In the early 1980s, Mercedes-Benz decided to return to motorsports after a long absence. The car they developed was the 190E 2.3-16, a sports model based on the compact 190 series; it was unveiled in 1983.
The biggest highlight of the 2.3-16 was its engine, based on a 2.2L SOHC inline-4 that Mercedes already had in production. A 16-valve DOHC head was added, and the engine was tuned by Cosworth, a company famous for its F1 engines. The resulting powerplant boasted 182 BHP maximum output and 23.1 kgfm maximum torque.
The 190E 2.3-16 with this engine began racing in the Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft (DTM) in 1986, where it fell victim to a race car's fate of endless evolutions. By 1988 the car had evolved into the 190E 2.5-16, given a bigger engine in hopes of defeating the BMW M3. With displacement enlarged to 2.5L, the engine could now make it up to 197 BHP. A DTM homologation model, known as the 190E 2.5-16 Evolution, began limited production in 1989.
Then, in 1990, Mercedes released its ultimate 2.5-16: the 190E 2.5-16 Evolution II. On looks alone, the Evolution II amazed all who saw it. Large wheel-arch extensions has been added at the front and rear to accomodate the wide 245/40ZR17 tyres, and the boot now sported a giant spoiler so big it hung over the rear end.
The engine was further tuned, boosting output up to 232 BHP. (Power was said to exceed 325 BHP in the DTM racing version.) A mere 500 of these Evolution IIs were produced during its limited run, but it toook the DTM by storm in 1992, showing its stuff against tough rivals and proving that it truly was the ultimate 190E, forged in the fires of touring car racing.