A third-generation Mercedes-Benz CLS Class prototype has been spotted during cold-climate testing in Scandinavia.
The customary camouflage appears to be masking mostly evolutionary design changes, the most notable being the more pronounced boot lid with straight rear profile, reduced hip line and horizontal tail lights replacing the triangular lenses.
Sharing the same MRA platform as the Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan, it was widely expected the CLS would be renamed CLE, though insiders at Mercedes have confirmed the CLS badge will remain mostly because the brand is so established.
It still has the longer wheelbase than the E Class, which helps accommodate the sloping roofline over the back seats.
What is expected to change are engines options, with the V6s replaced by 3.0-litre turbocharged in-line sixes and the noisy 2.1-litre four-cylinder turbo diesels replaced by more sociable 2.0-litre units.
There will still be a V8 AMG version and the E-Class underpinnings means it could accommodate the E350e’s plug-in hybrid powertrain.
Inside, it’s also expected to share the E-Class’s excellent dashboard, with twin 12-inch displays on a single long flat screen.
The 2018 CLS will be an all-four door coupe affair, with no plans for an estate or to reintroduce a shooting brake model, which didn’t exactly take the world by storm when added in 2012, despite its stunning looks.
The all-new CLS will be available in Europe from mid-2018 – about a year after the “real” two-door E-class coupe. Expect it to be available here a few months later.
Rivals will include the Audi A7 and RS7 and the BMW 6-Series GT.