Auto Express revealed Ford's plans for a plusher, more upmarket Ford Fiesta back in March and now the all-new supermini has been spied on the road for the first time.
While the overall shape and proportions will remain largely unchanged from the current Fiesta, (as the car is based on the same platform) new spy shots give away some fresh design cues. At the front, the Fiesta gets a flatter and lower nose with a wider grille flanked by slimmer swept back headlamps.
Round the back, the biggest change is clearly the new taillamps. The old verticle lights have been replaced with a wider lamp cluster which stretches from the tailgate onto the rear wheel arch. The new design certainly gives an impression of an increase in width despite the Fiesta being only fractionally larger than before.
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Due on sale in the first half of 2017, the next Fiesta will be nudged up in price, quality, refinement and features to reflect more expensive tastes among supermini customers – and to allow room for a cheaper stablemate, the forthcoming Ka+, which will sit just below it in the range.
The Fiesta stays on Ford’s Global B platform for what will be its seventh generation, so while spy shots have shown a car sporting a wider track, engineers are likely to have only millimetres to play with when it comes to extending dimensions.
Staying on the same chassis means that Ford can save considerable sums of money on research and development – and at least some of that cash will be pumped into improving two areas where the Fiesta now lags behind the competition: interior quality and big-car features.
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Inside, soft-touch materials will replace the current rubberised finish on the facia, and there will be a major overhaul of the car’s infotainment system. Expect the existing tiny display to be replaced by a larger touchscreen, featuring the company’s latest SYNC 3 software for music, smartphone integration and satellite navigation. New safety equipment is likely to include lane departure warning and blind spot monitoring, along with traffic sign recognition.
The mechanical make-up will focus on the next generation of Ford’s EcoBoost engines; indeed, this could be the point where the Fiesta drops its old four-cylinder 81bhp motor and switches exclusively to turbocharged three-cylinder power. This would distinguish it from the cheaper Ka+.
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Nudging the Fiesta upmarket marks a key shift in Ford’s small-car line-up, as the more basic editions of the Fiesta – Studio and Style trims – are likely to be dropped, moving the entry point for the range to around £13,000. This, in turn, will allow the forthcoming Ka+ to be pitched as a competitor for models that currently undercut the Fiesta or beat it on specification – the Dacia Sandero and Vauxhall Corsa, for example.
Ford has been wrestling with the name of its new small model, which marks a move away from the traditional city car class. But marketing officials believe there’s enough equity in the Ka name for it to continue, albeit with the ‘+’ suffix designed to reflect its larger dimensions. The Ka+ will also share the Global B platform with the new Fiesta, but will be more basic inside, built in India instead of Germany and considerably cheaper – entry-level editions of the car are likely to cost around £8,000.
Meanwhile, Ford bosses have not ruled out an even more luxurious range-topper for the Fiesta that could carry Vignale badging. “Never say never on this,” said European sales and marketing chief Roelant de Waard when asked if the firm would consider a Vignale smaller than the Mondeo. “We sell expensive Fiestas and EcoSports; it may be true over time that the same thing happens and we realise there is more that we can offer. Size is not equal to luxury any more.”
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