The Mercedes E-Class needs an update. The current-generation car debuted for the 2017 model year, and five years later, it’s ready for a thorough refresh. Previous spy shots haven’t revealed much, with a lot of the car covered in camouflage. The new spy pics are no different, but there are telltale signs that this Mercedes E-Class test vehicle is a bit more special than what we’ve spotted before. This could be the AMG E53e plug-in hybrid.

The new spy shots show the saloon thoroughly disguised, but Mercedes-AMG features distinct design elements that are impossible to hide with camouflage and cladding. The most prominent AMG signs are at the front and rear, where the saloon sports the Panamericana grille, four exhaust pipes, and larger brakes. The car also appears to feature larger intake openings in the lower front bumper, though Mercedes does a good job hiding them, just like the rest of the vehicle.

Gallery: Mercedes-AMG E53e Spy Shots

The saloon also features a charge port, which could hint at its powertrain. The E53 on sale today uses a turbocharged 3.0-litre inline-six engine with electrification to create 429 bhp (319 kilowatts) and 384 pound-feet (520 Newton-metres) of torque. It can hit 60 miles per hour (96 kilometres per hour) in under five seconds.

The E53e plug-in hybrid could borrow the hybrid four-cylinder powertrain that’ll propel the new C63, which could produce as much as 600 bhp (447 kW), but that’s a big jump in power over the outgoing model and too much power for a mid-level AMG model. Mercedes will offer an even hotter AMG E63 that needs room to breathe in the lineup.

Mercedes appears to be taking a conservative approach to redesigning the E-Class, something the brand has done with other vehicles in its lineup. The new E-Class will have the same basic shape paired with evolutionary design changes. The E-Class across the entire model range will feature a radical new interior that should align with the C-Class and S-Class, bringing the latest infotainment and safest tech to the E-Class.

Mercedes hasn’t said when we’d see the new E-Class, though we don’t expect a debut anytime soon. The standard E-Class should arrive first, followed by the hotter AMG models, with the E53 – possibly the E53e – debuting before the hotter E63.