With the debut of the BMW M3 Sport Evolution, Mercedes’ direct competitor, it became obvious that the 2.5-16 needed a boost for the circuit. In March 1989, the 190 E 2.5-16 Evolution debuted at the Geneva Auto Show. The Evo I, as it came to be called, had a new spoiler and wider wheel arches. Many changes were made to under-the-skin components such as brakes and suspension. There was a full SLS suspension allowing vehicle ride height to be adjusted from an interior switch. All were intended to allow the Evolution cars to be even more effective round a track.
The Evo I’s output is similar to the 202 bhp (151 kW) of the “regular” 2.5-16. However this car had a redesigned engine of similar capacity but, most importantly, a shorter stroke and bigger bore which would allow for a higher rev limit and improved top-end power capabilities. Additional changes stretch to “rotating masses lightened, lubrication improved and cam timing altered”. Cosworth also list a project code “WAC” for the development of the short-stroke Evolution engine.
Only 502 units of the Evolution model were produced for homologation in compliance with DTM rules. For those customers desiring even more performance, a PowerPack option engineered by AMG was available for DM 18,000. The PowerPack option included hotter camshafts, a larger diameter throttle body, more aggressive ignition and fuel management as well as optimization of the intake and exhaust systems. The net result was an additional 30 bhp (22 kW).
In March 1990, at the Geneva Auto Show, the 190 E 2.5-16 Evolution II was shown. With the success of the first Evolution model, this model’s 502-unit production was already sold before it was unveiled. This car retailed in 1990 for USD $80,000.
The “Evo II” included the AMG PowerPack fitted to the same short-stroke 2.5 engine as the Evolution, as well as a full SLS suspension allowing vehicle ride height to be adjusted from an interior switch. An obvious modification to the Evolution II is a radical body kit (designed by Prof. Richard Eppler from the University of Stuttgart) with a large adjustable rear wing, rear window spoiler, and Evolution II 17-inch wheels. The kit served an aerodynamic purpose—it was wind tunnel tested to reduce drag to 0.29, while at the same time increasing downforce. Period anecdotes tell of BMW research and development chief, Wolfgang Reitzle, saying “the laws of aerodynamics must be different between Munich and Stuttgart; if that rear wing works, we’ll have to redesign our wind tunnel.” The anecdote claims that BMW did.
As mentioned 500 were made in “blauschwarz” blue/black metallic. But the last two, numbers 501 and 502 were made in astral silver.