If you were to compile a list of the greatest sports sedans ever made, what would you put at the very top?

Raise your hand if you said the BMW M3. Now, everybody, put your hands down.

But what if we told you that BMW's standard-bearer was actually created in response to a four-cylinder-powered Mercedes-Benz produced for competition that the factory didn't even want to be a part of? History books tell us that the Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 made its first major impact on the world scene when a young Ayrton Senna piloted one to victory at the Nürburgring in a promotional race in 1984.

BMW responded in 1986 with the E30 M3. It boasted more power and less weight, and the two machines did battle in touring and rally racing for the next decade. But which one is a better car?

Automobile Magazine decided to find out. One stock 190E 2.3-16 and one stock M3 (though a later Sport Evo model, making the comparo a bit lopsided) were procured in Germany and driven 'round the 'Ring. We won't spoil the video by telling you which was declared the victor, but we will tell you that host Jason Cammisa purchased one of them and shipped it home.

Scroll down below to watch the video, and to find out which machine has a new home in California.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 89 Comments
      Shaken, Not Stirred
      • 2 Years Ago
      If you're a true car guy, then there is no wrong answer here.
      Sean
      • 2 Years Ago
      This video was pretty well done...I liked the editing and the presenter wasn't that bad either. Good job.
      TrippulG3
      • 2 Years Ago
      Kind of takes the grandeur out of his decision of which one to buy when you find out that he already owns the other one.
        Wes Mantooth
        • 2 Years Ago
        @TrippulG3
        yeah i was gonna say if hes parking it next to his E30 in the driveway he obv wasnt gonna buy a second e30 regardless of which car won this comparo
      Avinash Machado
      • 2 Years Ago
      This M3 looks like a compact compared to the current M3.
        jtav2002
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Avinash Machado
        Everything 1980s looks compact to it's current iteration.
      Shanti
      • 2 Years Ago
      Am I missing something, or is this a Motor Trend camparo, and not an Automobile camparo? I mean, I know they're published by the same people, but still...
        Street King
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Shanti
        Same publisher and they run all the magazines videos through the Motor Trend YouTube Channel. Just consolodating, and it makes it far easier by only having to sub the one channel. Between MT, Drive and some others....YT is quicly leaving any reason to watch TV in the dust.
          kcroc10077
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Street King
          @Shanti You can say that again. When you think about cars and all the programming that can be developed around the industry why is it that Speed has the most inane and vapid shows?
          Shanti
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Street King
          Hmm, I see. Yeah, for U.S. viewers, YouTube has already left Speed way way behind, imo. It's awesome. Not only are we getting some decent car programs, but we can watch whatever, whenever, with almost no commercials. Wouldn't have seen that coming 10 years ago.
      Zeus
      • 2 Years Ago
      The person driving the cars had a good enough personality for the video being presented. Good video. That 190E sounds amazing for a 4 cylinder. It vaguely reminds me of the STi. Definite growl to it. I could see thinking the 190E is cooler. There is almost something cool about a fast Benz. Like a fast Volvo. Its that mis match that does it.
      m3elmo
      • 2 Years Ago
      I wonder if he actually had the opportunity to purchase both cars and at what cost? A Sports Evolution E30 M3 is very expensive, especially if it only has 13,000 miles as indicated vs. the E190. I think it came down to cost for him as to which one he purchased, not really which cars is better.
        CarCrazy24
        • 2 Years Ago
        @m3elmo
        I agree, from what I know there are only a handful of Sport Evo E30 M3's imported here to the U.S, and they would be worth well over $30k. The nicest 190E Cosworths will touch $15k at the most, and most have been beaten to hell.
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      Justin Campanale
      • 2 Years Ago
      This video is complete crap. The M3 beats the 190E in every possible aspect. Better driver's car, better handling, better performance, more fun to drive. He bought the 190E because it was "better to live with"? Don't make me laugh. There is absolutely no reason to buy the 190E over the M3. Don't get me wrong, the 190E is a decent car, but performance wise it just can't match up to the M3. It's more of a comfy luxury car with a powerful engine than a real performance car. Although, with the states of MB's cars nowadays, with MB cost cutting the crap out of their cars, I would take the 190E over any current MB in a heartbeat. The way BMW has hinted it might go, saying it will introduce FWD cars and taking out all the fun from their cars, I would probably take the 190E over the upcoming batch of BMWs as well. BTW, why didn't the test include the Audi Ur-Quattro and the Ford Sierra Cosworht? Those were also amaing homologation racecars back in the day. I'd take the Quattro and maybe even the Cosworth over the M3, even though I'm a former E30 M3 owner.
