Spied! Is This Test Mule a New EcoSport, Baby Ford Bronco, or Something Else?
When developing new vehicles, automakers often turn to models already in their stable to use as starting points. As a bonus, they get familiar bodywork to help disguise their new product and misdirect onlookers. With that said, it can be almost impossible to tell what these early prototypes might end up becoming later down the line. For example, our spy photographer recently captured what appears to be a Euro-spec 2018 Ford Fiesta, but a few interesting details lead us to wonder if this mule is something else entirely. Is it a next-gen EcoSport, or perhaps a very early mule for the Ford Bronco-inspired crossover due in 2020? Take a look, and decide for yourself.
At first glance, this appears to be merely a lifted European Fiesta. Look closer and you’ll notice that the body has been stretched from the C-pillar back, and the rear wheel well is misshapen. The wheel arches also wear tacked on fender flares, suggesting a wider track to go with the obviously longer wheelbase. Also curious are the five-lug wheels, since current Fiesta and EcoSport models all get four-lug hardware.
Ford’s upcoming off-road small crossover
Though the prototype has clearly been stretched, it still might not be big enough to be the as-yet-unnamed off-road crossover announced last week. Ford gave few details on the upcoming Bronco-inspired model, but it did say to expect a vehicle about the size of the Escape crossover. The European-market Fiesta has a roughly 98-inch wheelbase, which is nearly 8 inches shorter than that of the current Escape. It’s difficult to say how much longer this prototype is than a standard Fiesta, but adding 8 inches would require a lot of work. Still, might this vehicle be close to Escape size with a boxier production body on it? It’s possible, but we’re having trouble imagining it.
Another possibility is the next-gen EcoSport, which is due for a replacement in a couple years. It may have only arrived in the U.S. last year, but the EcoSport has been available globally since 2012. The EcoSport’s wheelbase is slightly longer than the sixth-generation Fiesta on which it’s based. If this actually is an EcoSport mule, that means you can expect the next-gen model to grow in size.
We still don’t know exactly what model this test mule previews, but clearly Ford’s appetite for crossovers continues to be strong.