In this week’s episode of Head 2 Head, our west coast editor Jason Cammisa takes the BMW E30 M3 and Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 to Germany’s famed Nurburgring, where he determines which one of the two classic European sports sedans is the coolest.
The Benz’s first race on the Grand Prix circuit was in 1984, when 20 identical 190E 2.3-1.6s were driven by F1 drivers. The winner was a newcomer named Ayrton Senna. In the end, the 190E broke three world and nine international speed records. This stirred things up in Munich, and BMW’s answer to the 190E was the M3. At the time, there was nothing (including the Benz) that could beat it around the race track.
In U.S.-spec form, both are powered by a 2.3-liter four-cylinder. While the M3 puts out 192 hp and 170 lb ft, the detuned-for-the-U.S. Mercedes makes 167 hp and 162 lb ft. But the Mercedes uses an engine was designed by Cosworth and, as Cammisa says, was over-engineered to the point of ridiculousness, like other Benz cars of the time.
Cammisa jumps into the Mercedes first, giving the four-banger’s soundtrack a thumbs-up. In the more track-oriented M3, the potency of the engine causese the interior to shake and rumble, making it not as livable as the Benz. However, Cammisa says the M3’s transmission is from the Gods, while the Benz’s is just awful.
Which does Cammisa prefer? Watch the video below to find out.