1 Dec 1984
By CHRIS HARRIS
Mercedes-Benz took on the burgeoning BMW 3 Series with its stylish W201 190E in 1984.
Just like all its other sedans only smaller, the rear-wheel drive W201 pioneered the sophisticated, multi-link rear suspension set-up, which allowed for more precise handling and ride qualities.
Power came on leisurely courtesy of an 85kW 2.0L four-cylinder engine married to a four-speed automatic transmission. The single specification 190E included air-conditioning, power steering, power windows and a radio/cassette player.
In late ’85 a rare five-speed manual option became available, followed in the New Year by the 89kW unleaded fuel 190E 2.0L, as well as the new 190D, fitted with a 66kW 2.5L five-cylinder diesel engine. It only lasted until late ’88.
Performance seekers had to wait until the expensive 190E 2.6 debuted in June ’87, fitted with a 121kW 2.6L six-cylinder engine and anti-lock brakes.
A Sportline series was available in ’89 and ’90. September ’90 saw two new four-cylinder engines replace the old 2.0L unit – the 82kW 1.8L 190E 1.8 (renamed and de-contented as the 180E from October ’91), and the 97kW 2.3L six-cylinder 190E 2.3 – but both were usurped in late ’92 by the return of the 89kW 190E 2.0L model.
The W201 180E and 190E series lasted until the W202 C-class arrived in March ’94.