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Chris Thorp

Merc Ready For C Change

Here's some braking news. Exclusive pictures in the current issue of Auto Express magazine show Mercedes' new V8-engined C55 saloon undergoing tests to make sure it can stop as quickly as it goes. The next German super-saloon is due next year, and this is also a first glimpse at the facelifted C-Class.

The flagship will get the same styling changes as the rest of the range, including clear glass headlights and LED tail-lights. That will bring the car in line with the bigger E and S-Class. New body mouldings around the sides are also visible under the black plastic disguise.

The C55 will come with a full AMG bodykit, featuring low side skirts and modified front and rear bumpers. The twin exhaust pipes hint at the potential, and - along with large-diameter five-spoke AMG-branded wheels - create an aggressive look. Many of the AMG add-ons will be available as optional extras on lesser models so, to set the C55 apart, Mercedes' designers have penned a bespoke front end. This section is heavily disguised in these shots, but it will include a special radiator grille in the style of the CLK coupé.

Stylists are said to have agonised over which style of three-pointed star to use. Our sources say the grille-mounted badge - normally reserved for coupés and convertibles - may take the place of the more traditional emblem, standing proud on the bonnet.

Power will come from a normally aspirated 5.5-litre V8 engine producing a mouthwatering 367bhp. As with most high-performance Mercedes, the C55 will initially feed its power through a five-speed automatic gearbox to the rear wheels, although a seven-speed automatic box will be available later.

Available as both a four-door saloon and five-door estate, the C55 and the revised C-Class range will be launched from next February.

2001 CL Type S
2001 Lexus RX300 Silversport
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