Model Page

Mercedes 190 E 2.5 Evolution 1

Production Run:


Production Date:

February 1989 - May 1989


Mercedes Cosworth 2.5 16v


Bremen (Germany)


7.7 Secs

Max Speed:

143 Mph

The Mercedes 190 E 2.5-16 Evolution I debuted at the Geneva Motor Show in March of 1989, launched in response to BMW’s M3 Sport Evolution only 502 vehicles were manufactured to comply with homologation requirements for the DTM championship. Essentially sporting a detuned version of the 190E used in German Touring cars the vehicle was a high performance car suitable for everyday use.

Mercedes 190 E 2.5 Evolution 1

Mercedes 190 E 2.5 Evolution 1

Mercedes Benz introduced the W201 190 in 1982, the most affordable vehicle in the manufacturers range the car was a four door executive saloon and was instantly referred to as the “Baby Benz”. The company invested heavily in the development of the vehicle with some reports estimating the development cost as much as £600 million, Mercedes was committed to ensure that the new model would not ruin its hard won reputation and so the 190 was over engineered.

Mercedes introduced a number of developments to the 190 that were a first for the company, such items included the rear five link suspension that was subsequently used in the C class and E class vehicles and is a technology that is still in use today. Furthermore the model used a number of technologies aimed at improving safety including an Anti lock braking system, seatbelt tensioners and airbags.

Mercedes wanted to enter the 190 into Rallying and approached engine tuners Cosworth to develop an engine for this application that would generate around 320 bhp - the project was developed under the codename of “WAA” by Cosworth. The team at Cosworth had built up a strong reputation for engine tuning having recently developed the Sierra Cosworth and previously the Double Four Valve (DFV) Formula 1 engine – the most successful engine in F1 history.

Audi released its Quattro whilst the project was in development and this instantly rendered the 190 as uncompetitive. Mercedes and Cosworth pressed on and turned their attention to circuit racing namely the DTM series (Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft), homologation requirements for entry into the series ensured that Mercedes had to make the vehicle available to the general public for road use – hence the Mercedes Cosworth 2.3 16 valve was launched.

Mercedes 190 E Evolution 1 Engine

Mercedes 190 E Evolution 1 Engine

Cosworth were given Mercedes 2.3 litre 8 valve engine that was already fitted to the existing 190 models upon which to weave their magic and extract more power. A new cylinder head constructed from light alloy was developed that utilised twin overhead camshafts with four valves per cylinder. Modifications continues with light pressed alloy pistons and new piston rings that were designed to cope with higher engine speeds. Engineers found that the bearings, bearing caps and con rods were strong enough and were therefore left unaltered. With a bore of 95.50mm and stroke of 80.25mm giving rise to a capacity of 2,299cc the engine developed 185 bhp @ 6,200 rpm and 174 lb/ft @ 4,500 rpm, importantly the engine delivered a wide power band and flat torque curve.

The Evolution models were not fitted with the 2.3, but instead received a Cosworth developed 2.5 litre 16 valve four cylinder engine. The 2.5 litre engine was developed under the project code of “WAC”, the engine was a redesigned unit that had a shorter stroke and larger bore. This design change allowed the engine to have a far higher rev limit and improved the top end power output of the unit, additionally the engine was reworked substantially to lighten the rotating masses to improve engine response. To increase durability of the engine special attention was paid to the lubrication of the engine and addressing a weakness of the 2.3 litre engine the 2.5 had the double overhead camshafts driven by a duplex chain. Fuelling was provided by a Bosch sourced KE Jetronic fuel injection system with revised mapping. The engine had a bore of 97.3mm and stroke of 82.8 mm giving a capacity of 2,463cc with a compression ratio of 9.7:1 the engine developed 204 bhp @ 6,750 rpm and 177 lb/ft @ 5,500 rpm.

Whilst these output figures are very similar to the 2.5 16v engine fitted to the non Evolution cars the higher rev limit and improved power delivery gave the car a significant boost for use on the track and more of a match for its competitors.

An AMG developed PowerPack was available as a performance upgrade to the 2.5-16 and Evolution I models at a cost of DM 18,000. This option included minor reworking to the engine with the installation of a larger diameter throttle body, a remapped ECU, more aggressive camshafts and tuned intake and exhaust manifolds. The AMG PowerPack provided an additional 30 bhp increasing power to 224 bhp @ 7,200 rpm and torque up to 181 lb/ft @ 5,000 rpm, this helped push the car on to a top speed of around 152 Mph.

Mercedes 190 E Evolution 1 Cabin

Mercedes 190 E Evolution 1 Cabin

The Evolution was fitted with a five speed manual gearbox sourced from Getrag, this gearbox was characterised by its dog leg first gear. The installation was not a complete success with reviews criticising the notchy and baulky gear change – a criticism also levelled at the E30 BMW M3 that used the same gearbox.

To improve handling for both road and track use the Evo received a new suspension configuration, the suspension was stiffened and lowered with the addition of up-rated dampers. Larger anti roll-bars were fitted front and rear to improve handling characteristics of the Evolution, more importantly Mercedes installed their SLS (Self Levelling Suspension) that allowed the ride height to be revised from a switch on the dashboard.

Like the Cosworth 16 valve models the Evo was equipped with Mercedes ASD System, an electronically controlled hydraulic locking differential that varied the amount of differential lock between 15% and 100%, the system was designed to reduce wheel spin as much as possible although it must be noted that ASD was not a traction control system.

Mercedes 190 E 2.5 Evolution 1

Mercedes 190 E 2.5 Evolution 1

All Evolution models were finished in Blue / Black, Mercedes internally classified the colour as “Blaushwarz”. To improve aerodynamics, styling and to distinguish the cars from the lesser models a new body kit was fitted to the car that included a new large rear spoiler and flared wheel arched. These improvements helped bring down the drag co-efficient of the car to 0.32, a very respectable figure and at the time one of the lowest drag co-efficient of any four door saloon.

The car was manufactured between February 1989 – July 1990 and the car was launched at the Geneva Motor Show in March of 1989. With a price tag of over 87,000DM only 502 units produced for homologation requirements in compliance with DTM rules and the production run quickly sold out. Due to the strong performance, good reliability and relative exclusivity of these vehicles the car is a recognised and sought after classic car.

The Facts


Mercedes Cosworth 2.5 16 valve Inline Four





Compression Ratio:


Fuel System:

Bosch KE Jetronic Fuel Injection

Maximum Power:

EVO - 204 bhp @ 6,750 rpm.

AMG - 224 bhp @ 7,200 rpm

Maximum Torque:

EVO - 177 lb/ft @ 5,500 rpm.

AMG - 181 lb/ft @ 5,000 rpm.


Getrag 5 Speed Manual

Top Gear:




Kerb Weight:

1,320 Kg

Max Speed:

EVO - 143 Mph

AMG - 152 Mph


EVO - 7.7 Secs

AMG - 7.7 Secs