1988 Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.6 6 cylinder petrol from Australia and New Zealand


Amazing car - among the best Mercedes have ever built


A/C needs recharging.

Very slight oil leak from front of cylinder head - 1 litre of oil every 3,500 kms.

Needs new tyres - the ones that are on it are old and hard.

General Comments:

A fantastic car. Drives brilliantly - it feels like new. My 16 year old son asked "is it a sports car or a luxury car?" when we took it for a test drive, and that sums up its dual character perfectly. It is as quick as our Honda Prelude, but it has 4 doors and all of the creature comforts, along with a much smoother ride.

It doesn't go around corners like our Prelude, but then, that's not what it's for. In fact - while looking very similar on paper in terms of performance, you couldn't get 2 cars with greater differences in the way that they deliver that performance. Both are absolutely brilliant in their own way, but the Prelude is a pure sports car, and the 190E is a sports saloon. That said, it does handle incredibly well. It just needs better tyres to make the most of the potential.

The interior is in amazing condition for its age - I have been in 2 and 3 year old cars which show more wear. Mercedes really did build these things properly.

We took it to our local Mercedes specialist for a service soon after we bought it - we have been taking our cars there for the last 10 years - and he said that it was basically a new car, to all intents and purposes. The slight oil leak is VERY common on this model, and we have been assured by our mechanic that it is absolutely nothing to worry about.

To sum it up - what a car! Everyone who rides in it comments on its performance, ride, comfort and looks. What more could you ask?

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 4th September, 2008

1988 Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.3 from North America


Looks and Drives Outstanding


I am thinking of purchasing a 1988 MB 190E. The dealer is asking 1975 USD - he got it at auction. It has one owner and all maintenance paperwork. It looks and drives incredibly. I almost can't believe it's so tight and powerful. The check engine light is on, and the AC seems to work intermittently.

General Comments:

I'm thinking of this car for my daughter who is in school. And, I was convinced that I needed to get her something all wheel drive (snow, etc), but this seems like such a wonderful car for the money. Am I buying a money pit?

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 11th June, 2007

12th Jun 2007, 05:16

The dealer is asking $1975 too much for it.

12th Jun 2007, 13:52

Very helpful comment above (not).

I had a 1991 190E for 3 years. Solid and dependable car, but can be a problem because of age. I would certainly have the check engine light and air con seen to before purchase and deduct cost of fixing from price or walk away. They may be old, but they are still not as cheap as a Toyota to fix.

1988 Mercedes-Benz 190 2.3-16 (Cosworth) 2.3 16v DOHC Inline 4 cylinder from UK and Ireland


Road racer nearing classic cult status


Door Trim lifting from rear door.

New hazard warning lamp switch required.

New water pump when first got the car.

New rear shocks.

New rear Brake shoes.

New timing chain is now needed.

Worn piston rings (too expensive to replace)

General Comments:

I bought this car very cheaply and expected a few problems.

If buying one of these fine cars though, it is important to remember the following (I found out the hard way)

Always buy a standard car with history - They do not drive right with lowered suspension or engine mods, and big wheels etc.

The car should always start cleanly and the idle should be steady at all engine temperatures - If the throttle is blipped and the engine bogs down after the revs have dropped the idle valve on the injection system is faulty, and at around £250 sterling to replace is very expensive.

Forget what people say about the engines being rattly - Yes, the engines are a bit tappety, but remember this is a Merc - The engine should run quietly and only a slight top end rattle should be heard - anything else means the car has had a hard life.

Make sure the timing chain and its tensioner are not noisy - when worn they make a hissing noise that emmits from the front of the car and to change it is ususally an "engine out" job.

Check for oil consumption - a hard driven one will have worn its piston rings and suffer leakage in the engine (mine has) - To put this into perspective a new set of Cosworth forged pistons and rings will set you back £635 added to the cost of rebuilding the engine.

Although better than most - a lot of these cars are now over 15years old and have begun to rust - the most common areas are under the plastic wheel arches and body kit - run your finger under the arches to check for rust.

In the UK the car did get a bit of a reputation for being a "gangster's" car in the 90s and make sure the car is straight and not stolen etc. The car should have 2 master keys that operate all locks on the car. If one key does one thing the other another something is not right.

My personal choice would be to go for a standard late model 2.5-16 in "blue- black" or "Almandine" red. It is a fantastic car to drive and a real piece of Merc history - Buy carefully and you will have yourself a beautifully responsive, practical and economical alternative to a BMW M3. Buy badly though, and you will have one big headache - not to mention a completely empty wallet!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 18th August, 2005

25th Aug 2005, 04:25

Very helpful review. Nobody within the Mercedes dealer organization seems to know anything about these special cars. It is very, if not extremely difficult to find a good example. But hey... this is a sports sedan... have you ever found a 1980s M3 in good condition?!

Anyway, was in the league myself for one.

18th Dec 2007, 17:29

Well yes! I've yet to come across an E30 M3 in bad nick.

Oh and this not a dig at the Merc.

I'm in the midle of buying on just now.

1985 model in need of work.

But hey... It's old, cheap, and the daddy so it's worth the months it'll take me to get it up to scratch.

21st Nov 2009, 22:33

Hi from New Zealand.

I had an Anthracite (Black) 190E 2.3-16 for several years.

It was a real Jekyll and Hyde relationship. If my wife got out leaving the seat too far forward, I could not get in nor adjust the seat because I had to be sitting in it to do that! But it saved our lives at least once. Not many cars can change into 2nd gear at 110kph change lanes and accelerate out of trouble! We used to embarrass the common 4.2L Ford Falcons (Autos usually) both on "go" and handling. Not bad for 2.3L.

Even the odd motorcycle had bother, a Triumph with ape-hanger bars, with a man in a black jacket and a black "patch" blown away from a standing start by my black car. And I didn't even change gear! He WAS annoyed! (So was my wife!!)

The cam-chain-cum-head job cost $NZ4200 when a Japanese cam belt would be $300 or so! OUCH.

Wish we had the 2.5 with twin-row cam chain. Only half a dozen came here. I enquired about upgrading our chain, but no dice. Shame.

Sometimes I wish we still had the 'Benz, but parts are SOOO dear. Frugal on petrol though! 98, now available here best.

Enjoy you who restore these beasts. I still have half a bottle of rear-suspension hydraulic oil. EXPENSIVE it was!

Cheers from Auckland NZ.