Mercedes-Benzis is already in the development phase of its next generation C-Class, and prototypes have already been tested at the Nurburgring.

Seen on the infamous track in a typical disguise before a debut in early 2020, the compact executive has received an evolutionary redesign to restore its competitive edge over the new BMW 3 series. Most changes focus more on advances under the skin than on a major external renovation.

The key to the changes is a revamped platform, new hybrid transmissions, a revised chassis and a much more advanced 48V electrical architecture. Experts suggest it will offer new autonomous driving features, including driving without manual intervention at speeds of up to 81 mph.

Mercedes has not strayed far from the design line of the popular fourth-generation C-Class, but a closer look at the prototypes reveals some detailed changes, including a lowered front end and a steeper rear window that serves to shorten the length of the luggage compartment. The new C-Class has also undergone extensive aerodynamic development. The authorities suggest it has a Cd of only 0.25, representing the best in its class in aerodynamic efficiency.

These early prototypes of the new C-Class, code-named W206, also reveal that it will be similar in size to its predecessor, but with a slightly larger wheelbase. The model is based on a modified version of the current MRA C-Class platform, with new aluminum structural elements to increase rigidity, although sources say it won$0027t be much lighter.

Inside, the new C-Class will adopt an interior similar to the one used by the new EQ C, with a dual display of infotainment and instrument panel and control of conversational gestures. The next C-Class will be launched with electrified transmissions throughout the range.

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