/black metallic. But the last two, numbers 501 and 502 were made in astral silver.
It is clear that these cars are now extremely rare in the collectors cars market place. Very few, if any have returned for resale in Europe as these cars are now clearly in the hands of long term collectors or are in personal storage. Of interesting fact is that a significant number of Evolution II cars were privately imported to Japan and that these cars appear to be the only units available for trade as of lately. Latest appearance in USS Tokyo auction group resulted in a wholesale price at 4,050,000 yen for a 65,000 km pristine example and this car was the third of its kind to appear in the 2010 to 2011.
16V AMG power pack
Available only to 2.5-16 and Evolution I models, optional AMG Power Pack increased power to 224 bhp (166 kW) at 7,200 rpm and torque to 181 lb·ft (245 N·m) at 5,000 rpm, whilst pushing the top speed up to 155 mph. In their final incarnations, these engines produced up to 350 bhp (260 kW) in racing tune.
|Engine displacement (cc)||Model||Configuration||Power PS (kW)||Max Speed mph (km/h)||Model Badge|
|1996||Carb||I4 8V||105 (77)||115 (185)||190|
|1737||Inj||I4 8V||107 (79)||115 (185)||190E 1.7|
|1797||Inj||I4 8V||109 (80)||115 (185)||190E 1.8, 180E (AUS)|
|1996||Inj||I4 8V||122 (89)||122 (195)||190E, 190E 2.0|
|2298||Inj||I4 8V||136 (100)||124 (200)||190E 2.3|
|2597||Inj||I6 12V||166 (122)||133 (215)||190E 2.6|
|2299||Inj ECE||I4 16V||185 (136)||143 (235)||190E 2.3-16|
|2299||Inj RÜF||I4 16V||177 (130)||140 (225)||190E 2.3-16|
|2299||Inj KAT||I4 16V||170 (125)||137 (220)||190E 2.3-16|
|2498||Inj RÜF||I4 16V||204 (150)||146 (235)||190E 2.5-16|
|2498||Inj KAT||I4 16V||194 (143)||143 (230)||190E 2.5-16|
|2498/2463||Inj||I4 16V AMG p/p||225 (165)||152 (244)||190E 2.5-16|
|2463||Inj KAT||I4 16V Evolution (Evo I)||194 (143)||143 (230)||190E 2.5-16|
|2463||Inj||I4 16V Evolution II (Evo II)||235 (173)||155 (250)||190E 2.5-16|
|1997||Diesel||I4 8V||75 (55)||100 (160)||190D 2.0|
|2199||Diesel||I4 8V||73 (54)||100 (160)||190D 2.2|
|2497||Diesel||I5 10V||94 (69)||109 (175)||190D 2.5|
|2497||Diesel Turbo||I5 10V||122 (89)||119 (192)||190D 2.5 TURBO|
The turbo diesel model listed was not marketed in right hand drive form for the UK.
AMG was not part of Mercedes-Benz when the 190 was first produced, but a separate racing and tuning company. As AMG had racing experience in the DTM, they were tuning all the factory petrol engines for the customers and 190 E was one of them. Engine tuning added 25 bhp (19 kW). They fitted aerodynamic features (spoilers) improving Cw and high speed stability, alloy wheels, leather interior and larger engines up to 6-litre V8's.
The 190 E 3.2 AMG was the first model sold through Mercedes-Benz dealerships with Mercedes-Benz new car warranty. About 200 complete cars were made, in black or silver: they were very expensive (about $90,000). Besides 200 complete 190 E 3.2 AMG's, Mercedes-Benz sold AMG body kits and 3.2l AMG engines separately, so there are 190's fitted with those features at the factory or retrofitted. Sporty 190E 3.2 AMG straight-six 12-valve engines produced 234 bhp (174 kW), and reached 260 km/h (162 mph).
Mercedes 190 D BlueEFFICIENCY (2009)
It is an experimental vehicle demonstrating the improvements made in Diesel technology over the last 20 years, in isolation from the equally profound changes in the safety and comfort of the car as a whole. It was built from a 1988 190 E 2.6 which was fitted with a Mercedes-Benz OM651 engine, rated at 204 PS (150 kW; 201 hp) and 500 N·m (369 lb·ft) at 1,600–1,800 rpm. The 190 D does the 0 to 100 km/h sprint in 6.2 seconds, with fuel efficiency of 4.9 litres per 100 kilometres (NEDC). By comparison, the original car has fuel efficiency of 7.3 litres per 100 kilometres. The 190 D BlueEFFICIENCY was also compared to C 250 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY, which has fuel efficiency of 5.1 litres per 100 kilometres via NEDC method, despite the modern C 250 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY being 385 kilograms heavier, 16 centimetres longer, and around 9 centimetres wider and higher than a 190.
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- "Top 10: greatest-ever Mercedes".
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- Mastrostefano, Raffaele, ed. (1985). Quattroruote: Tutte le Auto del Mondo 1985 (in Italian). Milano: Editoriale Domus S.p.A. p. 576. ISBN 88-7212-012-8.
- "Cosworth project list".
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- "Shooting Star". Autocar Magazine. August 7, 1985. pp. 35–40.
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- "Les Grandes Marques a Monaco, Bonhams (16th May 2005)". Practical Classics.
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- "Produktinformationen fur die Mercedes-Benz-Vertriebsorganisation 190 E 2.5-16 Motor M 102 mit 16 Ventilen".
- 1990 Mercedes 190 D upgraded to new BlueEFFICIENCY engine, jumps from 32 to 48 mpg
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- Schlegelmilch, Rainer W.; Lehbrink, Hartmut; von Osterroth, Jochen (2013). Mercedes (revised ed.). Königswinter, Germany: Ullmann Publishing. ISBN 9783848002672.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Mercedes-Benz W201.|
- Curbside Classic: Mercedes 190E (W201) – Das Beste oder….Baby! – retrospective of the W201
- www.mercedes-190.co.uk The original UK Mercedes w201 190 owners club & forum with members from all over the world offering a wealth of knowledge on all things Mercedes 190.
-  Mercedes Benz 201 Star Service Manuals
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