The next-generation Mercedes-Benz A-Class hatchback has been spied testing on public roads in Spain.

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Despite the generous quantities of disguise applied to the car, we can see that the new A-Class will feature evolutionary styling and a similar silhouette to today's car.

Along the sides, the new A-Class once again has a character line that starts near the bottom corner of the front door and then sweeps up dramatically to a point above the rear wheel arch.

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If the grille and headlights look remarkably low set, don't fret: this development vehicle is wearing a very tall and boxy false bonnet.

This prototype's temporary headlamps and tail-lights will probably make way for units that fit in with the company's current house style.

Judging by the triangular cutouts towards the top of the windscreen, this prototype might feature a stereoscopic forward-facing camera setup.

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Under the skin, the next-generation A-Class will feature a new or heavily revised front- and all-wheel drive platform. In time this platform will be shared with the next-generation versions of the four-door CLA 'coupe', B-Class pseudo-people mover, and GLA SUV.

Given the high level of disguise on this prototype, it's likely the next-generation A-Class won't make its global debut until late 2017 or early 2018.

For reference, the current A-Class stepped out in public for the first time in 2012, a few months after the B-Class' 2011 debut.