The Mercedes-Benz W201 was the first compact executive car manufactured by German automotive manufacturer Mercedes-Benz. Introduced in 1982, it was positioned in the size category below the Mercedes-Benz W123/W124 models and marketed under variants of the Mercedes-Benz 190 nameplate. Designer Bruno Sacco, head of styling at Mercedes-Benz from 1975-1999, regards it as his favourite design.
|Production||September 1982 – April 1993|
|Body and chassis|
|Class||Compact executive car (D)|
|Body style||4-door saloon|
|Wheelbase||2,665 mm (104.9 in)|
|Curb weight||1,110–1,300 kg (2,447–2,866 lb)|
|Successor||Mercedes-Benz C-Class (W202)|
The W201 featured innovative 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 airbags, ABS brakes and seatbelt pretensioners. It was the first serially manufactured car in history to see widespread use of light-weight high-strength steels, which today are a standard in car design.
Some main innovations of the W201 series were related to occupant safety. Its angular body was designed to withstand an offset-crash in a concrete barrier at some 35 mph (56 km/h) without serious harm to the occupants and a largely undamaged passenger cabin, a windshield that stays in place and doors easily opened without special recovery tools.
The W201 enjoyed strong sales in Europe but fared poorly in the United States. Series production ended on 13 April 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 Petrol models
- 3 Diesel models
- 4 Limited editions
- 5 190 E 2.3-16 and 2.5-16 Cosworth
- 6 Evolution models
- 7 Engines
- 8 AMG models
- 9 Mercedes 190 D BlueEFFICIENCY (2009)
- 10 References
- 11 External links
From January 1974 to January 1982, Mercedes spent over £600 million researching and developing the 190 and subsequently said it was 'massively over-engineered'. The first test mules were put into testing in 1978, with final styling being approved on March 6, 1979. The first prototypes based on that design were tested later that year, with pilot production beginning in February 1982, following engineering sign-off. It marked a new venture for Mercedes-Benz, finally giving it a new smaller model to compete with the likes of the Audi 80, BMW 3 Series and Saab 900, as well as the more expensive versions of the many medium-sized saloons and hatchbacks from mainstream brands. The W201-based 190 was unveiled on December 8, 1982, being launched in Germany the very next day on December 9, 1982 and was sold in right-hand drive for the UK market from September 1983.
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 190 E (E for Einspritzung, or Fuel Injection) model uses the Bosch KE-Jetronic Multi-Point Fuel Injection to meter fuel instead of the carburetor of 190 models. Thanks to their fuel injection system, 190 E 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 190 E. Each was fitted with an M102 1,997 cc (2.0 L) inline-4 engine. The 190 was fitted with an M102.921 engine producing 90 hp (67 kW; 91 PS) and the 190 E fitted with an M102.962 engine producing 122 hp (91 kW; 124 PS). In September 1983, the 190 E 2.3 (2,299 cc) was launched for the North American market only (although 190 E 2.3 was available for purchase in other countries later), fitted with a 113 hp (84 kW; 115 PS) 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; 124 PS). The carbureted 190 was revised in 1984 as well, receiving a power increase to 105 hp (78 kW; 106 PS). 1984 also saw the arrival of the 2.3-16 "Cosworth" variant.
In 1985, the 190 E 2.3 now came fitted with the M102.985 engine, producing 130 hp (132 PS; 97 kW) until it was revised in 1987, now utilising the Bosch KE3-Jetronic Injection system, a different ignition system, and a higher compression ratio, producing 136 hp (101 kW; 138 PS).
The Frankfurt International Motor Show in September 1985 also marked the arrival of the first 190 equipped with an Inline-six engine. Fitted with a M103.940 engine, the 190 E 2.6 had a maximum power output of 160 hp (119 kW; 162 PS) with a catalytic converter and 164 hp (122 kW; 166 PS) without it. In the North American market, the 190 E 2.6 was sold until 1993, the end of the W201's production run. From 1992–1993 the 2.6 was available as a special "Sportline" model, with an upgraded suspension and interior. The 190 E 2.3 was sold until 1988, then went on a brief hiatus until it was sold again from 1991 until 1993.
The 190 D was available with three different engines. The 2.0 L inline-four engine was the base engine, and was never marketed in North America. A 2.2-liter version, with the same power as the 2.0 L, 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 L inline-five engine was available in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The 2.5 L Turbo engine, 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 model is different from other models in that it has fender vents in the front passenger side fender to feed air to the turbocharger.
For the UK and Irish market a special edition 190 was produced for the 1993 model year. The car was given the badge name 190LE, though on the rear boot lid it read 190 E (on the left hand side of the lock) and LE on the right hand side. Roughly 1,000 cars were produced and each one came with a large A3 sized certificate giving each car a unique number.
The 190 LE was 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 coloured cars with a black checked cloth interior and the Rosso Red coloured cars with a biscuit/cream checked cloth interior.
