It was the epitome of the nerd and as narrow as a row house in the new development. But no other mercedes series in the eighties sold as well as the 190E. Because as a Baby-Benz, the small limousine not only kept the frugal seniors on the line, but also introduced a whole host of new customers to the brand: “Boring but successful,” one should actually write in the 190's biography - if it was because there would not have been exactly 1.004 cars that were anything but boring. Because in order to revamp the image of the series a little, Mercedes had trimmed the philistine for athletes and sent it into the DTM from 1989. And because the regulations provided for so-called homologation models, the Swabians not only had to build the company cars for men like Johnny Cecotto, Klaus Ludwig or Roland Asch and women like Ellen Lohr, but also had to put at least 500 cars on the road each season.
They had it all: where the base model was initially 90 and later 118 HP, the 190 E 2.5-16 Evolution from 1989 attracted 195 HP and a top speed of 230 km / h. And when the Evolution II was launched the following year, the philistinism was completely over: with 235 hp and a top speed of 250 km / h, this black wing striker whirled up so much dust that even Porsche customers sometimes did it could cloud the senses.
It is also thanks to cars like the two Evos that the C-Class is 25 years later more distant from the philistine image than ever. On the outside as passionately drawn as a CLS and on the inside almost as luxuriously designed as an S-Class, the former Baby-Benz has long been recognized as a full-value Mercedes - and is now making the next change of course. These days, the Swabia sedan and station wagon are also being launched for the first time as a plug-in hybrid: powered by a tandem consisting of a four-cylinder with 211 hp and an electric machine of 82 hp and with a 6,4 kWh Fitted with a battery, this power socket comes in the best case at a standard consumption of 2,1 liters, making it the most economical combustion engine in the entire Mercedes portfolio.
A superlative is not a bad selling point per se. But because the plug-in is not a bargain at a basic price of 50.962 euros, the Swabians don't want to rely solely on the great appeal of a small consumption value. They spice up reason with a good dose of pleasure and also praise the C 350 e as a dynamist. Because if you only give the electronics the right directing instructions, it can optimize the propulsion instead of the consumption when the two motors work together, and the saver actually becomes an athlete who can even compete with the 1990 Evo II.
At the wheel, it doesn't take much more than pressing the agility control switch: as soon as you switch from "E" like Economy to Sport Plus mode, the tenacious feeling in the accelerator pedal has disappeared, and the gentle counter pressure also makes it notorious Raising lead feet for moderation. Instead, the limousine tenses the muscles, sharpens their senses and literally craves a courageous kick. After all, the two engines in the team not only achieve 279 hp, but also 600 Nm, which are literally easy to play even with the excess weight of the battery: from 0 to 100 in 5,9 seconds and a top speed of 250 km / h without batting an eyelid twitching - no wonder that series head Christian Früh sees the C 350 e in the tradition of the black knight from the DTM era. Especially since the hybrid drive has long been socially acceptable since it was used in Formula 1.
On paper, the C 350 e is even the sportier car and stands out from the ancestors of the PS quartet in every category. Because apart from the identical top speed, the new model has the better values across the board: 279 instead of 235 hp, 600 instead of 245 Nm and 5,9 instead of 7,1 seconds for acceleration from 0 to 100 km / h. In practice, however, things look a little different - not only because the C-Class wears a fine tuxedo today, while the 190er with its wide fenders and huge rear wing appears as exuberantly as Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime and therefore every other car simply steals the show.
Also because of the inner values: Because where the C 350 e looks cool and clinical and the emotions get stuck somewhere in the depths of the electronics, the 190 Evo ignites with the first gas burst a blazing fire that can hardly be extinguished. Of course you can drive the C 350 e with your little finger and instead have to grab hard with the Evo. And of course, sport in a 25-year-old street-legal racing car is a sweaty affair. But that is exactly why the old athlete looks so authentic that you can hardly slow down and certainly do not want to get out of it - even if after half an hour the clutch foot gets heavy, your hands burn and your back hurts in the unusual tight leather shells.
Just like today in the C-Class, the chassis can be adjusted at the push of a button, but in the tightest stage it is really hard as a rock. And the steering is so direct for the first time in the 190s that you just want to know and explore the limits of man and machine a little more precisely with each meter. In any case, you can hardly drive this car slowly and chastely. Certainly not with the standard sports transmission. This not only has first gear where it should be for a racing car, namely at the bottom left. Above all, it is translated so briefly that you actually want to shift through to second and then third gear. But that is a mistake. Because in order for something to really happen, the four-cylinder engine needs speed - and lots of it.
Among 3, 000 tours still tame, as you would not expect from Baby-Benz and unusually quiet for a sports car, the Black Knight becomes a beast when the speed jumps up: impetuously, roughly and above all roaringly loud he sticks away and stamps the C 4 e into a fast nerd. Who needs an electric shock when they can have an adrenaline rush?
Author: Benjamin Bessinger / SP-X