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Old 05-28-2003, 08:32 PM
fz500sel's Avatar
Happy now in paradise!
Join Date: Nov 1999
Location: Venice, FL - "sharktooth capital of the world"
Posts: 712
190E 2.6 or 190E 2.3-16V?

I'm comtemplating the purchase of either a 91-93 190E 2.6 or the 190E 2.3-16V cosworth. Anybody have any opinions or comments on them? Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks fellas,
85 300D 310K (sold)
90 350SDL 184K sold
83 300D 118K (sold)
88 300E 153k (sold)
93 400E 105K (sold)
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Old 05-28-2003, 08:39 PM
sixto's Avatar
smoke gets in your eyes
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: SF Bay Area
Posts: 18,745
Power is supposedly a wash but you can't get the dogleg first gear or handling of a 16V in a 2.6.

I think the 16V has 4 place seating only if that's a concern.

I've yet to see a 16V for sale that wasn't driven hard and shows it, but I don't look at all the ones that come up for sale.

91 300SE
87 300SDL
83 300SD
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Old 05-28-2003, 09:19 PM
Senior Canadian Member
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: British Columbia, Canada
Posts: 827
2.6 is a more comfortable car to drive with a silky smooth 6-cyl.

the 16v is, in essence, race-bred and it shows. the ride is a bit stiffer and the 4 cylinder, twin-cam, solid lifter engine is very buzzy.

it all comes down to what your preference is. the 16v is an edgier car in all respects but a blast to drive.

with a few judicious suspension and performance mods, the 2.6 could probably give the 16v quite a run for its money.

good ones 16vs DO exist. you just have to be patient in your search. check out for more W201 specific info.
'94 W124.036 249/040 leder; 8.25x17 EvoIIs
'93 W124.036 199/040 leder; 8.25x17 EvoIIs, up in flames...LITERALLY!
'93 W124.036 481/040 leder; euro delivery; 8.25x17 EvoIIs
'88 R107.048 441/409 leder; Euro lights
'87 W201.034 199/040 leder; Euro lights; EvoII brakes; 8x16 EvoIs - soon: 500E rear brakes
'70 R113.044 050/526; factory alloys; Euro lights
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Old 05-28-2003, 10:01 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Southern California
Posts: 2,010
The 16V is a little quicker than the 2.6, but the primary difference is gearing. From about 80 MPH it's close to a wash (as is top speed), but better acceleration from lower speeds is more useful. With equal gearing low speed acceleration would probably be a wash. Mercedes intentionally installed a small 103 engine and tall gears in the 201 so it would be slower than the 16V and 300E. The ultimate Merc would be a 190E 3.0 with the 16V direct drive five speed and a 3.07 axle. I seriously thought about doing this a few years ago, but decided it wasn't worth the cost, but boy, what a sleeper because it would look absolutely stock/original to the unsuspecting eye.

Keep in mind that the 16V is a more maintenance intensive engine with shim under bucket valve adjustment, which requires removing the cams to change shims, and MB recommends a lash check every 15K miles. The hydraulic lifters on the six are maintenance free. It's also my understanding the the 16V rear leveling system is problamatic and very expensive to repair.

If you can find a 2.6 with a manual transmission it's a pretty sweet and smooth package, especially if you do a lot of touring. As previously stated, the 16V is edgier and would be a quicker canyon carver. My 2.6 five-speed is a pretty decent back road athlete, and I can also drive 1000 miles in a day in perfect comfort and not feel beat-up after 16+ hours of driving with nothing but fuel stops and a quick lunch break.

After my '87 2.6 five-speed order was rejected by MB when they decided not to offer a five-speed after initially announcing it would be available, my dealer offered me the 16V on their showroom floor at a substantial discount. Had it been red (16Vs were never available in Signal Red in the US) I might have done it, but decided to wait until 1988. Fortunately, the 2.6 with a five-speed was offered as a special order option, so I ordered it, took delivery, and never looked back.

At Starfest '92 the 16Vs had their way with me on the drag strip due to their shorter gearing and LSD, which allowed them a hole shot. In the autocross two would have beaten me, one by less than two-tenths on a one minute course, and I think the winning car was modified as it had a two second advantage. On the two minute road racing course I would have just barely missed fifth place. As it was, after expecting to be classified with the 16Vs they broke the six attending 2.6s into a separate class, and being as how I was the only guy with a five-speed and racing experience, it was pretty much a rout.

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Old 05-28-2003, 10:10 PM
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Although pretty rare, a 5-Speed 2.6 Sportline model would be a nice compromise. Smooth six in a very cramped engine bay, lower ratio steering box and wheel, just slightly lowered with upgrades to the sway bars and the sport seating front and rear.
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Old 05-28-2003, 10:41 PM
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Location: ajax, ontario, canada
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a 5spd manual 2.6 is probably rarer than a 2.3-16 (probably as rare as a 2.3-16 automatic?)

a (non-Sportline) 2.6 can easily be given a chassis upgrade, although its heavier nose will prevent it from matching the 2.3-16 in handling.

the 2.6 is a sleeper, being devoid of wings and aero aids.

the 2.6 will probably have a lower insurance premium.
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Old 05-29-2003, 04:36 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 627
190E choices

I'm a fan of the M103 (as in our 300TE) for its smoothness and quietness but when I saw a very rare 1990 190E 2.3 Sportline 5-speed manual advertised early this year I couldn't resist. I was not even looking to buy another car. Obviously it doesn't have the performance of the 2.3-16 or the 2.6 but I must admit I am impressed with the flexibility of the 2.3-8V and the good use it makes of the relatively tall geared manual (3,000 at 120km/h or 75 mph). This allows for smooth and quiet cruising and being a late model it also has the dual mass flywheel to improve smoothness. The Sportline package gives well bolstered leather seats for four only, leather wheel and shift knob, and sharp steering with brilliant handling (assisted by the 7" rims with 205/55 rubber). I have given it a spirited drive against another club member's 2.3-16 and there was nothing in it in handling. He had my measure in acceleration and up hills though. Don't rule out the 2.3-8v if you find a really tidy one or a Sportline (especially a manual). I am really enjoying mine. In the few months I've had it I have already done over 5,000km including a 2,000km return interstate trip. I also like the less crowded engine bay (since I'm the one who will be doing all the work in there). The insurance rates are also reasonable, unlike a 2.3-16.
107.023: 350SLC, 3-speed auto, icon gold, parchment MBtex (sold 2012 after 29 years ownership).
107.026: 500SLC, 4-speed auto, thistle green, green velour.
124.090: 300TE, 4-speed auto, arctic white, cream-beige MBtex.
201.028: 190E 2.3 Sportline, 5-speed manual, arctic white, blue leather.
201.028: 190E 2.3, 4-speed auto, blue-black, grey MBtex.
201.034: 190E 2.3-16, 5-speed manual, blue-black, black leather.
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Old 05-29-2003, 12:57 PM
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Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: ajax, ontario, canada
Posts: 773
another tradeoff of the 2.6 vs the 2.3-16 is that the 2.6 has a higher rotational mass than the 2.3-16, which, coupled with its widely-spaced ratios (5spd manual), makes for less sporty shifting than the 2.3-16 (lower rotational mass and close-ratio gearing).

i'm a fan of the inline-6 though. You know that because of its inherent balance, the engine components are not subjected to undue stresses at any rpm. This knowledge, coupled with the smooth sound it makes, is very confidence-inspiring.

of course, the 2.3-16 makes more sporting sounds ...

the ultimate for me would be a manual C36 ...
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