Features

50 years of AMG – history and best cars of the Mercedes tuner and race team - Mercedes-Benz 190E 3.2 AMG

We drive four of AMG’s most significant cars to chart the history of the marque

Mercedes-Benz 190E 3.2 AMG

As AMG became more successful on the track its road cars got more attention. A prime candidate to be fettled and tweaked by AMG was the road-going four-cyliner 16-valve 190E, and it provided a power pack that increased the output of the 2.5-16 and Evolution I model’s engine. But it didn’t limit itself to just the four-cylinder car, and in true AMG style, it found a way of squeezing as big an engine as possible into the small saloon. The result was the 190E 3.2 AMG, fitted with a 234bhp 3.2-litre straight-six – an engine a whole 0.6-litre bigger than the one Mercedes thought appropriate. This was the first time an AMG was sold directly from Mercedes dealerships, too, perfectly complementing the company’s new on-track partnership

Few things about the 190E 3.2 AMG scream that this is a performance car; there’s no overtly aggressive styling and none of the dramatic noises that sporty modern cars have conditioned us to think necessary.

Subscribe to evo magazine

Subscribe today to our exclusive new offer and SAVE 39% on the shop price, get evo for its original cover price of £3.00 an issue, plus get a FREE gift worth £20!

But, at your first opportunity to feel the 190’s performance you realise its sombre, subtle appearance and muffled sound are perfectly suited to its approach to thrills. The acceleration is tranquil and the engine revs slowly and smoothly. Much of that lack of urgency is down to the frustratingly unresponsive automatic gearbox; it seems to want to hold onto gears unless you jab the throttle severely. That’s not an action that usually feels appropriate in a rear-wheel drive saloon, instead wanting to feed the power in more sedately, but the AMG simply isn’t potent enough for you to need to worry about being ruthless with the accelerator. And, any real aggression is absorbed by the masses of body roll the suspension allows. On a circuit is certainly not the 190E AMG’s natural habitat.

What can be said for the 3.2 AMG is just how refined it is; what it lacks in aggression it makes up for in serenity. Wind and engine noise is surprisingly low for a car from 1988, while the soft suspension helps create a very plush ride. It would make a pleasant autobahn cruiser, and once you’d got it up to speed it would be easy to maintain a decent pace.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement
Advertisement

Most Popular

Visit/koenigsegg/202316/1700bhp-koenigsegg-gemera-four-seat-gt-shown-in-new-images
Koenigsegg

1700bhp Koenigsegg Gemera four-seat GT shown in new images

A mid-engined, plug-in hybrid two-door four seater is Koenigsegg’s vision of the ultimate GT
9 Apr 2020
Visit/saloons/202421/supersaloon-face-off-old-vs-new
Saloons

BMW M5 F90 vs E28 M5, RS6, E500 and Lotus Carlton: supersaloons old vs new

From the first to the very latest, we take a dive into the history of the supersaloon with the 1985 BMW M5 E28 and other classics taking on today's mo…
4 Apr 2020
Visit/honda/nsx/202424/honda-nsx-review-enough-to-take-on-its-european-rivals
Honda NSX

Honda NSX review - enough to take on its European rivals?

Honda’s supercar is immensely capable and startlingly fast, but it’s easier to respect than it is to love
6 Apr 2020
Visit/hyundai/i30-n-hatchback/201775/hyundai-i30-n-versus-hyundai-i30-tcr
Hyundai i30 N hatchback

Hyundai i30 N versus Hyundai i30 TCR

Can Dickie Meaden beat Steve Sutcliffe in a straight(ish) race? We sent them to the Circuit Nuvolari with a pair of Hyundai i30 Ns to find out.
20 Sep 2019