The Mercedes-Benz W201 190E was born in the 80’s a compact sedan, and although it was packed with standard Mercedes engineering and safety features it is a rather sedate ride. However it could not be conceived for a better time of motorsports; the Group A era.
People often forget that Mercedes-Benz was one of the pioneers of the sport sedan segment, and their 190E models were no slouches. Engine options included a Cosworth-built 16-valve twin cam motor available in 2.3-liter and later on in 2.5-liter with double-row timing chains. Mercedes later offered upgraded aerodynamics to their models, dubbed the Evolution (Evo I) and later the Evolution II (Evo II).
The Mercedes 190E 2.3–16 was used for the 1984 exhibition race to celebrate the opening of the then-new Nürburgring short track, which was won by the legendary Ayrton Senna and helped to further immortalize the 190E. It was also thanks to the success of the 190E in touring car racing that drove BMW to create the first M3 and compete alongside.
This local 190E draws attention with its Evolution 1 bodykit, signifying its identity as a rare presence on Malaysian roads, let alone the world. Custom vents were added to the bonnet to add further aggression to an already aggressive bodykit designed purely for motor racing. But this road-going version aims to separate itself from the rest with reflectors from Airpress Germany, US-spec headlights, and Hella smoked taillights. Its 18-inch Advan RS wheels matches perfectly to the silver paint, but it also indicates something different about it.
In place of the heart is not the Cosworth motor which one would expect to find. In fact it’s not even German, but it is a worthy replacement. As a favourite of the locals, a 1JZ-GTE VVT-i now resides in the bay and displaces 2.5-liters like the Cosworth engine would have. It benefits by being more reliable and has the advantage of a turbocharger. This one runs a custom turbine setup with a Tonnka extractor and a Turbosmart 38mm wastegate. It uses stainless steel piping for the air filter, blow-off valve, and GReddy intercooler, and Samco Sport hoses elsewhere. The exhaust is a custom 2.5-inch stainless steel which flows out to a Fujitsubo Giken muffler.
The transmission is a 4-speed automatic, allowing it to be drivable daily and easy to cruise, but it doesn’t leave much option for the ECU. Nothing a rechip can’t fix. With a newfound power from the Japanese motor it was imperative to get some additional meters in the car. A boost temp, water temp, and speed meter proved to be a sufficient amount for the owner.
With its stout chassis designed for the challenging Nürburgring and the Autobahn the W201 platform is as good as it gets for a starting point. But with a significant increase in power some upgrades were in order. Bilstein absorbers were the obvious choice as they are German-made as well, fitted with H&R springs 124/2.6 of the owner’s preference, and a Sparco bar between the suspension struts. The larger 4-pot brakes were sourced from the bigger brother 300CE model and fitted with high performance brake pads. The owner took the extra mile and opted for a staggered set of Nankang NS2R semi slick tyres for the ultimate road grip performance.