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Looks like development on the W213 Mercedes-Benz E-Class is progressing right on schedule with a prototype hitting the Nurburgring this time round. Prior to this, spyshots have only shown a mule parading its camouflaged body on the streets – further signalling to speculators that the final phases of road testing are being conducted as we speak. After all, the car is expected to make its international debut next year.

First things first, the prototype pictured here sports less camouflage than before and it’s clear for all to see that the next-generation E-Class will follow the design language of the W205 C-Class and W222 S-Class. Eagle-eyed readers will also be able to pick up the slight increase in size, made possible by the adoption of the MRA platform currently underpinning the W205 and W222.

The employment of the MRA platform and extensive use of aluminium is expected to drop the weight of the new car by as much as 100 kg, according to reports. Under the bonnet, the W213 E-Class is expected to be powered by a range of petrol and diesel engines – numerous reports indicate that Mercedes-Benz could premiere an all-new lineup of six-cylinder engines.

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Naturally, a hotter AMG version as well as a plug-in hybrid variant will follow. However, expect the two to be introduced at a much later date – the third quarter of 2017, at the earliest. The AMG variant will most likely utilise a reengineered variant of the biturbo 4.0 litre V8 engine from the Mercedes-AMG C 63 with power expected to be hiked up to around 600 hp.

As usual, the range will feature a sedan, wagon, coupe and cabriolet version of the E-Class. On the inside, the W213 is understood to arrive on the scene with a carbon copy of the layout from the W222 S-Class. The centre console will feature a single-piece wood assembly with air-con vents embedded in while the climate controls have been relegated lower down for a cleaner appearance.

Unlike the current models, the W213 E-Class is also set to mimic the S-Class by adopting a COMAND screen integrated into the instrument binnacle instead of a floating, tablet-like display. Unlike the S-Class, however, the W213 E-Class will feature analogue gauges. As expected, interior space should see a significant increase thanks to the aforementioned MRA platform.

GALLERY: W213 Mercedes-Benz E-Class prototype