Here's what it might be.
The Mercedes-Benz C-Class was just given a refresh but the next-generation version, which should arrive in the 2021 model year, has already been spotted undergoing testing. When we last spotted the next-generation C-Class, it was wearing heavy camouflage shielding new headlight, grille, and taillight designs that should differ greatly from the current model. We expect a debut in late 2020 with AMG versions to follow in 2021 and our spy photographers may have just captured those AMG models.
Pictured here is a row of camouflaged C-Class test mules that appear to have the AMG signature Panamericana grille hidden underneath. The grille is a dead giveaway of an AMG model and the larger wheels and brakes are also a telltale indicator.
It is clear that we are looking at a new AMG C-Class but we still don't know what number will appear on the rear decklid. The current C-Class is available as a C 43 AMG model, which is powered by a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 producing 385 horsepower and 384 lb-ft of torque. This model currently sits above the base C 300 but below the C 63 in the C-Class lineup.
But rumors indicate that Mercedes could replace with C 43 with a new C 53 model powered by the same 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six with mild-hybrid assist found in other 53-badged models. This engine produces 429 hp and 384 lb-ft of torque in other applications but could be reduced in the C-Class to keep it positioned well below the C 63, which uses a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 with 469 hp (assuming the next-generation model keeps the V8).
Mercedes could also keep the C 43 nomenclature but ditch the twin-turbo V6 for a new hybridized setup with a four-cylinder engine. We should see the new C-Class later this year but these AMG-badged variants won't arrive until early next year. AMG has been on a roll lately, so we expect this new C-Class to be great.