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Lighter and sleeker, the next Mercedes-Benz E-Class is right around the corner

Mercedes-Benz is the final stages of developing the all-new E-Class, and pictures of a bare shell going down an assembly line in Germany give us a good idea of what to expect from it when it lands.

Known as the w213 internally, the next E will borrow a sizable amount of design cues from the smaller C-Class and the range-topping S-Class. Its front end will feature Mercedes’ familiar bullet-shaped headlights and an upright grille, while its rear end will get a pair of LED tail lamps that will extend into the quarter panels. The pictures hint that the E’s dimensions and proportions won’t drastically change, though a few German media outlets claim it will be ever-so-slightly longer and wider than the current model.

The E will ride on Mercedes’ Modular Rear Architecture (MRA), a state-of-the-art platform made with lightweight materials like aluminum, that is expected to underpin at least 10 new models before the end of the decade. Also found under the aforementioned C-Class, the MRA platform will allow the E to shed up to 330 pounds over the current model, a diet that will benefit both fuel economy and driving dynamics.

Mechanically, the big news is that the next E-Class will inaugurate a brand new family of straight-six engines set to gradually replace the V6 that powers the current E as well as numerous other members of the Mercedes lineup. Buyers in Europe will have access to a frugal four-cylinder mill, and the w213 will become the first-ever regular-production plug-in hybrid E-Class.

At the top of the E-Class hierarchy, Mercedes-AMG’s M5-punching E63 will likely be powered by a downsized, twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 engine tuned to send at least 600 horsepower to all four wheels via an automatic transmission.

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More details about the next-gen Mercedes-Benz E-Class will emerge in the weeks leading up to its debut at next year’s edition of the Detroit Motor Show. After greeting the show-going public in the nation’s Motor City, the all-new E will land in Mercedes showrooms in time for the 2017 model year. Coupe, convertible and station wagon models will be introduced shortly after.

Updated 10-21-2015 by Ronan Glon: Added pictures, information about the E63.