Modernised Mercedes-Benz 190E Evolution II in development

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The legendary 1990 190E Evo II road racer is set to make a modern return, with a German race team at the helm.


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A German motorsport engineering company has announced it is looking to release a modern interpretation of the 1990 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16 Evolution II sports sedan in 2025.

Based in Affalterbach, the home of Mercedes’ performance arm AMG, HWA Automotive has been involved with Mercedes-Benz motorsport since 1998. The firm’s race team has won the German DTM Championship (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) eight times and secured 11 manufacturer titles for Mercedes-Benz.

The HWA team were also responsible for the development of the road-homologated version of the Mercedes CLK-GTR racer during the brand’s Le Mans campaign.

In a post on social media, the HWA Automotive team announced the intention to redevelop a “furious reinterpretation” of the iconic 190E 2.5-16 Evolution II, as a modernised, street-legal supercar.

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Launched in 1982, the W201 Mercedes-Benz 190E was the first official ‘compact’ model from the German brand. In 1983 a performance variant that featured a Cosworth-engineered 2.3-litre 16-valve four-cylinder engine was added to the range.

In 1988, the 138kW 2.3-litre M102 engine (M102.983) was upgraded to 2.5-litres (M102.990) that saw power increase to 150kW. Many teams campaigned both the 190E 2.3-16 and 2.5-16 models in touring car series, but in 1989, against fierce competition from the BMW E30 M3, Mercedes-Benz took a more aerodynamic evolution.

Revealed at the 1989 Geneva Motor Show, the 190E 2.5-16 Evolution saw another revision to the engine (M102.991) as well as the addition of wider wheel arches and a larger rear spoiler. A total of 502 units were built for homologation compliance for the DTM touring car series.

But even this wasn’t far enough for the humble 190E.

One year later, again at the Geneva Show, Mercedes-Benz took the covers off the 190E 2.5-16 Evolution II, another 502-unit production run of an even more wild homologated racer.

Now powered by an even higher-output version of the 2.5-litre M102 (M102.992), the Evo II pushed 173kW to the rear wheels under an extreme body kit that included aerodynamic over-fenders, a roof spoiler and a gigantic adjustable rear wing.

The car had in-cabin height adjustment for the suspension and all (bar two) were painted the iconic Blauschwarz (blue-black) metallic.

Mercedes-Benz won the DTM series in both 1991 and 1992 with the 190E Evolution models.

Early sketches shared on social media show a more refined shape of the familiar 190E Evo, and according to HWA’s social media posts, the firm intends to drop the 2.5-litre M102 ‘Cosworth’ engine, and is toying with the option of the M276 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 from the AMG C43, the M159 6.2-litre naturally-aspirated V8 from the AMG SLS ‘Gullwing’ or the M139 from the AMG A45 S.

Any of these will provide the now 40-year old 190E platform with a significant increase in performance. No other technical information has been provided, but HWA note that every element of the car will be “state of the art”.

The HWA Evo will be rarer than its predecessor, with only 100 examples set to be produced at an estimated cost of €714,000 ($AU1.2 million).

This is about double the average price paid for an original 190E 2.5-16 Evolution II so far this year ($US350k or $AU530k).

James has been part of the digital publishing landscape in Australia since 2002 and has worked within the automotive industry since 2007. He joined CarAdvice in 2013, left in 2017 to work with BMW and then returned at the end of 2019 to spearhead the content direction of Drive.

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