        Tina Dang
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Justin Campanale
        Ahh Justin, our favorite anti-Benz troll. At least this time you gave Benz some credit. Get over it JC, BMW cannot win every comparison.
        Alex
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Justin Campanale
        This is completely true, I don't know why people are downvoting this. I own a 190E and it's nothing that special. Yeah it makes a sort of cool noise, but it's not as nice as the insane induction noise from the E30 M3. Yeah, it's somewhat sporty and rides nicely, but it's nowhere near as fast or as capable around turns, sliding or gripping. The transmission is just doggone weird with first down, and the shifts aren't as nice. The steering feel isn't as nice and the chassis/suspension isn't as focused
          miammt
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Alex
          what model e190 do you own? i bet it's not the 2.3-16, so quit barking dog
          Javanese
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Alex
          Completely missing the point. M3 is a product of the Motorsport division while the 2.3 is a "special" model, its not that radically different than the off the mill 190e. The fairer comparison to the M3 Sport Evo would be the 190e Evo1 and Evo2.
        David J. Bernstein
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Justin Campanale
        Ah Justin, the local Benz hater. Good to see him talking about cars which he's never driven of course. Oh, and if you've driven a 190 Mercedes or E30 BMW, then please be aware that these cars in this video are not your standard 190 or E30s.
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        ticklmecho
        • 2 Years Ago
        Nice try troll.
          • 2 Years Ago
          @ticklmecho
          [blocked]
        ShutoSteve
        • 2 Years Ago
        And a well educated man would run circles around you.
          • 2 Years Ago
          @ShutoSteve
          [blocked]
          ShutoSteve
          • 2 Years Ago
          @ShutoSteve
          I've got you beat education wise junior. I'm a resident surgeon. So let's get at it then. The truth is, you shouldn't be advocating electric cars on an octane fueled site. I mean that with the utmost respect, since so many people say negative things towards you. Maybe you should comment on an electric car site? I don't think this is the site for you. Regards.
          csgill75
          • 2 Years Ago
          @ShutoSteve
          Dan isn't well liked just about anywhere he goes, Steve. Do a quick Google search on his name and you will find http://www.evdl.org/archive/index.html#nabble-td432910 where he was in trouble for his rant's before as well as being banned from other forums. He is just looking for attention.
        Justin Campanale
        • 2 Years Ago
        Shut up.
        k_m94
        • 2 Years Ago
        The only thing bigger than the level of wrong in your posts is your ego. I bet even Elon Musk would think you're a dick and an idiot.
        ckm
        • 2 Years Ago
        Sure, for about 100 miles, then it would need to be towed or charged for 8 hours.... Never mind a new battery pack at 100k miles.... I very much doubt that any currently produced electric will be anything but a static museum display in 30 years, unlike this cars which are still usable. Besides, you do realize that every electric/hybrid currently produced comes with 100k miles of emissions built in, never mind horrific environmental damage - all due to battery production..... I like EVs, I even built one and I'm on the board of a company that makes one. That doesn't mean they are they answer to everything, just like a hammer is not the answer to every problem.
      ShiftItManual
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'm glad I watched that video. I'm sad to say that before now I didn't really know anything about the 190E 2.3-16.
      viper3ez
      • 2 Years Ago
      of course, Mercedes builds better cars without the BMW flare. think about any older generation S-class versus a similar generation & series. both rulers of their teams but Mercedes always was the better
        Val
        • 2 Years Ago
        @viper3ez
        Mercedes used to have extremely high standards for build quality, but they slipped at one point, which allowed audi to enter the scene with their aggressive marketing and pricing. These days I think BMWs are built equal to mercedes, whether 3,5 or 7 series.
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