The first full body prototypes for the new Mercedes C-Class have been caught by our spies while undergoing early testing in cold weather conditions. It is due to hit the market in late 2013 or early 2014.
Development engineers at Mercedes appear to have gone to fairly extreme lengths to protect the styling from prying eyes. The black panels that have been placed over the sheet metal hide almost all design lines.
The shape of the panel covering the grille on the front fascia hints that this aspect may be a little more oval than on its predecessor. Of what we can see of the headlights, it shows hints of the styling used by the new CLS, a little higher and wider than the current C-Class and it wraps round from the front end to the side panels giving an overall sportier appeal.
It is a little too early to confidently predict the engine options that the next generation C-Class will employ. There have been rumours that Mercedes are developing three-cylinder engines, but it is more likely the C-Class will get four-cylinder units that would reduce the engine to operating on just 2-cylinders when less power is needed.
What we can confidently predict is that the C-Class will be getting hybrid options. If the products already offered by the German manufacturer are any indication, we should see the petrol and diesel units coupled with an electric motor that develops around 27 PS (20 kW / 27 hp).