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It may be hard to believe just by looking at its thrusting, hardly-aged styling, but the current sixth-generation B299 Ford Fiesta is now a staggering eight years old, so Ford is hard at work on building a replacement for 2017 – as you can see in these photos from our European spies.

From the looks of it, the company is aiming for a more mature, sophisticated look compared to the outgoing model’s edgy design, while still being recognisably a Ford. There are larger headlights, a sleeker upwards window line kink and two-piece horizontal tail lights that replace the existing vertical units. Dare I say it, it gives off the vibe of being a smaller Focus.

Smaller than its big brother it will be still, but the new Fiesta appears to be quite a bit larger than its petite predecessor, which should help free up much needed rear space – a bugbear on the current model. Nowhere is this more obvious than the wheels – this prototype wears the 17-inch alloys from the Fiesta ST, which look massive on the existing model, but they look just about the right size here.

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Expected to underpin the new Fiesta is the same Global B platform as the B299, but will move up the food chain in terms of price, quality, refinement and features, both to cater to the more discerning tastes of today’s customers, as well as to make room for the upcoming European Ka, based on the Indian-market Figo.

The money saved on using the existing platform should enable Ford to address the biggest concern with the current Fiesta, which is the low-rent interior. Not only are materials and build quality expected to be improved in the new one, but it should also make room for the large eight-inch capacitive touchscreen on Ford’s latest SYNC 3 infotainment system.

While SYNC 3 is already being offered as an option on the current model in the United States, the dashboard has had to be mutilated and stretched to fit the display, and it looks incongruous as a result. The new interior design should be designed from the outset to carry the system.

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Other features expected to make it onto the new car include driver assist systems such as pedestrian detection (Active City Stop is already offered on the Fiesta in Europe), lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring and traffic sign detection.

Under the bonnet, expect the Fiesta’s engine lineup to consist mostly of the 1.0 litre EcoBoost turbo petrol three-pot and the current 1.5 litre TDCI four-pot turbodiesel, and could see the current naturally-aspirated 1.25, 1.5 and 1.6 litre four-cylinder petrol engines be phased out altogether. As with the current car, a warm ST variant should top the range at some point, but an all-singing, all-dancing RS model is off the cards.