The next-generation W206 Mercedes-Benz C-Class has been spotted undergoing winter tests several times over, but now it appears that our spy photographers have stumbled upon a mid-range AMG variant.

Now, keep in mind that Mercedes-Benz has trademarked the C 53 nameplate in 2018, a move which suggests that the baby sedan is next in line to get the M256 3.0 litre inline-six petrol engine. Currently, the engine is serving duties in all AMG 53 models and is generally tuned to make 435 PS and 520 Nm of torque.

The M256 is an EQ Boost engine, so it’s augmented with a 48-volt mild-hybrid system and belt-driven starter-alternator, the latter offering an additional 22 hp and 250 Nm. Power goes out to all four wheels (4Matic+) through a nine-speed AMG Speedshift TCT 9G automatic.

It’s widely thought that the new AMG C53 will replace the outgoing C43 with the M276 3.0 litre twin-turbo V6 engine. In the W205 C43, the engine makes 385 hp (23 hp more than the pre-facelift model) and 520 Nm. It’s no slouch though, requiring just 4.7 seconds to do the 0-100 km/h sprint, and the top speed is electronically limited at 250 km/h.

Back to the C53 prototype – the test mule is completely camouflaged, but interestingly the grille looks like a Panamericana unit typically fitted onto AMG models. It also features larger brakes, and a quick look behind reveals bare exhaust exits that have yet to be integrated into the bumper.

Meanwhile, the W206 C-Class is tipped to ride on the revised MRA2 rear-wheel drive platform, this time designed to improve cabin space despite retaining roughly the same exterior dimensions. The same platform will be designed to accommodate the automaker’s latest electrified powertrains, including fitment of larger battery packs.

Like the current C-Class, the W206 model range will be crowned by high-performance C53 and C63 AMG variants, although these will be introduced at a later stage. It remains to be seen if the C63 will still continue using the M177 4.0 litre biturbo V8. Expect it to be offered in several body styles, such as an estate, coupe, convertible, and possibly an All-Terrain variant as well. Much to look forward to, then.