For car fans old enough to remember, November 1982, was the month Mercedes-Benz first entered the compact segment with the W201, i.e. the 190 and 190E models. Up to that point, the base model of the three-pointed star was the mid-size 200 E.
Today, it may occupy more niches than even its bean counters can remember, and more are on their way, but 30 years ago, the 190/190 E compact saloon was only the third family car, alongside the 200E and the S-Class, in Merc’s range.
The “baby Benz”, as it was known, was designed by the great Bruno Sacco, featured a multilink rear suspension and was initially available with a 2-liter petrol engine delivering 88 and 120HP in the 190 and 190 E respectively.
In 1993, the 71HP 190D four-cylinder diesel and the sporty 190 E 2.3-16, which was powered by a new 16-valve four-cylinder with 182HP, were added to the model’s range.
In the following years, the line-up of Merc’s compact saloon would grow further, reaching its peak in 1988 with the 190 E 2.5-16 – a compact sports sedan that started out with 192HP and, at the end of its development, produced up to 232HP in the Evolution models.
The 190 E stayed in production for more than 10 years, receiving two facelifts in 1988 and 1991, selling 1,879,629 units before it was replaced in 1993 by the W202, or the C-Class, as the compact sedan range has been officially named ever since.
If you scroll down, you will find a large gallery of images of the 190E, as well as some pretty interesting sketches and clay prototypes of compact sedan models stretching back to the early 1970s that Mercedes-Benz designers had been working on before they released the W201.