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Spy shot: Next Mercedes CLK’s snowy debut

Our spy photographers have been wrapping up warm this week. As the snows fell across Germany, we’ve caught the first prototypes of the next Mercedes-Benz CLK on test in fairytale conditions.

The new model due in 2009 will continue in the vein of today’s coupé and cabrio twins – selling at E-Class money, despite being based on C-Class mechanicals.

Mercedes is hoping it will boost global C-Class sales from 395,000 last year to more than a half a million by the end of the decade.

A longer wheelbase is designed to guarantee space for four, while the styling under that disguise apes the sleek design of the big CL coupé, with curvy sides as on the three-pointed star’s recent F700 concept car.

Engines will range from four-cylinder powerplants to a V8 lump in the top-end AMG performance variant, and most petrol engines will adopt Mercedes-Benz’s’ new direct-injection systems to trim emissions and fuel consumption.

There will be a big emphasis on quality, after lapses in the past decade and technology lovers will be treated to some of the company’s flashiest gadgets. The convertible’s roof will be toasty warm thanks to a new heated fabric hood and there’s a next-generation Airscarf system to keep your neck snug. Perfect for driving the soft-top in the snow, then.

Mercedes CLK
Design: Honey-I-shrunk-the-CL looks
Timetable: Coupé launch in 2009, convertible six months later
Tech: Heated fabric hood, airscarf neck warmers

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