Seen here for the first time testing with less disguise than ever before is the new 2008 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate. Expect official unveiling at the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show with sales starting shortly after.

Story previously published on 6/5/06

Seen here for the first time testing with less disguise than ever before is the new 2008 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate. Expect official unveiling at the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show with sales starting shortly after.

Also expect the saloon to arrive 6 months earlier in the spring. 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 estate rather than a true load-lugger. 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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Spy Photos: More 2008 Mercedes C-Class