The sedate, broad-shouldered shape of a Mercedes-Benz sedan has always been synonymous with quality, durability and superior engineering. Nowadays, customers are more likely to associate this sedateness and conservative body shape with that of a Toyota Camry, while Mercedes has pursued ever sleeker, edgier and more swooping body forms.

As the brand finally emerges from its build-quality blip, it clearly intends to help customers recall its sedans of years gone past. Meet the 2010 Mercedes E-class -” now in both sedan and coupe.

The new W212 E-class makes no bones about being a classic, conservative sedan. To that end, it wears squared-off sheet metal, an upright roof, and creased -˜pontoon’ wheel arches -” reminiscent of the E-Class of the 1950s. The new car also goes to greater lengths to accentuate its distinctive Mercedes styling elements, particularly its broad chrome grill and dual headlights.

Ironically, these details have been so widely imitated by other auto makers that even on a real Mercedes they come off a bit generic. It’s more in the overall profile that the E-class comes off as genuinely German in a way no other brand can quite capture.

The E-Class coupe is a little less conservative, a classic two-door joins its sedan sibling under the German marque’s famous E-Class badge. Previously known as the popular CLK-Class coupe, this stunning two-door model returns to the rank of E-Class after more than 10 years from the CLK.

The E-Class coupe comes with a drag coefficient of .24 (.01 less than the sedan), making it the world’s most aerodynamically efficient series production car.

Inside these new models the hip-to-be-square trend continues. Gone are the current model’s attempts at being avant-garde and organic, now the dash is more severe, accentuated with panelling and mood lighting, the result of which is very impressive. Of course, it’s far from retro, as it receives a host of technology from the S- and CL-class, including the column-mounted direct select shifter in sedan only, and a now standard command controller.

The new car also gets plenty of advanced safety features. The new E-Class is based on a comprehensive safety concept, making it arguably the safest car in its class -” 150 in-house crash tests and 17,000 crash simulations all help.

Active safety features are extensive and see innovative technologies appearing for the first time. These include the car knowing when you’re getting tired at the wheel (you get chimes and steering wheel shakes), when an object is in your blind spot (flashing red triangles appear in your side mirrors) or you stray across the road lines (shaking steering wheel).

It gets a bit spooky, though, when you head towards an object, not at breakneck speed, and the car stops by itself,your foot only hovering over the brake pedal (the car has stopped and you haven’t hit anything).

Both models are available in V6 and V8 petrol variants with a 2.2-litre blueEFFICIENCY diesel and 1.8-litre direct injection petrol engine added later in the year for the coupe, while sedan includes a further two more diesel variants.

In this day and age we have come to expect price rises with the launch of new models. With the new E-class sedan, Mercedes-Benz has reversed this trend.

The new entry point E 220 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY is priced more than 10 percent below the previous entry level E 200 Kompressor, and the impressive 500Nm turbo-diesel E 250 CDI is priced almost nine percent below the outgoing V6 turbo-diesel E 280 CDI.

So if you have $80 -174K to spend on a car, the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class has to be on your shopping list.

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