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The upcoming 2017 Ford Fiesta ST has been caught by our European spy photographers, confirming that the much-loved hot hatch will follow the cooking model into a new (seventh) generation.

Covered in camouflage, there’s not much to differentiate the ST from the regular model, but the deeper front air dam, larger wheels (18-inch items, perhaps?), bigger brakes (with rear discs instead of drums) and twin exhaust pipes mark it out as a sportier offering. In line with the Fiesta’s move upmarket, the next ST will grow quite a bit larger than the current car, which should free up some much needed rear legroom.

One thing to note here is that the mule is wearing a five-door body, instead of the three-door that is the sole body style offered for the current ST in most markets. That could mean that the new car will be available with a more-doored option, or that Ford will simply axe the three-door Fiesta altogether, as Renault has done with the Clio. Of course, it could be just a North American mule – the ST is sold only as a five-door there.

Spy-Shots of Cars This image has been optimized for a calibrated screen with a Gamma of 2.2 and a colour temperature of 6500°K

The new Fiesta is expected to be underpinned by the same Global B platform as the current 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 new 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.

Expect the upcoming Fiesta ST to retain the existing 1.6 litre EcoBoost turbocharged four-cylinder engine, but with outputs exceeding the current car’s 182 PS and 240 Nm – Ford has already pushed the mill to 200 PS and 290 Nm with the ST200. As with the current car, drive should be sent to the front wheels via a good ol’ six-speed manual gearbox.

It’ll have a mountain of expectations to climb, this car. The current ST was probably the most lauded car in the world when it was unveiled in 2013, and although it did not win our hot hatch shootout outright two years ago, it was roundly praised for being the best to drive – all but one of us at the time put the ST on our Top Five list that year.