Why The Mercedes 190 E 2.5-16 Evo II Is The Best Looking Car Ever

The name is ridiculously long, but we'll excuse that for its epically aggressive styling
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Here at CT we have a nicely varied selection of motoring soft spots. You just have to look at our Car of the Year nominations to see that the spice of life is particularly spicy at CT HQ. Being the narcissistic writers that we are we like to tell you what we ‘know’ the best looking car ever is, whether you like it or not. Ollie recently made a case for the 288 GTO while Alex tagged the Audi Sport Quattro into the ring with him.

They’re both wrong. Now, anybody who knows me knows I have a penchant for fast saloons. There is something special about an aggressively styled load lugger that can keep pace with Ollie’s surrogate crotch. Which is where the Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.5-16 Evolution II comes in. I mean the name alone is a winner.

The 190 Evo II was introduced in 1990 as a direct competitor to the dominant BMW E30 M3. Homologation specials are always cool as a factory ‘race car for the road’ always will be, but Merc’s determination to thrash the Beemer led them to fairly drastic measures. I could sit here and bang on about the 2.5 litre Cosworth-tickled engine that produces 235bhp in a car that could do the school run, but this is about styling. And that is where this thing comes into its own.

My God, does this thing have presence. The boxy roof line that shoots off at right angles along the bonnet, skipping merely inches from the top of the wheel arches. The front grille and headlights are imposing enough to be a Mafia getaway car, the three pointed star acting like a crosshair as you cut down dawdling traffic. The straight edged side sills that cut along the doors could seat four small children before curving up to that pinched rear. And that spoiler. It looks like every boy racer’s wet dream; big, bold and unashamedly brash, it is the perfect symbol for this DTM-esque brute.

And this is before we take in that profile. Has a car ever looked so purposeful? It looks hunched like a Big Cat preparing to pounce, head down, arse up, ready to unleash its awesome power. This angle also reveals just how pronounced the front splitter is and perhaps it does look a little silly, but we also see the barely contained rear spoiler leaking over the car’s extremities. I miss cars like this. Cars that are just so shouty that it can’t even contain its imposing majesty.

These days cars are designed to be aerodynamically slippery, making as little impression on its surroundings as possible. While this is excellent for your wallet (increased efficiency) and high speed shenanigans (less drag), it seems to make less impression on the heart. Even the new McLaren P1′s curves just look a little wet by comparison. Screw the environment, bring back the box.

Finally, here’s a little gift from me to you. Hectic DTM action to an electro-German-pop soundtrack. Winning!

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  • Tod

    This and the Gullwing are the only Mercs I like. Would love to have one, couldn’t agree more on the styling, it’s the mutt’s nuts!


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