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The development of the new Fiesta is central to a much wider plan of action when it comes to the company's small car line-up
Our images, which are based on top-secret information, show how the car will look when it makes its debut in March next year. We also have the first scoop pictures of a pre-production prototype model being given a thorough workout by engineers at an unnamed race track.
So far, Ford has only dared to drive boxy prototypes in public. But behind the scenes, designers have already put the finishing touches to a supermini that insiders have described to us as the most spectacular looking small car the firm has ever built.
The Fiesta is based on Ford's latest B2xx small car platform, and the model is currently being engineered alongside the upcoming Mazda 2, which was first revealed by Auto Express in Issue 928. The Ford will be built in Cologne, Germany, and shares much of its chassis architecture and key components with the new baby Mazda.
As well as the adventurous new look, the Fiesta will be longer and wider than the current car, and offer a more spacious cabin.
The blue oval is investing heavily in quality, too, and it has been reported that the dull plastics and monotone design of past Fiesta cabins have been banished for good.
Safety features will include front, side and head airbags, as well as the latest electronic brake force distribution and traction control systems.
There will be no shortage of luxury, either, and to build on the current car's hi-tech functionality, the new Fiesta will be one of the first European Fords to offer the firm's Microsoft-developed Sync technology. The set-up offers MP3 player and Bluetooth wireless phone connectivity.
At launch, the car will offer a five-strong engine line-up. Petrol-powered cars will come with a range of 1.3, 1.6 and 1.8-litre Duratec SCi engines, which feature direct injection for improved fuel economy. Two diesels will be available - a 1.4 and a 1.6-litre TDCi, which have been developed with Peugeot. It's thought both oil-burning units will employ the latest pollution-reducing particulate filters.
Shortly after the new model's launch, an ST-badged hot hatch will be unveiled. This is expected to be powered by a 170bhp 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine, which features the same SCi technology.
However, the story will not end there, as Ford has some big plans in store. The development of the new Fiesta is central to a much wider plan of action when it comes to the company's small car line-up.
This will see the Fusion replaced at the same time by a fresh model, which is expected to be badged the B-MAX. It will rival the new breed of supermini-MPVs such as the Nissan Note and Skoda Roomster.
The B2xx platform will also be used in the US for the first time with a car called the Ecosport. And it has even been rumoured that Volvo - which is part of the Ford family - is considering an entry into the supermini market with the same chassis.