The Mercedes 190-Series is a compact, low-end, executive car manufactured by the German luxury carmaker. It was positioned below the S-Class and E-Class models and was one of the cheapest models offered by Mercedes-Benz during its production run from 1982 to 1993. Despite the low cost, the 190-Series still offered a lot of the class and luxury that made Mercedes-Benz so famous.
The car had a patented 5-link suspension at the rear that would later be adopted in the E and C Class models too. It had anti-roll bars in the front rear and anti-squat and anti-dive geometry, along with seatbelt pretensioners and ABS. The Mercedes 190-Series had good sales figures locally and in Europe, although it saw little positive response in the United States. Production of the car ended in April 1993 after over 1.8 million were produced.
To replace the 190-Series, Mercedes-Benz introduced a newly created nameplate called the C-Class. Apart from the 190E, drivers also saw the production of 180E models for a period of two years from 1991 to 1993. This model was essentially a more basic version of the 190E with cloth seats and manual windows, and it was meant to circumvent the luxury car tax of the time.
When the Mercedes 190-Series was first introduced in the 1980s, the sedan only had a 6-cylinder petrol engine. This 2.6L engine came with a 5-speed manual transmission standard and 4-speed automatic as an option. This small, low-cost Benz was the only model offered by Mercedes with a choice in transmission.
From 1991 onward, Mercedes 190-Series got a 2.3L 4-cylinder engine as well as a traction control system called ASR that was optional with automatic transmission. For the cost of a 190-Series, the owner usually gets a smaller boot and rear bench than what is usual for a compact sedan. However, Mercedes-Benz is known for its quality and class and not for low-cost rides. You may not get the standard package, but you do get all the virtues of a good Mercedes-Benz, including safety, great engineering, and solid construction.
The first models that were introduced in 1982 were the Mercedes 190E and 190. Both models came with a 2.0L, 4-cylinder engine. The 190 model got an engine rated at 67kW, while the 190E model got an engine that delivers 91kW. In 1984, a carburetted version of the Mercedes 190 was introduced with a revised engine that delivered 78kW instead of 67kW. The next year, the German carmaker introduced the 190E 2.6, the first 190-Series model equipped with an inline-6 engine. This model delivered 119kW of power.
Irrespective of the engine choice, the Mercedes 190-Series does not disappoint with its performance. The 4-cylinder engines of various displacements perform quite well, although they lack acceleration when starting from a standstill. Once the car gets going, the engine does well in delivering power when needed and keeping the car cruising. The 6-cylinder engine introduced later on feels and performs more solidly. The difference in mileage between these two engines is minimal.
The 6-cylinder has an average of around 12.2L/100km, while the 4-cylinder engine has an average of 11.7L/100km. All models of the Mercedes 190-Series also offer excellent handling and stability. The unique suspension system is soft enough to absorb most bumps but firm enough for most roads and keeps the car controllable even at high speeds. In fact, all the components of the car come together for a good driving experience; visibility is good, steering is responsive, controls are easy to reach, and the seating is supportive yet comfortable.
Despite the positives, it is important to understand that the Mercedes 190-Series is not a trailblazer. It does not accelerate rapidly or deliver the thrill of a race car, but what it does do best is offer a relaxed cruising experience while using less fuel than most other cars. The ride is smooth and very comfortable, and the passengers are kept safe for the most part.
During its production run during the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Mercedes 190-Series did not come with airbags, but that does not diminish the safety of the car. Most models come with ABS, except for entry-level models produced during the 1990s. The seatbelts and suspension system offer extra safety. The car did, however, have climate control, a leather steering wheel and gear knob, as well as a 6-speaker sound system with CD player.
The Mercedes 190-Series costs about as much as a Commodore or a Falcon, both of which are not terribly reliable. On the other hand, the 190-Series gives you the quality and class of Mercedes-Benz and can be relied upon for years to come. Simply put, the 190-Series is a well-constructed and tidy car, and for its price, that is a very rare combination.