As old as it seems now, the Mercedes 190 was seen as a huge risk for the company because it had forged its reputation on building high end, high quality limos and sports cars. Mercedes engineers thought first turned to a smaller car in the wake of the 1973 oil crisis, which severely restricted supply to industrial nations. This shortage forced many to consider ways to reduce the west’s oil dependency on the future. Project W201 was eventually launched in 1982 after what was regarded at the time as a very long and extremely expensive development programmer. However, the W201changed the shape of the premium car with its in-depth and innovation engineering. The compact body was probably the most crash worthy of any car on sale at the time. Anti lock brakes were on the options list, as were innovations such as anti submarining seats to prevent driver sliding under the seatbelt during a collision. It was also carefully sculpted to be very aerodynamics, helping to eke out every drop of fuel. The 190 was also the first Mercedes to get the company’s restrained design language that was top prove so enduring.
The 190 also debuted Mercedes new multi link rear axle (something, in modified form, still used by Mercedes today), which gave excellent combination of handling and ride. Most of 190s had a modest 2.0 liter engine, though a 2.5 diesel was available. Highly regarded sports versions of the 190 were developed most famously with the 2.3 liter and 2.5 liter 16v four cylinder engines developed by Cosworth. A six cylinder 2.6 liter version helped establish today’s substantial market for compact executive cars with large engines.