30 years of the Mercedes-Benz compact class (W 201 model series)

30 years of the Mercedes-Benz compact class (W 201 model series)

  • Premiere celebrated in November 1982
  • The new compact class sets standards
  • Clear design and advanced technology

Stuttgart – At the end of November 1982, Mercedes-Benz presented the 190 and 190 E models from the W 201 model series to the press. The compact and technologically groundbreaking saloon supplemented the Mercedes-Benz passenger car product line with a third model series, alongside the mid-range series and the S-Class. With this step towards a broader model series portfolio, the 190/190 E clearly showed the way forward into the future of the entire brand. This is because it not only marked the start of the segment designated internally within the company as the compact class, which subsequently came to bear the designation C-Class from 1993 with the launch of the W 202 series. In fact, with this fresh and advanced saloon, it also marked the start of the great model offensive from Mercedes-Benz.

Some 30 years after making their premiere, the saloons of the W 201 model series continue to demonstrate their strengths to impressive effect: to this day, their clear lines still delight with their timeless modernity. In retrospect, the vehicle technology too has also been characterised by a host of innovative ideas and concepts.

Besides the modern design, for which Bruno Sacco was responsible, the affectionately named “Baby Benz” as the 190 model was known also scored well in terms of its high degree of passive safety and modern suspension technology, good aerodynamics and intelligent lightweight design. Among other features, Mercedes-Benz specifically developed and patented independent multilink rear suspension for the 190, in which each rear wheel is supported by five independent links, thus helping to ensure equally high levels of ride comfort and handling precision.

190 E 2.5-16 Evolution II (1990)

Designers and engineers drove the compact class even further forward into the future with two model facelifts in 1988 and 1991. More than 10 years after the market launch, in February 1993 the Sindelfingen plant ceased production of the first generation of the compact class. The 190-models continued to be produced in the Bremen plant until August, mainly for export. The total number of vehicles produced – some 1,879,629 – reflects to impressive effect the resounding success which the new compact class enjoyed for the brand. In May 1993, Mercedes-Benz presented the C-Class (W 202 series) as the successor to the “Baby-Benz.”


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