Mercedes' new C-class saloon has set foot onto the Nurburgring to begin its programme of endurance testing.
Though heavily disguised at both ends with black cladding, the structure of the nose with Mercedes' current upright grille and large badge design is clearly evident here. It looks almost ready for production, but don't be fooled: with the current C-class range recently overhauled, the new W205 car won't arrive until summer 2014.
So the new C-class will crib styling from other Mercedes cars?
Yes indeed. Getting consumers to buy into the 'mini-S-class' idea is a big part of the C-class appeal. The new C will borrow elements from other Merc though. The familiar grille first worn by the SLS has been grafted onto the SLK, SL and CLS since, so expect Merc's baby saloon to get the same treatment.
Tail lights will be swept into the flanks a la CLS too, but don't expect the 2015 C-class to be too rakish. Mercedes will instead create a little brother to the CLS in the shape of the CLA, an entry-level 'coupaloon' due to appear in 2013, according to CAR's sources.
There's an awful lot of new Mercedes models coming in the near future, right?
Right. Moustachioed Mercedes CEO Dr Dieter Zetsche recently confirmed that Mercedes aimed to launch 10 all-new models by 2020. We've already seen the first: the CLS Shooting Brake. Other niches Merc will plug are likely to be an X6-fighting coupe ML, the aforementioned mini-CLS (CLA) coupaloon and estate version, plus several A-class variants, and even a soft-top CL, akin to 2006's Ocean Drive concept.
The S-class itself will become a seven-model line-up, with four different wheelbase versions in order to plug the hole left by failing luxury arm Maybach. For all the details on the new range of Mercedes S-class limousines, please click here.
Mercedes has comissioned Renault to supply entry-level petrol units for the smaller cars. There'll be a 1.4-litre unit with either 100bhp or 136bhp and 1.6-litre, 122bhp diesel The rest of the range will be equipped with the direct-injection powerplants we know from the C-class.