Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16 vs BMW E30 M3

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.