Mercedes Benz has lost ground in the premium coupe segment against its main rival BMW and its more recent E92 3-series coupe, so it comes as little surprise that engineers are rushing to complete development of the all-new 2009 CLK. A near production-ready CLK test mule was recently spotted undergoing testing in Stuttgart, giving us a clue as to what the final car will look like.

Designers have followed the style set by the larger S-Class sedan with the new CLK picking up a high waistline and wedge profile plus a chiseled front end with angular headlights. The new lights are a departure to the current model’s conjoined circular units, featuring a squared look that’s almost identical to the C-Class sedan.

Powertrains will be similar to the C-Class sedan including the new 272hp 3.5L V6 engine as well as Mercedes’ 5.5L V8 for the CLK500 flagship. An even more powerful AMG version is guaranteed; sporting the 481hp version of the hand built 6.2L V8 engine. The CLK will be offered with optional 4Matic AWD and could possibly come with a new mild-hybrid option.

To capture ground lost to its rivals, Mercedes will beef up the CLK range with the latest technology shared with the more expensive S-Class. The new coupe is likely to pick up Mercedes’ Presafe brake assist, night vision, the latest COMAND system and possibly even an active suspension system. The CLK is expected to be revealed at next year’s Geneva Motor Show, with the first sales likely to start towards the end of 2008. A soft-top cabrio version will follow one year after.