Published on January 14th, 2015 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez1
Mercedes 190E 2.3-16 AMG Used Car Review
In 1984 the new 190E 2.3-16 made its debut at the top end of the model series. Even in appearance, the new model was very different, with a clear profile as a compact sports car highlighted by features such as the wing-type spoiler at the rear. For the engine, the company’s engineers went back to the W 123 series. The four-cylinder engine with 2299-cc displacement as used in the 190E 2.3-16 had a newly designed cylinder head with two intake and two exhaust valves. These and other modifications boosted engine power from 100 kW to 136 kW, with acceleration from standstill to 100 km/h in just 7.5 seconds. The car’s top speed was 230 km/h.
World long-distance records in Nardo
The Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 had been able to show what it could do as early as in 1983 the year of its presentation at the Frankfurt International Motor Show. Four weeks before the launch, three prototypes of the model had set several world long-distance records over 25,000 kilometers, 25,000 miles, and 50,000 kilometers, with average speeds of almost 250 km/h, in Nardo, southern Italy. These results were a foretaste of the 190’s subsequent career as a sports car. The new Mercedes-Benz racing car made its debut in the official opening race on the new Nürburgring on May 12, 1984. The road-going version of the 16-valve model went into production in September 1984, in two metallic finishes: blue black and smoke silver.
The front and rear spoilers reached further down and were combined with larger bumpers, with new support elements and modified impact absorbers designed for increased energy absorption. The new front apron had been adopted from the 190E 2.6 and was now used on all models to reduce the lift at the front axle. The purpose of new spoiler at the rear was to optimize the airflow outflow. The refinement package also included the nearside exterior mirror as part of the standard equipment. The new interior design made the 190 more spacious and more comfortable for both driver and occupants, with more knee and head room in the rear and improved seats at both front and rear.
Simultaneously with the refinement, Mercedes-Benz also introduced its new top-of-range model for the compact class: the 190E 2.5-16, replacing the first 16-valve engine with a 2.3-liter unit after four years. The engine was actually based on its predecessor, benefiting from a longer stroke. The new engine, with catalytic converter, developed 143 kW – 18 kW more than its predecessor. Even with the catalytic converter, the performance of the new model matched the 190E 2.3-16 without emission control system. The new 16-valve model was also identified as a descendant of the Nardo record car by its visual appearance. Two new paint finishes were now available, complementing the blue black and smoke silver finishes by the addition of the metallic finishes almandine red and astral silver.
The 190E 2.5-16 as a sports sedan
The Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16 also became the basis for the sports cars entered in Group A of the German Touring Car Championship (DTM). The type-approved base model was the Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16 Evolution with the M 102 E 25/2 engine, further modified for racing. The next development stage came one year later with the 190E 2.5-16 Evolution II model. In its production version, this car, again presented for the first time at the Geneva Motor Show, delivered 173 kW, with performance boosted still further.
Production of the 190 ended in Sindelfingen in February 1993 and in Bremen in August that same year. A total of 1,879,629 vehicles had been manufactured. This underlines the success of the compact class, and the wisdom of the decision to extend the product range of the Mercedes-Benz brand into lower segments of the market.
Today a well looked after 2.3 AMG tuned 190E fetches between RM28,000 to RM35,000. The better built and faster 2.5 AMG tuned 190E will fetch as high as RM45,000 and parts and servicing for both models is not reasonable like the stock 190E models. Cosworth parts are hard to find and will be expensive even when purchased online. Still it’s a collectors car and costs are justifiable.
Mercedes-Benz four-cylinder engines are legendary for going the distance, and the under-stressed nature of these ones ensures they’re no different. However, you need to remember that most would have traveled some 300,000 to 400,000 kilometers by now and depending where they have been maintained they might be in bad shape. I have seen many run down models and at the same time many immaculate units still looking as good as the week after they drove out of the dealership. Interior trim should and will last normal abuse over time. Original leather might be cracked after all these years if never maintained by it will not be torn. Original M-Btex material with partial leather interiors will last and last and are the best to own. The oversized steering wheel would be worn on the 2 and 7 0’clock sections but will not be warped like the competition. Carpets and door trim last and only the bits surrounding the seatbelt holders and door handles might be cracked or worn. All meters on the instrument panel should be working and on early models the plastic face might be scratched so it might not be very clear.
When and if you find one you want to purchase. Check for oil leaks, mainly around the sump gasket and the rocker cover at the top of the motor. Timing chains on early models also can fail, so listen carefully for the rattle of a worn chain and tensioner. The air-conditioning should produce cold air and if it doesn’t you are probably looking at a new compressor which is expensive.
A full mechanical inspection is a pretty good idea because while the cars are pretty robust, spare parts prices can be higher than for other vehicles. So, things like disc-brake rotor thickness, interior trim and body panels should be carefully assessed. You can afford to be less critical of items such as tyres, shock absorbers and even the exhaust systems, because these can be replaced by non-genuine parts.
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