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1991 Mercedes Benz 190E 2.5-16 Evolution II

GRAN TURISMO CAR REVIEWS

merc190e.jpg

Year: 1991
Country: Germany

Class: Compact Luxury Car
Type: 4-door sedan
Host: GT4


Price: $67,910
 
Construction: unit steel
Length: 178.9" // Width: 67.7" // Height: 57.7"
Wheelbase: 104.9"
Overhang: 6 feet 2 inches
Track: 58.1" front & rear
Ground Clearance: 3.75"
Weight: 2,953 pounds
Steering: power-assisted reciculating ball
Turns Lock to Lock: 2.800
Turn Radius: 43 feet 10"
Layout: Front Engine / Rear Drive
Tires: 245/40ZR-17
F. Suspension: MacPherson struts, coils, shox, anti-roll bar
R. Suspension: 5-link, coils, shox, anti-roll bar
Brakes: vented discs

Engine: 2.5 liter DOHC inline 4
Construction:
Aspiration: natural
Fuel Syst: mechanical fuel injection
Valves / Cyl: 4
Bore x Stroke: 3.83 x 3.20"
Compression: 9.7:1
 

Final BHP: 243 @ 7,200 rpm
Fnl Torque: 190 @ 5,000 rpm

 
Idle Speed: 1,000 // Redline: 7,700 // RPM Limit: 8,200

Transmission: 5-speed manual
Differential: limited slip

0-60 mph: 7.150 seconds
0-100mph: 17.216 seconds
0-150 mph: 1:01.950
 
400 M:   15.441 @ 95 mph
1 Kilom: 27.544 @ 126 mph

 
Test Track Lap: 2:29.723  

100-zero mph: 4.100 seconds  
Top Gear RPM @ 60 mph: 2,750

Top Speed at Redline
1st: 36 mph
2nd: 62 mph
3rd: 90 mph
4th: 127 mph
5th: 156.31 mph @ 7,500 rpm

----------------EXTERIOR / HISTORY------------------

Let's get introduced to a Mercedes with a very long name: it's the 1991 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16v Evolution II. It's the Benz that handles like a BMW!

This is the impression one may get as they drive this "baby Benz" around for awhile, and it's a well-founded impression. As I've done plenty of racing in this car, racking well over 500 miles in the Pan/Euro series, various Special Condition events, and other miscellaneous drives, I started to get the feeling I indeed was driving a BMW at times instead of an executive-class snobmobile. I got this feeling even before I knew the history of the Evo II.

The 190E was Mercedes's first attempt (starting production in 1983) to create a smaller car that rivaled BMW's famous 3-series so far as driving characteristics go. The 190E was also inexpensive compared to Benzes previous to 1983.   Mercedes was really hungry to prove their new car's engine, and ran a slightly modified 190E 2.3 16v (the top-line version before the Evo appeared) for over 200 hours, breaking many endurance records, averaging over 150 mph in the process. With the Evolution II (nicknamed Evo II), we get to experience what a top-notch production version of this class of Benz is like.

First some questions. What happened to the Evo I? Was there an Evo I? Yes there was, it just doesn't appear in our game.

Nowadays, all M. Benz cars, even the full-scale luxury ones, drive and corner with confidence--apparently this wasn't so way back when. Towards the late '70s, Mercedes wanted to boost sales (as we all do), by extending their existing line of luxurious, "look at me" products with sportier models that focused more on driveability. And so they decided to put more effort towards racing, providing BMW's 3-series with some competition as well. Benz thought rally racing might be a good place to venture, but wound up putting their efforts towards pavement.

 As a racing series, DTM (Deutche Tourenwagen Masters) is a big deal in Germany, and the racing rivalry between Mercedes and BMW is not unlike that of modern STi versus Evo in Japan. To qualify for DTM's rules, however, Mercedes needed to make 500 production versions of their track-star, hence the 1989 Evo I was their final result. Over 50 DTM races have been won by 190E Evos, although when you look at the competition (Opels, BMWs and other cars from Germany) this doesn't seem so impressive, since other makes have won plenty as well. In GT4, we can win a full-racing DTM Evo II Benz from the Schwarzwäld Liga B, which means we get the best of both worlds. This car has a full-sponsorship body (how I miss GT2...) and weighs a Miata-ish 2,160 pounds.

There were some differences between the Evo I and a regular 190E. Wider wheel arches and aerodynamic aids are featured on the Evo I, as well as engine upgrades (to be discussed in the next section). In addition, the Evo I also featured a fancy SLS (self-leveling suspension), which means these cars maintain a near-constant ride height when driven in real-life. In the Evo II, the driver could also lower or raise the car at the flick of a switch. This feature is missing in GT4, of course. We haven't even got a sport suspension installed when we buy the 190E Evo II from the dealer! Other than these and a few other details, there wasn't much difference between an Evo I and a 190E in real-life, especially so far as power goes. Well this would change with the Evo II.