The LE was 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 player and walnut wood trim (as opposed to Zebrano wood). The 2.0-litre version had in addition rear headrests and a front armrest. The LE was nearly £3,500 cheaper than a 1.8-litre model of identical specification, and £2,000 cheaper than a 2.0-litre model.
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 180 E Limited Edition cars could be purchased from October 1991 to March 1994. This was essentially a 1.8-litre 190 E with a very basic trim. At its launch, Mercedes-Benz were able to price the 180 E at A$45,450, compared to the 190 E at A$63,200. This was achieved by taking out equipment and also by offsetting import duties with the now discontinued policy of export credits gained through using Australian-made components for the whole Mercedes-Benz range, such as suspension springs and windscreen glass. The 180 E deleted anti-lock brakes, power windows, climate control, electric seats, heated mirrors, cruise control and multi-speaker sound system; although power steering, air conditioning and central locking remained standard.
190 2 LEEdit
In 1993, for the U.S. market, 2 LE models were offered, limited to 1,400 units (700 190 E 2.3 LE and 700 190 E 2.6 LE). The 2.3 LE was only offered in Emerald Green while the 2.6 was only offered in black. The 2.6 litre Black Sportline included Recaro seats with red inserts and red piping, rear matching headrests, carbon fiber trim, sportline gear shift, a sportier steering wheel, headlight wipers, low profile tires, 8 spoke rims, and a sportline tuned suspension which added tighter handling and lowered the car by a quarter inch. The suspension was the same suspension as the 190e Cosworth.
190 E 2.3-16 and 2.5-16 CosworthEdit
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 engineering company Cosworth to develop an engine with 320 hp (239 kW; 324 PS) for the rally car. This project was known as project WAA by Cosworth. During this time, the Audi Quattro with its all-wheel drive system and a turbocharged engine was launched, making the 2.3-16V appear outclassed. With a continued desire to compete in motorsports 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 2.3-16V, and debuted in September at the 1983 Frankfurt Motor Show, 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 Cosworth engine was based on the M102 four cylinder 2.3-litre 8-valve unit producing 136 hp (101 kW; 138 PS), already fitted to the 190 and E-Class. Cosworth developed the cylinder head. 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 generated a maximum power output of 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 ensured that the car could easily rev up to the 7,000 rpm redline. Acceleration from 0–100 km/h (62 mph) was in 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; 169 PS) at 5,800 rpm and 162 lb⋅ft (220 N⋅m) at 4,750 rpm.
The road-going 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-litre engine 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.
16V AMG power packEdit
Available only to 2.5-16 and Evolution I models, optional AMG Power Pack increased power to 224 hp (167 kW; 227 PS) at 7,200 rpm and torque to 181 lb⋅ft (245 N⋅m) at 5,000 rpm, while pushing the top speed up to 250 km/h (155 mph). citation needed][
2.5 L modelEdit
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 bhp (13 kW) with a slight increase in torque. For the European market, the car delivered up to 204 hp (152 kW; 207 PS) without a catalytic converter. Catalytic converter cars equipped with the 2.5-litre 16V engine generated a slightly reduced power output of 197 hp (147 kW; 200 PS). 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.
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 dog-leg change pattern, shifting down and left for first. The gearchange quality was, however, noted as "notchy, balky", criticisms which weren't levelled at the BMW M3 (E30) which shared the same gearbox. 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 standart sport size seats with strong side bolsters for front and rear passengers. Three 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 modified 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.
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, the 190 E's direct competitor, it became obvious that the 2.5-16V model needed a boost in power in order to achieve better performance than its competitor. 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 rear spoiler and wider wheel arches. Many changes were made to under-the-skin components such as brakes and suspension. The car featured an adjustable suspension system allowing the ride height to be adjusted from an interior switch. All were intended to allow the Evolution cars to be even more effective around a track.
The Evo I's power output is similar to the 202 hp (151 kW; 205 PS) of the "regular" 2.5-16. However, it 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 generation of power. Additional changes stretch to improved rotating mass, improved lubrication system along with improved cam timing. 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 the 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 improved camshafts, a larger diameter throttle body, more responsive ignition and fuel management system as well as improved intake and exhaust systems. The net result was an increase in power by 30 hp (22 kW; 30 PS) over the standard car bringing the total to 232 hp (173 kW; 235 PS).
The "Evo II" included the AMG PowerPack fitted to the same short-stroke 2,463 cc (2.5 L) inline-four engine as the Evolution, producing a maximum power output of 232 hp (235 PS; 173 kW) at 7,200 rpm and 245 N⋅m (181 lb⋅ft) of torque at 5,000 rpm, as well as a full SLS adjustable suspension allowing the ride height to be adjusted from an interior switch. An obvious modification to the Evolution II was the 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 alloy 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 BMW research and development chief, Wolfgang Reitzle, saying "the laws of aerodynamics must be different between Munich and Stuttgart; if that rear wing works, we'll have to redesign our wind tunnel." The anecdote claims that BMW did redesign its windtunnel afterwards.
