Seen here for the first time testing with less disguising than we've ever snapped it before, is the new 2008 Mercedes-Benz C-Class - and we even have shots of the car's tail without any disguising at all.

Rear undisguised

Seen here for the first time testing with less disguising than we’ve ever snapped it before, is the new 2008 Mercedes-Benz C-Class – and we even have shots of the car’s tail without any disguising at all.

Expect official unveiling at Geneva 2007 with sales starting shortly after. Also expect the wagon to arrive 6 months later in the autumn. Our sources state a cabriolet soft-top and coupe are also planned which we can only interpret as being the new CLK-Class, which is also based on the same platform.

Although it will share more of its components than before with the larger E-Class, the next C will be much sharper to drive and more distinctive as a range in its own right: Mercedes-Benz is to position it as a true small sports saloon, rather than simply a smaller answer to the E.

Air suspension or active body control have been ruled out due to cost restraints. Base engine will be a direct injection 4-cylinder 1.8-litre with varying horsepower from 150 to 190. Horsepower for the 2.5- and 3.5-litre V6 will be 210 to 270 respectively. AMG's 5.4-litre will be revised with new horsepower rating up from today's 360 to 400-410bhp to compete with the Audi RS4 and future BMW M3. Also a 3.0-litre diesel is planned as well as the new iDrive-like operating concept found in the new S-Class. 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system will also remain available as well.

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