It’s been nearly four months since the first mule of the next-generation E-Class was spotted on public roads in June 2014, and the midsize sedan is back to parade its camouflaged body. While the first prototype looked like a new-generation C-Class with a longer wheelbase and front end, the mule our spy photographers caught testing in Germany recently tells a different story.

Expected to arrive in dealerships for the 2017 model year, the next E-Class will be a major departure from the current model. Mercedes is developing the new sedan on the same modular MRA platform that debuted with the 2015 C-Class, meaning the new E-Class will be lighter and more suited to carry different body styles, including two-door coupe and cabriolet models. The redesigned exterior and interior will be joined by a fresh lineup of six-cylinder engines.

Until more details become available, let’s have a look at the latest E-Class prototype that hit the streets.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2017 Mercedes E-Class.

Spy Shots

Spy Shots: 2017 Mercedes E-Class Testing in Germany Exterior Spyshots
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Spy Shots: 2017 Mercedes E-Class Testing in Germany Exterior Spyshots
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Spy Shots: 2017 Mercedes E-Class Testing in Germany Exterior Spyshots
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These new spy shots come to confirm the new E-Class is slightly longer and wider than its predecessor. This means the midsize will boast a roomier interior with enhanced headroom and shoulder room, especially in the rear.

The sedan’s design is still a mystery, and the fully camouflaged body is doing a great job at keeping the details hidden from our eyes. The C-Class taillights seen on the previous mule are gone and are replaced by prototype units, but it appears the test vehicle still sports C-Class-like headlamps. This may be an indication that Mercedes is developing the E-Class into a larger C-Class, but we’ll have to wait for the prototype to shed some camo for an accurate conclusion. Hopefully this will happen by the end of 2014.

There’s no official word on what engines will motivate the new E-Class, but we expect a wide range of gasoline and diesel mills to be offered in Europe and the United States alike. A plug-in hybrid sedan and AMG versions are also on the table. One thing’s certain, all next-gen E-Class models will post better fuel-economy numbers and lower CO2 emissions.

Why It Matters

For a model that’s set to be introduced sometime in 2016, the E-Class sure hit the streets early. This can only mean Mercedes is working on a vehicle that’s significantly better in all aspects. A lighter and more rigid platform is great news for a midsize sedan, and Mercedes has a good shot at creating one of the sportiest vehicles in the class. Competition is tough when you play alongside the BMW M5 and the Audi A6, and this pretty much explains why Stuttgart is testing a prototype two years before unveiling it to the public.

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