The next-generation Ford Fiesta has been spotted testing in the Alps, ahead of going on sale next year.
Latest spy pictures have shown a modified chassis testing mule based on the current Fiesta. Visually, this latest mule appears similar to earlier test vehicles.
A revised front-end design on the prototype reveals new shapes for the grille and air intakes for the next-gen car.
The rear is also disguised, and the car appears to have a wider track than the current Fiesta, suggesting the seventh-generation car will be larger than today's hatchback. The current Fiesta is 3969mm long and 1709mm wide, with a height of 1468mm.
The current sixth-generation Fiesta, which received a facelift in 2013 and was launched in 2008, will be due for replacement towards the end of this year, meaning a 2017 launch is likely.
Speaking to Autocar at the Detroit motor show, Ford's sales and marketing boss Stephen Odell said it “was in our interests to keep a car that is so well received fresh in its market”. Odell added that he was not concerned about the challenge of replacing such a successful car, as he backed the design and engineering teams to deliver.
“I remember when we launched the current car, the hand-wringing that went on as it was so different; could we even call it a Fiesta? But the car makes the name, not the name makes the car. It’s still a fantastic-looking car, I’m paid to say that but the sales back it up.”
Despite the growing provenance of the new Ford Performance division, officials have been quick to deny any rumours of a Fiesta RS, with Ford Performance director Dave Pericak saying the company is more than happy with having the ST, and the limited-edition ST200, as its Fiesta range-toppers.
Similarly, Odell wouldn't confirm or deny the existence of such a model, or indeed whether any other Ford other than the Focus would receive RS treatment, saying only that RS “was a really valuable brand” which had “an opportunity to keep it fresh”.