The Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5 16v Evo 2 was the ultimate version of the racing 190E developed by Mercedes under Group A rules. Group A was a new set of regulations introduced in 1982 by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile or FIA (motorsports governing body which is headquartered in Paris) relating to production car derived race and rally cars. Initially under Group A rules, to homologate a car for competition a manufacturer had to build 5000 roadgoing versions of the proposed racing car in one year. Many great cars resulted from this requirement such as the original BMW M3, the Ford Sierra Cosworth, the Nissan Skyline GT-R R32 and of course the Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3 16v and later the 2.5 16v. Many stock parts from the production car had to be used in the racing versions such as the dashboard and the interior door panels, plus any aerodynamic aids such as front air splitters and rear wings had to have been added to the 5000 production cars.
From 1982 until 1994 Group A eligible cars dominated Touring car racing, usually split into three categories according to engine size, division 1 for cars under 1600cc, division 2 for cars between 1600-2500cc and division 3 for those with engines over 2500cc. Group A rules also allowed for further development of any particular homologated car through a regulation permitting "Evolution" models to be produced. In order to introduce significant changes to a car such as a new aerodynamic package or a new engine, a further 500 "Evo" versions had to be produced instead of a whole new run of 5000 cars (which many manufacturers would find hard to sell, especially those by manufacturers that did not have a record of selling performance versions of their car). From 1991, the 5000 minimum requirement to homologate a new car was dropped to 2500 cars a year, but those 2500 would have to represent 10% of all versions of the car made that year (for example 2500 Subaru Turbo Imprezas would have to be made out of 25000 of all Imprezas made in one year). Evolution versions (still with a requirement to build 500) were still allowed.
Mercedes-Benz wished to develop their new (in 1982) 190E for use as a racing car and for use in international rallying. Without four wheel drive it was found that a rally version would not have been competitive so instead Mercedes concentrated on developing the new 190 into a competitive touring car, mostly for the German Touring Car Championship (then known as the DTM). They turned to Cosworth to develop a new engine for the car. The renowned tuning firm took the 2.3 litre four cylinder, 8 valve engine used in existing Mercedes such as the 230E and developed a new 16 valve cylinder head for it (hence making it a 4 valve per cylinder engine). Lighter pistons and a lightweight cast alloy cylinder block were also features of the new Cosworth version of the older Mercedes engine. The result was a lighter engine which had a much higher rate of revolutions and hence produced around 185bhp in standard roadgoing trim compared to the 136bhp produced by the standard engine.
The Group A and N versions of the 2.3 16v 190E were homologated in 1985 and it's first full season in the DTM followed in 1986. (Group N was similar to Group A regulations, but the race cars were much closer to the standard road car in specification). Race versions of the 2.3 produced around 300bhp. They proved competitive, but failed to win any championships against the faster M3s and Sierra Cosworths.
In 1988 a 2.5 litre version of the performance 190E was introduced increasing power output to around 200bhp. This formed the basis of the first "Evolution" model, the Evo I launched in 1989. 502 were built, enough to satisfy the rule makers. The racing version of the Evo I produced approximately 330bhp and in 1989 won eight DTM races (while Ford and BMW won seven races each) but narrowly missed out on winning the drivers championship that year.
1989 saw the introduction of the Evo II with a remarkable rear wing that in competition proved very competitive indeed. A further 502 were built to homologate the competition version. The race version produced 373bhp when it first raced in 1990, but the new version suffered teething troubles and Mercedes could do no better than 3rd in the constructors championship. 1991 was more successful with a win in the constructors championship, but the drivers championship went to Frank Biela in an Audi V8. 1992 proved to be the best year yet for the car, with Klaus Ludwig winning the drivers championship and Mercedes the constructors championship.
The car shown here was used by 1982 F1 champion Keke Rosberg in the 1992 DTM championship. He finished 5th overall in the final points standings that year, with another Mercedes driver Klaus Ludwig winning the championship ahead of him. The livery on this particular car is very interesting indeed. It was sponsored by the campaign to hold the Olympics in Berlin for the year 2000. Ultimately they were unsuccessful as the Olympics that year were held in Sydney, but their logo looked terrific! The smiling yellow bear was chosen as a mascot as the symbol for the city of Berlin is a bear. The car also was covered in the signatures of many notable personalities within German sport at the time.
This superb looking model is one of my favourite AUTOart releases for some time. Ever since the introduction of their JGTC Nissan Skyline line in 2003, AUTOart have persisted in releasing most of their motorsport range as sealed models. Hence no engine detail and no opening doors. This has not been a universally popular move among most collectors, who for most find 1:18th scale appealing thanks to the amount of detail and opening parts this larger scale affords over most smaller models such as 1:43rd scale replicas. The new range of racing 190Es introduced in 2005 thankfully have full opening features and detailed engines, just like all AUTOarts did prior to 2003.
Unfortunately I'm not able to properly review this model and rate it accordingly as of right now (August 2006) all my models are packed away in storage awaiting a house move. As soon as the dust settles from the move I hope to get this model out of storage and add an accurate ratings scale to this review.