The main difference we have with an Evo II is more power to play with: 243 bhp versus the Evo I's 202. Again, I'll outline this further in the ENGINE / DRIVETRAIN section below. Perhaps the reason the Evo I is not in GT4 is because of its lower power. What else is different between I and II? The Evo II also featured a larger front spoiler, and a larger wing on its trunk (both adjustable in real-life AND in our game...yaah!), as well as 17 inch wheels not found on regular 190Es. There are also small badges on the Evo II's fenders denoting its superiority. The Evo II simply looks like a 190E on steroids.

At just under 3,000 pounds, the Evo II seems perfectly weighted. Not too heavy (which would influence maneuverabilty in a bad way) and not too light (which would influence stability). Purchasing Stage 1 will remove an incredible 267 pounds! And at the lightest, this car weighs in at around 2,400. 

One thing that sucks is we can only buy an Evo II in one color...black. In real-life there was a second body color available. There were 502 real-life Evo IIs, and 500 of them were black on dark blue, with the remaining 2 painted "astral silver". We can't get a silver 190E Evo II in GT4, which means I get to complain about it. ;)


------------ENGINE / DRIVETRAIN-------------

Looks like I promised to discuss the engine upgrades Evos feature over regular 190 Benzes, and for once, I haven't gotten too far ahead of myself and am talking about these upgrades in the proper section.

Many readers might not know much about Cosworth, then again some of you might. Cosworth was (and still is) a major engine tuner. Back in the day, they gained notoriety for Ford and other makes, especially throughout the '70s and '80s via Formula 1 and IMSA. So Mercedes's first decision was to have their racing and Evo/production engines tuned by Cosworth.

Why Cosworth and not AMG? Although AMG--Mercedes's high-end tuning/parts division--had been in business since 1967, the official marriage between AMG and Mercedes didn't cement for racing till decades later. Since Cosworth was proven at the time, this had lots to do with why the 2.5 liter has been Cosworth-tuned in our game-car.

What's interesting is the Evo I engine didn't feature much extra power when compared to a regular 16 valver. Instead, Cosworth configured the Evo engine to have a shorter piston stroke but a fatter bore, more agro cam-timing, and better lubrication. What this did was raise the 2.5 liter engine's redline, and it also pushed peak power to a higher range of revs; hence, this is why the car in our game never seems to run out of RPMs in most any corner.

During the Evo I era, Mercedes/Cosworth decided to offer a "PowerPack" option for those who wanted more power (duh), costing a whopping $11,000 in 1989 money. This is a lot, considering the Evo I cost 82,200 DM ($50,000!) by itself without PowerPack installed. The PowerPack 2.5L included a larger diameter throttle body, camshafts with an even more radical approach, more aggressive ignition timing and fuel management, and lighter valves. Evo II buyers apparently didn't need to buy PowerPack as an option; in this car, all these extras were installed as stock.

As a 4-cylinder, this motor has its strengths and weaknesses. Its largest obvious weakness is a perpetual lack of torque, as this is a small engine with no turbo assistance. Acceleration from a standing-start will leave many drivers wishing they could have one of Benz's bigger, either the 3.2 straight-6 or 5.0-liter V8 engines (both of which were available in 1991). During races there are occasionally times when this lack of "go" is felt. But since the Evo II was based on a DTM racer with a straight-4, the production version also had this same engine. You have to also keep your revs high at all times...anywhere below 5,000 rpms is a bad place to be, unless you're in first gear.

 On the plus side, there are lots and lots of revs to spool off. Not only that, but the lack of torque matched with this car's competent rear 245/40 ZR-rated Dunlop SP Sports means there is also lots of traction. The real-life Evo II had a limited-slip differential in place, stock from the factory. It's hard to say whether Polyphony Digital knew this or not, but certainly this car drives as though it could have a softly-set LSD even before we buy one. At courses with alot of tight cornering, you'll find you can often accelerate hard out of those turns, rarely will there be too much torque-action turning into wheelspin. Which means even tho this isn't a monster motor, often you can get all its capability to pavement. Eventually a 1-way differential is needed, of course, perhaps by the time the car is equipped with Stage 2 power. Occasional wheelspin and fishtailing starts to show up otherwise. 

So far as upgrades go, there are only three levels of natural tuning. Stage 1 = 298 bhp, Stage 2 = 368 bhp, and Stage 3 = 409 top horsepower with 302 foot-pounds at best (garage stats, not track stats). And we have no turbos, unfortunately. This is probably based on some sort of real-life parts availability from the times, though it's hard to say. Certainly, this is an engine that (in the long run) could use a bit of turbo action, even though for you'll win plenty with the power at hand.

