2010 Mercedes E350 Coupe: it may be the safest car of its type ever built.

4011349486_53c2f35595_m.jpgThe Mercedes-Benz E-Class is almost entirely new for 2010 and has a new level of technology unmatched by any other car. Though almost everything about the E-Class is new, the one thing that remains is the level of engineering excellence that has defined this automobile for decades.

I tested the new two-door Coupe that is a new addition for 2010 and joins the familiar sedan. The new E-Class looks different on the outside and is very attractive to look at. But where the most improvements have been made are underneath that beautiful exterior. Mercedes engineering has taken the E-Class to whole new level of improved crash protection, handling, and safety. This all shows up in their high-tech control and management systems.

The 2010 E-Class is the most electronics-intensive model Mercedes has offered to date. And most of the new computer management systems focus on safety. The most impressive is a new Attention Assist system which monitors up to 70 driving parameters to determine whether the driver is getting drowsy behind the wheel and uses visual and auditory warnings to tell the driver to pull over for rest. And this system is just the beginning.

The Distronic Plus cruise control option is offered with both blind-spot warning and lane-departure warning systems built in. An intelligent self-adjusting headlamp system uses cameras to detect both oncoming cars and the traffic ahead, and raises and lowers the headlamp beams accordingly. The system puts the most light on the road most of the time, without disturbing other drivers. The new Intelligent Nightview option throws infrared light in front of the car and then uses high-resolution video cameras to spot any higher temperatures coming from pedestrians and animals that would otherwise be invisible to the drivers eye.

Another new addition to the E-Class is what Mercedes calls its COMAND system. COMAND ($6,350) is a seven-inch color display screen with standard in-dash, six-disc CD/DVD changer and a Bluetooth interface that allows phones to be operated through the car's audio system, even if they remain in a purse or pocket. Using a point-and-click controller on the center console, this central display can be controlled by either the driver or front passenger to adjust audio and other functions. The COMAND display also shows the optional navigation screen, the back-up camera image, and the night vision infrared display.

The new two-door Coupe might be the sexiest E-Class car ever produced by Mercedes. When you get past all the technology, the E-Class is a smooth, quiet, and elegant automobile. The E350 Coupe ($48,050) comes with automatic dual-zone climate control, burl walnut trim, 14-way power front seats with position memory, an eight-speaker stereo with six-CD changer and Bluetooth interface, and 17-inch alloy wheels. The E350 Coupe also comes standard with leather upholstery and a power panorama sunroof. The Coupe I tested came with the optional Sport Appearance Package ($1,950) with 18 AMG 6-spoke wheels, Agility Control sport suspension, and performance front brakes.

The E-Class front seats are also new, they are comfortable, and didnt leave me tired after a long drive to Colorado Springs. The 14-way power seats and adjustable steering wheel will accommodate nearly any sized driver.  My only complaint is the familiar Mercedes' stalked-mounted cruise-control switch that looks too much like, and is too easily mistaken for, the turn-signal lever. The Premium leather option ($1,350) gives a luxurious feel to the already comfortable cabin.

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