Still over a year away, our spies have garnered details on the next all-new Mercedes E?class, code-named W212 and due at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show

It may still be well over a year until we know for sure what the next generation Mercedes E-Class will look like. But today, our spy photographer has taken pictures of a prototype of the codenamed W212 project close to Mercedes' test base at the Nurburgring.

For the 2010 model year the Mercedes E-Class is likely to drop its Sensotronic Brake Control (SBC) in favour of a conventional brake system with high-tech features such as wet-weather disc wiping and wheel-selective cornering brake control. Top of the range models such as the AMG series may have optional ceramic-composite brakes.

The new E-class design will mimic the S-class' wheel-arch extensions, rising character line below the door handles and big bumpers. Other features will include a more sculpted wide-frame grille and geometric air intakes in the front fascia. Some say the front headlights and c-pillar treatment is heavily influenced by the latest Lexus models, which is rather ironic since Lexus was famous for 'borrowing' design cues from Mercedes in the past. We expect that the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show will reveal all.

Driver safety will be a major theme on the E-Class with lane-departure warnings, eye-movement monitor, traffic sign identification, road condition sensors and stability control for crosswinds, camber changes and tire wear.

We expect no surprises in regards to the engine options, ranging from a 184 hp 4-cylinder to the usual V6 and V8 engines and the range-topping E63 AMG 6.3 liter V8 producing 500-plus horsepower.

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