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Our European spy photographers have caught the next-generation W177 Mercedes-Benz A-Class again, this time on the challenging Nürburgring Nordschleife. The new hatchback is expected to make its debut at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show in about a year’s time, and the engineers look to be working at full speed to get the car ready for its reveal.

It’s still early days, so little can be seen of the actual car, no thanks to the large amount of camouflage on the car. Still, we can at least infer that the car will retain the current W176‘s proportions, with a long bonnet and a low body – although it does look a little longer.

Other things we can see are the new wing mirrors, which have been moved from the base of the A-pillar to sit on the doors, much like Mercedes’ newer coupés like the C- and S-Class Coupé. The distinctive swage line that runs across the doors looks to have been retained, while the rear end sees the inclusion of a wider tailgate, splitting the tail lights into two parts on each side (à la GLA).

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The new A-Class will ride on a redevelopment of the current car’s Modular Front Architecture (MFA), dubbed MFA2. It’s expected to be lighter than before and be compatible with a greater range of powertrains – apart from the current 1.6 litre and 2.0 litre four-cylinder engines, a three-cylinder engine and a plug-in hybrid could also feature.

Higher up the range, the AMG-tuned A-Class range is set to be split into two – a new mid-level A 40 model is expected to feature a power output of over 300 hp, while the new A 45 could blow past the 400 hp mark.

The hatch bodystyle is just the start – there is also rumoured to be a sedan version that will provide more space than the CLA, which, like the BMW 1 Series Sedan, is expected to be offered exclusively in the Chinese market. Elsewhere, the B-Class and CLA are set to live on, but the GLA is reportedly morphing into a more rugged, G-Class inspired SUV called the GLB.