There was a time when cars looked like cars, the kind of car you’d draw as a kid – upright grille, bonnet, square roofline and bootlid. Simple but effective. Ok, so you might progress to sketching something a little more Ferrari-looking over time, but those early renderings often had distinctive box-like proportions.
And rightly so. Sometimes it feels a bit wrong to like a boxy car – if you’ve ever looked at a Volvo T5 admiringly then you know what that feels like. But there’s a simple beauty in boxy cars, that even a child recognises. In fact, some rare and iconic cars flew against the desire for aerodynamic beauty, like the Lancia Integrale or Audi Quattro… and try finding a car fan who doesn’t use the words ‘stunning’ or ‘beautiful’ when describing them.
Yet, despite people swooning over curvy lines or only admitting a love of boxiness when faced with the vaunted heroes of boxiness (where only the ultimate models made a real impact on the world), there are two everyday heroes that define square proportions like no other; the BMW E30 3-series and the Mercedes 190e.
While they both had their ‘hero’ models, the E30 M3 and the Mercedes 190e Evolution…
…and they both had a bit of a ‘track record’…
…which of these cars that thought inside the box is cooler? Not just the wild Evolution models, but as a range from cooking-spec models upwards?
The BMW E30 3-series:
or the Mercedes 190e:
Both offered rear wheel drive and that certain austere flare that German cars had in the 1980s/ early 90s. They’ve both been driven by people from all walks of life and offered estate versions for the family man. And in the tuning world, the less exotic spec versions of each model have been given some incredible makeovers.
So, if you had to pick the greatest box-like car from between the two models, considering their top spec models and motorsport heritage right down to their base versions and the modifications people have done to them; which one is cooler?