500 examples were painted in "blauschwarz" blue/black metallic. But the last two, numbers 501 and 502 were painted in astral silver making them the rarest of the Evolution models.
The Evo II had the shortest production run of the 190 series models with production starting in 1990 and ending in 1991.
|Engine displacement (cc)||Model||Configuration||Power||Max Speed||Model Badge|
|1,997||Carb||I4 8V||90 PS (66 kW; 89 hp)||109 mph (175 km/h)||190|
|1,997||Carb||I4 8V||105 PS (77 kW; 104 hp)||115 mph (185 km/h)||190|
|1,737||Inj||I4 8V||107 PS (79 kW; 106 hp)||115 mph (185 km/h)||190 E 1.8|
|1,797||Inj||I4 8V||109 PS (80 kW; 108 hp)||115 mph (185 km/h)||190 E 1.8, 180 E (AUS)|
|1,997||Inj||I4 8V||122 PS (90 kW; 120 hp)||122 mph (196 km/h)||190 E, 190 E 2.0|
|2,298||Inj||I4 8V||136 PS (100 kW; 134 hp)||124 mph (200 km/h)||190 E 2.3|
|2,597||Inj||I6 12V||166 PS (122 kW; 164 hp)||133 mph (214 km/h)||190 E 2.6|
|2,299||Inj ECE||I4 16V||185 PS (136 kW; 182 hp)||143 mph (230 km/h)||190 E 2.3-16|
|2,299||Inj RÜF||I4 16V||177 PS (130 kW; 175 hp)||140 mph (225 km/h)||190 E 2.3-16|
|2,299||Inj KAT||I4 16V||170 PS (125 kW; 168 hp)||137 mph (220 km/h)||190 E 2.3-16|
|2,498||Inj RÜF||I4 16V||204 PS (150 kW; 201 hp)||146 mph (235 km/h)||190 E 2.5-16|
|2,498||Inj KAT||I4 16V||194 PS (143 kW; 191 hp)||143 mph (230 km/h)||190 E 2.5-16|
|2,498/2,463||Inj||I4 16V AMG p/p||225 PS (165 kW; 222 hp)||152 mph (245 km/h)||190 E 2.5-16|
|2,463||Inj KAT||I4 16V Evolution (Evo I)||194 PS (143 kW; 191 hp)||143 mph (230 km/h)||190 E 2.5-16|
|2,463||Inj||I4 16V Evolution II (Evo II)||235 PS (173 kW; 232 hp)||155 mph (249 km/h)||190 E 2.5-16|
|1,997||Diesel||I4 8V||72 PS (53 kW; 71 hp)||100 mph (161 km/h)||190 D 2.0|
|1,997||Diesel||I4 8V||75 PS (55 kW; 74 hp)||100 mph (161 km/h)||190 D 2.0|
|2,199||Diesel||I4 8V||73 PS (54 kW; 72 hp)||100 mph (161 km/h)||190 D 2.2|
|2,497||Diesel||I5 10V||94 PS (69 kW; 93 hp)||109 mph (175 km/h)||190 D 2.5|
|2,497||Turbo Diesel*||I5 10V||122 PS (90 kW; 120 hp)||119 mph (192 km/h)||190 D 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 hp (19 kW; 25 PS) over the standard car. Along with that aerodynamic features were added to the cars such as rear spoilers and front splitters in order to improve high speed stability, alloy wheels and a leather interior.
190 E 3.2 AMGEdit
The 190 E 3.2 AMG was the first model sold through AMG authorized re-seller with a Mercedes-Benz new car warranty. About 200 complete cars were made, in black or silver: they were very expensive (about DM 155,780). Besides 200 complete 190 E 3.2 AMG's, Mercedes-Benz sold AMG body kits and 3.2 L AMG engines separately, so there are 190's fitted with those features at the factory or retrofitted The 190 E 3.2 AMG straight-six 12-valve engines generated a maximum power output of 231 hp (172 kW; 234 PS), and enable the car to attain a top speed of 243 km/h (151 mph).  
Mercedes 190 D BlueEFFICIENCY (2009)Edit
The 190 D BlueEFFICIENCY is an experimental vehicle demonstrating the improvements made in Diesel engine 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 based on a 1988 190 D 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 Blue EFFICIENCY accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 6.2 seconds, with fuel efficiency of 4.9 litres per 100 kilometres (NEDC). By comparison, the original car has the 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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- Mercedes 190 Serie 201 ab November 1984. Reparaturanleitung series, Band 1039. (in German). Zug, Switzerland: Verlag Bucheli. 2012. ISBN 9783716817766.
- Mercedes 190D Serie 201 ab September 1985. Reparaturanleitung series, Band 1089/1090/1091. (in German). Zug, Switzerland: Verlag Bucheli. 2012. ISBN 9783716818190.
- Mercedes-Benz Technical Companion. Cambridge, MA, USA: Bentley Publishers. 2005. ISBN 9780837610337.
|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