Earlier this year, Mercedes-Benz celebrated the birthday of its 3 decade old sports sedan so iconic of the 1990s – the 190E 2.5-16 “Evo” II. This road purposed car was modeled after Mercedes-Benz’s 190E 2.3-16 from 1984 and all the 502 examples – the DTM homologation required at least 500 examples being built – were solely painted in the characteristic blue-black metallic color.
One of the most striking features of the 190E 2.5-16 Evolution II is the aerodynamic functioning spoilers in the front and the back. During high speeds, these spoilers significantly increase the downforce on the car’s axles, especially because both can be tilted for increased effectivity. These features – designed by a University of Stuttgart professor – resulted in a 0.29Cd, which is an exceptionally low drag figure! In this, the Evo II produced 21.2kg and 57.1kg more downforce in the front and back respectively compared to its precursor – the Evo I.
Ironically, the head of R&D at BMW, Wolfgang Reitzle, ridiculed at the time that “the laws of aerodynamics must be different between Munich and Stuttgart; if that rear wing works, we’ll have to redesign our wind tunnel.” I guess that BMW did end up redesigning the wind tunnel they used, because Mercedes-Benz’s DTM race version of the Evo II beat BMW at many a race.
Besides the functional yet esthetic spoilers, the Evo II has a unique self-leveling suspension (SLS) hydraulic rear through which the height of the car can be adjusted simply by flicking a switch in the cabin. Finally, also the extra stiffened body and 17” alloy wheels were included into the build.
Under the 190E 2.5-16 Evo II’s hood
The Evo II is powered by a 232hp and 181lb-ft of torque producing naturally-aspirated 2.5-liter 16-valve straight-four engine tuned by Cosworth, while the DTM race versions pushed it all the way up to 367hp. In this, the Evo II comes with a power pack by AMG (which had been an optional pack for the Evo I) that allows it to redline at 7600rpm by cutting the crankshaft counterweights from 4 to 8, changing the camshaft to a simplex roller chain, lowering the weight of the connecting rod, and having 2 metal catalytic converters added.
In effect, the 1340kg weighing Evo II takes only 7.1 seconds to get to 100km/h and is capable of a 250km/h top speed. The more powerful DTM racing version, however, is able to push through all the way to 297km/h. It is no surprise, then, that it was this car that enabled Ellen Lohr to become the first ever female driver winning a DTM race, and, moreover, that it won 16/24 of the touring races of the 1992 championship.
The Evolution II’s interior
Once you step inside the spacious cabin of the Evo II, you’ll recognize the class that characterizes Mercedes-Benz’s style right away. Besides the aforementioned SLS switch left from the steering wheel, it comes with all kinds of switches placed around to the gear-shift in the middle. The seats are copiously and comfortably veneered in black leather – with lateral support both in de front and in the back – and the dash and the gauges have classic ‘90s looks.
This 30 year old road legal motorsport designed Mercedes-Benz icon is still very popular today. The homologation special that was revealed at the 1990 Geneva Motor Show would at the time already set you back a good 115.000 DM. Recently, however, an auction at Bring a Trailer even ended with a final winning bid just shy of €200.000 for the Evo II.