Mercedes-Benz Ponton Type 190 sedan

Consumer's Union Review / September 1958

Tony Perodeau /
Sidney, southern Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

In 1958, CU (Consumer's Union, publisher of Consumer Reports magazine) tested a Mercedes-Benz Type 190 Ponton sedan. Its review appeared in the September issue (page 480), as follows:

"Mercedes-Benz 190, $3,431. This automobile just qualifies as a small car in length, width and engine size -- it is somewhat smaller in all three particulars than the Rambler American. It could be described as the queen of small cars, except that its virtues are the commonplace ones of quality in almost all details -- excellent seating, good riding, overall comfort, a fairly quiet engine of very modest power, a solid structure, and a geared-to-the-road feel in handling, steering and braking 100 percent of the time on any road.

Mercedes employs unit-body construction. The engine has overhead valves operated by a chain-driven overhead camshaft. There is a well-planned four-speed transmission with a column shift that was excessively hard to get into reverse. All Mercedes models -- the company's main emphasis being on road-holding rather than speed -- have independent rear suspension using swinging half-axles, located by radius rods, and coil springs. The differential is mounted on the frame -- the best construction for road-holding, but expensive. Front suspension is by wishbones and coil springs.

In terms of pickup and power, the Mercedes 190 belongs in the same class as a Plymouth 6. In terms of travel comfort related to gas mileage (which the manufacturer considers more important), it is very efficient, though rating below the Citroen. CU can recommend the Mercedes-Benz 190 sedan for anyone wishing maximum travel comfort at moderate speeds. It wins that recommendation because CU's test car proved to be an economical-running, easy-handling car without excess weight or bulk. It did not require power steering and was completely reliable in road behavior. In addition, it offers excellent ventilation and heating systems, generally good vision, and unexcelled quality of detail and finish.

To be sure, some "luxury" touches common to U.S. cars of comparable price are missing: the dashboard clock had to be wound, and the directional signals cancelled, by hand; there was no trip-mileage indicator; the dual heaters were not push-button-servo operated, and the seats moved forward and back only when powered by their occupants.

The Mercedes 190 -- or any Mercedes sedan, for that matter, is, for most people, however, an easy car to underestimate. There is nothing flamboyant about it, no gee-whiz styling or performance, no boudoir decor. But more than almost any present-day car you can name, the Mercedes provides, in all road situations, a degree of solidity, comfort and control such as can only result from thoroughgoing engineering effort applied, in this case, within the framework of a limited engine and packaging size." 

Created: November 20, 2005 / Jeff Miller

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