The camouflage is beginning to come off the new Mercedes C-Class, and we have the best spy shots yet of the hi-tech BMW 3 Series rival. And without the cladding that has shrouded prototypes up until this point, every curve and crease of the new front end can be clearly seen.
There are striking similarities to the recently facelifted E-Class saloon, Coupe and Convertible with single-unit headlights that curve neatly around the twin-bar grille and a curvy front bumper with three large air intakes - just like the E-Class. Mercedes is giving less away at the rear, although you can make out a neat arc in the boot lip and a pair of wraparound LED tail lights.
Scheduled to be unveiled in early 2014 - suggesting a Detroit Motor Show debut - the new C-Class will take on the might of the 3 Series, and a new Audi A4 (also dues in 2014), by offering a wide choice of engines and safety technology filtered down from the E-Class and new S-Class.
An efficient range of turbocharged, four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines will lead the sales charge in the UK, but a plug-in hybrid is also planned at a later date. Based on a new modual platform known internally as MRA, four-wheel drive will be offered as an option on UK cars for the first time.
And the four-door saloon shown here isn't the only C-Class derivative Mercedes has under development. A sporty three-door C-Class Coupe is due in 2015, to replace the CLK, as well as a convertible version expected to use a compact folding fabric roof.