Mercedes-Benz and AMG have been caught testing the next-generation Mercedes-Benz SLK 55 AMG on the Nurburgring in Germany. It looks like testing is in its final stages with the new model, as these spy shots show much of the bodywork is ready to be shown to the public.

Mercedes-Benz SLK55

Covered by typical black tape and sheeting, this test mule does provide a little glimpse of what to expect in terms of front end design. There seems to be air intakes in the side of the front bumper, possibly feeding air to the large front brakes.

The front end shows a low and sharp lower chin will be used to scoop air up and over the bonnet rather than allowing air to push the car off the ground by flowing underneath. The rest of the front end is rather conservative and handsome, showing a more grown up 'clean shaven' face compared with the existing model.

From the side, it's hard to tell this is even an AMG special. It's only upon closer inspection that you begin to see the clues, such as the large discs and multi-piston-caliper brakes. There's also a set of large alloy wheels added over the standard SLK.

Overall, it looks like Mercedes-Benz will lose that stereotypical 'hairdresser's car' image with this new model. It looks solid and well-proportioned compared with the existing range. And with a more powerful engine, it's sure to be quicker too.

Reports say the new SLK 55 AMG will feature a 5.5-litre V8 producing around 300-330kW of power and a seven-speed sports automatic transmission, helping the car accelerate from 0-100km/h in an expected low four-second range - the current model features a 5.4-litre V8 unit offering 265kW of power, capable of 4.9-second 0-100km/h times.

From the back, it's easy to see this is the full-blown AMG model - with those quad tailpipes and rear diffuser, it's not fooling anyone.

The 2012 Mercedes-Benz SL55 AMG is expected to debut at this year's Frankfurt Motor Show in September. Market entry is likely to take place during the first half of 2012.