This update should be beginning with a smug account of how the 190E now fires on the key in sub-zero temperatures, but as much as I'd love that to be the case, it isn't quite there. Indeed, there's more work to be done in this department.
That's not to say there hasn't been some progress. I sourced a new coolant temperature sensor and swapped this myself - a very simple job - and the situation seems to improved slightly. Instead of multiple turns of the key before catching, it now (usually) catches on the first turn, but settles to a very lumpy idle before quickly warming through.
So, it suggests the problem might be more than just the sensor, and that's exactly what I said to mechanic Jamie at Simply Automotive in Poole as he heaved open the 190E's bonnet, looked through outstretched arms at its puny 1.8 and sucked his teeth. Clearly, I'd driven it to him, so a cold start wasn't possible, but we did dismantle the airbox and get to the fifth injector, which was working just fine.
After various circuit checks and with little else we could do there and then, I booked the car in to be left with him for a longer period in a couple of months and jumped back on Google. Another possible cause seemed to be the car's over voltage protection (OVP) relay, its 10 amp fuse often blowing and not providing enough oomph when it's most needed. Of course, there are also question marks surrounding the fuel lines, pump and filter, all of which will be assessed soon.
But let us not be too concerned with such a trivial issue - what about how the 190 performed on a trip down to Dorset? The answer: an absolute dream. With the engine and gearbox warm, the 190, even in its entry-level 1.8-litre automatic form, felt completely relaxed up at motorway limits, its ride improving even further with speed.
And, as my phone's sat-nav revealed the M3 was backing up and diverted me first onto the A303, then onto the fast-flowing A354 south of Salisbury and finally the snaking B3078 out of Cranbourne, the 190E's handling was called into question. You'd probably imagine my bias would lead to glowing descriptions of bewildering agility and involvement, but in fact, it feels very much like the 24-year-old car it is. The new Avon tyres offered decent grip at around seven-tenths on Wiltshire's slimy surfaces, but the car's steering and body control were far less assured.
There's more good news, though. For many years, it seems, the poor car had been parked using its wheel trims, rather than its mirrors, as guides, and they were a real mess. So, while I was in Poole, I thought I'd drop them into Trimtek who, for £100, sanded them down and resprayed them. I think you'll agree from the pictures above, they did a brilliant job.