... Mercedes-Benz has released selected official pictures of the 2011 C-Class Estate to accompany the purloined pictures. Merc calls the "new" C-Class, due here mid-year, a "comprehensive modernisation", with redesigned front and rear, upgraded dash and interior materials.
More strikingly, the company claims a 31 per cent reduction in fuel consumption due to enhanced seven-speed auto transmission and Eco start/stop function. There's also 10 new driver aid systems ranging from Attention Assist drowsiness detection to Distronic Plus proximity control.
"With numerous high-grade features in the interior that remind one of the new CLS, the C-Class sets completely new standards in its segment with respect to perceived value and quality," says Dr Joachim Schmidt, Merc's sales and marketing director man.
A total of more than 2000 new components distinguish the latest generation of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class from its predecessor, he says. Visibly, though, the changes are hardly dramatic, though four- and five-door have a new aluminium bonnet, which contributes to weight reduction and the all important reduction in fuel consumption.
The 2011 version of Merc's mainstay has a new front fascia, with LED daytime running lights, LED indicators, a new front grille, and a slightly re-designed rear section. There will certainly be interior upgrades too.
As ever, it's a case of visual evolution, not revolution, the main changes being mechanical, not least in the iconic C 63 AMG. The 6.2-litre V8 is likely to be superseded by Merc's 5.5-litre biturbo unit whose possible power of 380kW exceeds even the output of the one-off Jaffa special made for the Australian International Motor Show.
Petrol and diesel V6s are also up for power increases, to some 225kW and 195kW respectively. Elsewhere, the ever pressing need to lower the fleet consumption and emission average will see new BluTec diesel powertrains and engine stop-start systems, as well as more direct-injected models and the possible end of the five speed auto in those models that retain it for seven-speed transmissions.
Rumours persist of the first C Class hybrid. The 2011 C-Class is expected to have its global premier this month, going on sale later in the year.
Though it starts just south of $60,000 here, the C-Class was one of Australia's best-selling midsize imports in 2010. In November it was second outright only to the locally-produced fleet favourite Toyota Camry.
The four door Merc has left behind not only obvious prestige rivals such as BMW's 3 Series and Audi's A4, but also at times high-quality offerings from Japan and elsewhere in Europe that start as much as 50 per cent under the tristar car.