The next-generation Ford Fiesta ST has been spotted testing for the first time ahead of a potential launch in 2018.
The pictures of the new hot hatchback show it is very similar to the standard Fiesta - which has also been spotted testing - but bigger alloys and uprated brakes can be seen, as well as a large intercooler at the front.
The model will stay front-wheel drive, but these pictures show a five-door model, which would be a first for the hot Fiesta in the UK. A five-door version is on sale in the US, so it looks like this new model has been designed to fit closely to the Blue Oval's 'One Ford' policy to streamline its models for different markets. It is not yet clear, however, whether the UK would still get a three-door variant for the next generation.
Likewise, the 'One Ford' policy could see the manufacturer introduce an automatic gearbox to the Fiesta range for the first time to help it appeal to a wider audience, but a six-speed manual transmission is expected to be offered as standard.
The current Fiesta ST is powered by a 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, and while no details of the new model’s powertrain have been announced, it’s expected to get the same set-up. A power hike could be possible for the Renault Sport Clio and Vauxhall Corsa VXR rival, and it could command a slightly higher price than the outgoing model, which starts at £17,745.
A current-generation Fiesta ST can be seen with the prototype in these spy pictures, suggesting Ford has been using it for benchmark testing.
No planned launch date has been set yet, but the special edition Ford Fiesta ST200 has only recently gone on sale, and the standard Fiesta is set for a 2017 release date, so the next-generation ST will be released after that, possibly in 2018, with a public debut slated for late next year.