Normally, the kinds of cars that end up on my dream list have exotic names, come from exotic places, and aren’t from the early 1990’s. The faster, more expensive and newer they are, the better. And I like passionate cars: Wings, loud exhausts, shattering speed, and more soul than an Aretha Franklin concert. Having a ‘90’s Mercedes-Benz sedan on this coveted list seems impossible, or at least highly improbable, especially when you stop and consider the recent batch of hot MB’s: the C63 AMG Black Series, E63 AMG, SLS AMG, and the luxo-rocket S65 AMG. These cars all pack enough horsepower and torque to alter your perception of reality and would make a sweet addition to the dream list. So what are we doing looking at this antiquated MB sedan? Think of the 190E 2.5-16 Evolution II as the exception to the rule of boring ‘90’s cars and being totally worthy of a place on the dream list.
The Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16 Evolution II is to the regular 190E sedan what the Subaru WRX STi is to the standard WRX: It’s more powerful, more flamboyant, and wears the absolute daddy of rear wings. The Evolution II’s monstrous rear wing makes even the current generation of Subaru STi’s look all sedate and civilized. First unveiled at the 1990 Genva Motor Show, this fantastic Merc was born from Mercedes’ involvement in the Group A Tour Car Championship racing which required that the aerodynamic components of the race car match the road-going production version. Much of that racing pedigree can be found in the car’s flared wheel arches, deep front splitter, upgraded brakes, and firmer suspension. The 2.5 liter four-cylinder had its compression ratio, valve lift, timing, intake tract and exhaust all retuned to help make a potent 232 horsepower.
Inside, it’s classic Mercedes with leather, wood trimming, and no-nonsense style. On modern MBs, we expect buckets full of tech, and the Evolution II sports some of its own gadgetry including a switch near the steering wheel that allows the driver to adjust the ride height to three different levels. It’s a rare car too with only 500 or so ever being produced, so it’ll make an equivalent BMW E36 M3 seem commonplace and tame. All these go-fast parts did count for something on the racetrack; the Evolution II claimed the 1992 DTM driver’s title. Thank goodness the nineties brought us more than Vanilla Ice and Trapper Keepers.