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Mercedes-AMG could turn the next CLS into a full-blown Panamera-fighter

New details shed light on what we can expect from the third generation of the Mercedes-Benz CLS.

The next CLS could adopt the CLE nameplate. Visually, it will be more of an evolution of the second-generation car (pictured) than a complete revolution. The sleek, swept-back silhouette will remain, but its rear end will fall in line with the recently launched coupe variants of the C-Class and the S-Class. The model will ride on the same Modular Rear Architecture (MRA) as the new E-Class, and the two cars will share many high-tech electronic driving aids.

Switching to the MRA platform will make the CLE longer, lighter, and roomier than the outgoing CLS. Rumors indicate Mercedes won’t replace the Shooting Brake body style due to low demand for station wagons outside of Europe, which is a long shot from being the CLS’ biggest market.

More: Why Mercedes-Benz won’t offer a diesel-powered C-Class in the United States

The CLS nameplate will be transferred to Mercedes-AMG and used on a faster, more upmarket sedan positioned directly against the Porsche Panamera, according to industry trade journal Automotive News. It sounds like Mercedes has asked its designers to ensure the CLS and the CLE look noticeably different, meaning they’ll be marketed as two separate models rather than variations of the same car.

The base CLE will use a four-cylinder engine, while more expensive variants will likely receive the brand new straight-six engine that will make its debut next year under the hood of the face-lifted S-Class. A gasoline-electric, plug-in hybrid drivetrain could join the lineup for the first time, though nothing is set in stone yet. Moving up, the CLS will undoubtedly benefit from AMG’s ubiquitous twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8, and it could pack over 600 horsepower.

Mercedes hasn’t commented on what will replace the CLS. Regardless, the model is expected to make its official debut in 2018.