1986 Mercedes-Benz 190 2.3-16 Cosworth 2.3 fuel injected 16v from Australia and New Zealand


Collectable German pocket rocket


Nothing has gone wrong, but it has been dealer serviced and anything that wasn't 100% has been replaced.

General Comments:

Picked by the pundits as a future classic. The 2.3-16 is comparable to BMW's mid-80s M3 E30.

By the early 1980s MB wanted to go rallying and approached the Cosworth tuning company to build a high performance 190E.

The prototype apparently turned out in excess of 300 bhp. But the Audi Quattro turned up on the scene and put paid to the rallying plan. Without 4WD you weren't in the race.

Being so far down the track MB decided to build a road going car using the DOHC 16 valve Cosworth head. De-tuned to 185 bhp, this was still some 70 bhp more than the standard SOHC 8 valver.

Mahle pistons, steel crank, HD rods, revised fuel injection ECU & a 5-speed Getrag racing gearbox completed the engine/transmission package. While a aero body kit (including a rear wing), wider wheels & tyres, uprated suspension and a larger gas tank resulted in a car that was shorter, wider and lower than standard.

These cars are powerful, with a real surge from 4500 - 7000 rpm. A bit of sleeper due to being mostly unknown and hard to differentiate from an 8 valver, they can cause a lot of fright amongst Honda Civic pilots and other lower life forms. But they are shaded by the latest Japanese turbos.

They are very quick once moving, especially in the 60 - 200 kph range, but aren't particularly quick from a standing start. Top speed is about 240 kph, but where they real shine is in their handling.

Ex-F1 driver Martin Brundle, once described the 190e 2.3-16 as having the best handling saloon car chassis. It was the first Benz to have the 5-link rear end which is still used today. These cars are weapons on twisty roads because the rear end traction allows power to be usefully put to the road. Driving fast is extremely easy due to the predictable, confidence-inspiring steering. For once "on rails" isn't hyperbole.

Roomy it isn't. This is a small car and really seats two adults and two (small) children.

But that misses the point. The 190E 2.3-16 was to be a 'Group B' rally car/sports sedan than can be used every day. That was then turned into a DTM road race car.

The 2.3-16 grew into a 2.5-16. Two homologation models the Evolution I & II (only 502 examples of each) with short-stroke engines. The Evolutions racked up over 50 DTM wins (more than BMW over the same period) and a German Touring Car Championship in 1993.

So there you have it. One of the last high-build quality Benzs. Winning racing pedigree, the only 'Cosworth' that MB are ever likely to build, that already has a cult following. Classic of the future? No damn it, it's a classic now!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 27th March, 2006

30th Dec 2007, 15:45

The current market value for this vehicle at auction, in very clean (8 or 9 on a 10 point scale) with a little over 100,000 miles is about $7,000 USD. Grey Market examples sell for about 2/3rds of what one of the 2000 ltd ed cars go for.

16th Aug 2010, 09:03

"Ex-F1 driver Martin Brundle, once described the 190e 2.3-16 as having the best handling saloon car chassis."

Martin Brundle claimed on Top Gear that he never said that.

4th Sep 2010, 16:05

Re: TopGear... do you really believe everything TopGear say? They have staged several events, such as 2 fires... so who knows: the call really might have been staged too...

1986 Mercedes-Benz 190 2.3 16v from Philippines


If you find one buy it!


Had to install new sparks and spark plug cables.

New fuel, oil, air filters.

New valve cover gaskets.

General Comments:

After bringing the car to Seyer repair shop. I can now rev to the 8000rpm mark.

The car is much much quicker.

Without the Cos-worth head this car will definitely fall behind the Hondas.

Air-con is very good.

The wood and leather trims are in perfect condition.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 19th December, 2003

20th Dec 2004, 05:40

My only negative, but only a trivial comment with this car, 1986 MB 190E, is on its top portion of upholstery at the doors which are being partly detached. But as a whole, it is probably one of the most reliable cars in the world. I never encountered even a single trouble with this car after continuously using it daily for more than 5 years now. It seems that every owner of this car would never sell it just for the purpose of buying a new car.