The all-new 2016 Mercedes-Benz E-Class range is gearing up to join the new Maybach stable, if these prototypes spied in China are anything to go by.
As with the recently launched Mercedes-Maybach S-Class models, this smaller offering is expected to offer greater space and an even more upmarket environment for those in the second row.
This prototype, spied by China's Auto.qq, is set apart from the regular new E-Class by its longer cabin, which can be identified by the stretched roofline and rear doors. The D-pillar is also notably thicker, with the camouflage likely hiding an additional window and the Maybach badge.
A more capacious rear is nothing new for the E-Class, with a long-wheelbase option already existing for some markets in the previous generation. Focused on the legroom-obsessed Chinese market, the large sedan had its 4868mm overall length stretched to 4895mm.
But, even in its regular form, the all-new Class is longer than that at 4923mm. This new Maybach option will go even further - reports suggest an additional 200mm in overall length - and with a far more luxurious rear space than in the regular long-wheelbase variant of the previous range.
Mercedes has yet to confirm plans for a Maybach variant of the E-Class, although Mercedes-Benz USA chief Steve Cannon reportedly told industry journal Automotive News last year that the high-end badge will migrate to other models over time.
"You will see more from the Maybach brand,” he said.
Above: ultimate luxury in the rear of the big Mercedes-Maybach S-Class
Given the finished appearance of these prototypes, an unveiling at April’s Beijing motor show could be on the cards. Watch this space.
MORE: All E-Class coverage