The transmission is a 5-speed that does its job and nothing more. You can depend on it thru many racing situations. Despite the torqueless feeling of the engine, I never found myself needing to buy a close transmission, even at twisty tracks like Paris (Opera or George V), Autumn Ring, or Cote d'Azur. I did get a full-custom one, but can't remember why. Anyways, the 190E 2.5-16 Evo II will make it to about 175 mph with stock gearing, meaning a full-custom racing gearbox isn't 100% necessary. 

Still, there is one other drawback unrelated to power or gearing. My biggest criticism is this engine's sound. Jesus. I mean, it sounds just like a Civic with a racing exhaust! This just isn't acceptable on PD's part...certainly they could have found a slightly modified 190 Benz somewhere, wouldn't you agree? Wouldn't necessarily have to be a an Evo II. But they didn't. The Evo II also has a racing exhaust as standard. Though this is (again) probably based on real-life, it sucks because no matter what, we are stuck with this lame, dirty engine note that is shared with lowly Civics! How dare they!

This will turn many gamers away from the Evo II, but if you can get past the sound, there are lots of good things to be found as we actually race and drive this  car around.


---------------CHASSIS / HANDLING--------------

Yes
 
Let's start with the word "yes". It's a good word, and the 190 Benz happens to love saying it. Unless you're not translating, in which case, it happens to say "ja" instead. ;)

As mentioned before, Mercedes started using SLS (patented by Citroën in the late '50s) to augment the handling of the 190E Evo I. Though this effect can't be felt in our game, here we have a proven trackmeiI3ter anyways. 

Right away, you may notice this car has a low ground clearance. It sits 105 mm while stock, which is great because it means this car has a race-ready center of gravity even before we modify it. And once we modify it, we can lower it even more. The springs are also stiff rather than wallowy (as in many production cars), limited-edition or not. While stock, they are set at 6.0 kg/mm up front and 5.5 kg/mm in the rear. That's pretty good!

But there are some "nos" to discuss (or "neins", with no German-to-English translating). Since the suspension is low its springs wound tight, bumpier tracks provide a problem. Only via racing suspension can we raise the Evo II, to a maximum height of 115 mm. Also, there is some mid-corner understeer that shows up. Though it's not very possessive, and you can avoid it by braking well and/or kicking in the throttle at the right time to garner slight oversteer, there are also times when the understeer gets the final say. But this is GT4, what else is new, right?

The most awesome thing about the Evo II is its tossability. Its grip. Its high-speed ability to point towards any curve, dip, corner, of any type and enter it successfully. Then once you're in that corner, you can just slide this car to and fro, this way and that, like a rag doll! And it complies and says "yes yes yes, sir!" This is BMW 3-series stuff for sure, the higher the push, the happier this car becomes. We are fortunate to have this rare Benz in our game.    



 

PROS-----------------------------

1). A bit of a novelty...driving a limited-edition Benz that isn't the latest product from AMG. Got that classic Benz grille with that classic Benz sedan shape, but the wing & spoiler adds a little something extra.

2). About 1,000 pounds or more lighter than many modern AMGs & Benzes found in GT4, and lighter than many other full-passenger cars with 4 seats. Full weight redux take us down to 2,510 pounds.

3). Modifyable downforce, even when stock.

4). Good, no-nonsense 5-speed transmission.

5). Three NA-tunes provide reasonable power upgrades.

6). Manueverability and stability one would expect from a German auto. Great rear-end traction. A stable car at high speeds. Some understeer, but not hoards of it. Parts such as limited-slips, better suspension, etc. can wait.

7). Low ground clearance + stern suspension coils means this is a track-ready machine early on.

8). High redline, predictable power output. This car may have "just" a 4-cylinder, but this is a 4 that's certainly doing its best.

9). The DTM race car has full-custom brakes, transmission, suspension, and limited-slip installed as stock. Weighs just 2,160 pounds, and features adjustable downforce and a 10,000 rpm redline. It does not share the awful exhaust tone of the regular Evo II.


CONS------------------------------

1). NO TURBOS can be bought after-market.

2). Rather pricey.

3). Just one color to choose from, even tho in real-life there were two.

4). Torqueless engine/lacking acceleration

5). And the SOUND it makes....ugh.

6). Suspension sits low, which makes driving on bumpier tracks and areas a chore at times.

7). "Just" 409 horses at best.

8). Stock aerodynamics cannot be replaced with an aftermarket wing (which provides better downforce).


Published: December 24, 2008 

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