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A big day for my 5 speed 190E 2.3 Sportline

Posted: Tue 16 Jan, 2018 11:26 pm
by Greg in Oz
Tomorrow marks 15 years since I purchased my current daily driver, a 1990 Merc 190E 2.3 Sportline 5 speed manual. Coincidentally, on my way home from work today, it clocked 300,000km.

What a fantastic little car this has proven to be! I purchased it because back in 2003 I wanted a more economical daily (than my 1973 V8 350SLC) and this was something different for a Merc. The 190E was a big seller but the majority had a 1.8 or 2 litre four. The torquey 2.3 litre four was much less common. To have it with a 5 speed manual rather than the usual 4 speed auto is very unusual, especially in Australia. On top of that, this car has the full "Sportline" package which gave it a similar suspension and interior package to the 16 valve Cosworth models (just without the 16 valve engine). My car is reportedly the only such example in Australia having been brought here as a show car for the Sydney Motor Show back in 1990.

With it now over 27 years of age I still love driving it and, even with 300,000km on the odometer (much of that in Sydney traffic), it is still ultra reliable and doesn't noticeably use any oil between oil changes. The combination of the manual box and Sportline package makes it a much nicer driver's car than a regular 190E. I know this will upset some Merc enthusiasts, but I would go so far as to say I prefer driving it to my ex Alan Jones 1985 190E 2.3-16 Cosworth. Yes, the Cosworth is arguably more collectable and a harder-edged performance car with its higher revving 16 valve engine and close ratio dogleg shift Getrag gearbox. The 2.3 Sportline with overdrive 5 speed is however a nicer all round car and better suited as a daily driver. If they were available new today I'd buy one although I wonder what the asking price would be. This car was way more expensive in 1990 than the equivalent C-Class which replaces it today.

Here are odometer photos I snapped today and one of the car back when I purchased it. Looking forward to enjoying many more years driving this little Sportline.

Re: A big day for my 5 speed 190E 2.3 Sportline

Posted: Wed 17 Jan, 2018 12:18 pm
by Lance
Sell it to me.

Re: A big day for my 5 speed 190E 2.3 Sportline

Posted: Thu 18 Jan, 2018 9:53 am
by ngruzevs
Gorgeous car and somewhat underrated. I would love to add a 190E Sportline to my collection, even an auto would suffice.

Re: A big day for my 5 speed 190E 2.3 Sportline

Posted: Mon 22 Jan, 2018 3:37 pm
by Digger11
Looks good - does the air conditioning work ?



Re: A big day for my 5 speed 190E 2.3 Sportline

Posted: Fri 09 Feb, 2018 11:53 am
by oldmercfan
Thanks for this really informative and timely (for me) post. I am a long-time W114 fanatic, but have been looking for another car while my 72 280E is laid up. (It's off the road while I undertake the long task of sanding it back and prepping for a professional to do a top coat). I had been thinking about a W124, but after driving a couple they actually seem a bit cramped compared to my W114, so I figured I might as well set my sets on a 190E. It does seem to be a badly under-rated car and your post has fired up my enthusiasm. They are thin on the ground here in Adelaide, so it might be a bit of a waiting game.

Re: A big day for my 5 speed 190E 2.3 Sportline

Posted: Sat 10 Feb, 2018 12:08 pm
by AMG
I think the 201 in general is underrated as a car.

The stigma of it somehow not being 'a real Mercedes-Benz' , when in fact it had more $ in R&D than any other MB model before it (over 1Billion) and the longevity of the vehicles themselves simply proves that it is a far better vehicle than many are willing to acknowledge.

I also have to admit, prior to buying my first 201, I was a 'badge-snob'. If it didn't say 560, then I simply wasn't interested.
Even when I bought Lurch, there was some degree of forgiveness - at least it had a V8.

When the 124 coupe came along, I was liking the car for it's shape, interior and comfort. Not the badge - In fact, the 300 CE-24 badge was so huge, I removed it.

When the 16v fell in my lap, I was perplexed as to why I had not even considered a 190e as a daily driver.
So I bought another one.... the 2.6 that I stupidly sold to Andrew.... :Doh: :boohoo: :whistle:

Would I buy another?
In fact, I'd buy a 190e 2.6 again and again and again - the little 6 and the auto are a sweet combination - even if it makes the front a little heavy compared to the 16v.

I would buy a well-maintained M102 engined 190e - but I would prefer it as a manual - my only gripe is that MB only offered the manual as standard on the little 180e here and finding a 2.0 or 2.3 with a manual is like finding the needle in the haystack.

That's why the 16v ended up in the garage.

After years of 'getting to know' the 201, and in particular all the eccentricities of the 16v - mostly through the less fortunate way - i.e. replacing $$$$ parts, the more I learned that the standard car is just a brilliant piece of automotive engineering.

Everyone raves about the w126 as being engineered like no other car - I can vouch for the 201 as being better in many aspects - particularly in suspension design and geometry. So good, that even 40 years later, other vehicle manufacturing companies are still using the same design - with minimal changes, under their vehicles and the motoring journos are praising the handling and ride quality.... little do they know it started life under a 201.

And driving one - while they have a little more body roll than a current c class, they can easily keep up in the corners and the ride is still amazing - unlike the new models.

If one was to buy a 201, and perform the usual 'upgrades' to springs, dampers, rollbars and wheel/tyres, then the result would leave a new C far behind - whatsmore, it will still have the legendary comfortable ride the modern cars cannot seem to achieve.

I used to be a badge snob. Now when I drive the 201 and the 124 coupe, I just laugh at all the dickheads that pull up beside me in their fake AMG cars, why be a wannabe, when you can have the real thing.

It's still funny to notice the jaw-dropping droolfest when the red 560 SL comes out though... Badge snobbery still appears to prevail among the unintelligent. :occasion5:

Re: A big day for my 5 speed 190E 2.3 Sportline

Posted: Sun 25 Feb, 2018 10:56 pm
interesting post about badge snobbery... i own a w201 diesel (15 years), w201 2.6 (4 years), 560coupe (3 years)

The w201 is amazingly well designed and easy to drive any distance. the 560 is a much better car but very hard to enjoy on short suburban drives - it was made to cross countries.

I think the w201 size, turning circle and general engineering make it far better than any modern car under 40k