Mercedes' critical 3-series and Audi A4 rival has left the controlled conditions of Nurburgring testing, and headed out onto the open road.
Amongst ever more imaginative niches like the CLA 'coupaloon', CLS Shooting Brake and S-class Pullman, it's easy to forget the three-box C-class saloon is Merc's best-selling UK model.
Why is the Mercedes C-class still so heavily camouflaged?
It is strange to see a car still so masked up for this long: usually a sort of automotive striptease unfolds before our spies. Mercedes is taking its sweet time with the C-class because the current car is due to solider on until at least 2014.
Back in July 2012, Mercedes treated the C-class range to aesthetic tweaks, new trimlines and a new engine variant: the entry-level C180. That update is set to keep the car fresh alongside the BMW 3-series, new Lexus IS and ageing Audi A4 until the next-gen model arrives as a 2015 model-year car.
The new 2015 C-class: more details
Coupe and estate C-classes will emerge in due course, boasting better safety tech from the upcoming Mercedes S-class, like automatic lane-changing guidance and autonomous braking. A high-performance AMG model is a dead cert, though we'll sadly wave goodbye to its partnership with the sonorous 6.2-litre V8 engine. That's downsizing for you.
The relentless march towards forced induction will see the C63 AMG veer towards a bi-turbo V8, most likely related to the normally aspirated 4.0-litre unit in the SLK55.