Synonymous with luxury and performance, Mercedes-Benz has long been a favorite of monied professionals and enthusiasts of the prestige that owning this storied marque provides. Until recently, however, engineers in Stuttgart have struggled to create models that elicit excitement from young, prospective customers like myself.

The 2012 year models are shaping up to be a big departure from this trend, however, as the C250 Sport Sedan, E350 Coupe, and GLK350 are putting the “cool” back into the Mercedes-Benz lineup.

Mercedes C250

2012 Mercedes-Benz C250

Only slightly larger than Honda’s Civic, Mercedes’ C250 is anything but a mundane entry-level sedan. The styling is simultaneously classy and edgy: aggressively sloping headlamps surround the large tri-spoke emblem; panels gracefully slant from bumper to bumper; the slope of the trunk lid evoking a feeling of movement even when parked.

The 1.8 liter turbocharged engine under the hood churns out 201 horsepower, giving the C250 all the pep and acceleration one would expect while maintaining 31 highway miles to the gallon. Inside, drivers find sporty takes on the typical Mercedes trappings like top-tier stereo systems with iPod connectivity, electronic everything, and clean, German lines.

With a starting price of only a little over $34,000, this is one luxurious, sporty little car.

2012 Mercedes Benz E350

2012 Mercedes-Benz E350 Coupe

Leveling up from the C-Class is the E-Class, a full-sized vehicle with sports car pedigree. The E350 Coupe is definitely the stand-out as it is both sexy and powerful.

Mercedes perfected the vehicle’s exterior proportions by elongating the front doors into the space where the rear doors had been and rounding off the 4-door model’s sharper edges. Four average adults can comfortably sail down the freeway in refined luxury: swaddled in plush leather, comforted by the zone-specific climate control, and jamming out to the Harman/Kardon sound system.

Powered by a 305 horsepower engine that manages a surprisingly economical 29 miles to the gallon on the highway, the E350 coupe can accelerate from 0 to 60 in a nimble 6.1 seconds. The end result is a stunning exterior that maintains a spacious, elegant interior and a $49,800 price tag.

2012 Mercedes Benz GLK 350

2012 Mercedes-Benz GLK 350

For the driver looking for a uniquely styled, off-road Mercedes with sizable cargo capacity, look no further than the GLK350. The elevated stance, squared body angles, and sizable hatch let everyone know that it is an SUV. The sumptuous interior, 268 horsepower engine, and a 0 to 60 acceleration time of 6.5 seconds lets them know its a Mercedes.

With a touch over 23 cubic feet of cargo space, it has room for everything from golf clubs to genuine Mercedes parts for the enthusiast’s vehicle rehabilitation project. With off-road capabilities the C250 and E350 could only dream of, this SUV is perfect for the urban adventurer who values performance as well as style.

Mercedes, long famous for luxurious interiors and high-performing engines, has some of the coolest cars of 2012 in the C250, E350, and GLK350 models. In artfully demonstrating how performance, luxury, and style can be embodied by one vehicle, these Mercedes-Benz’s are sure to be owner favorites for years to come. Starting Price: $35,880.

Cool Enough To Keep What You Have?

As cool as these new Mercedes are, many of you out there still love the one you own today – is there anything wrong with that? Nope! Saving yourself from debt IS cool and generally buying that one part to fix what you have is generally the best way to go.