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Next-generation Ford EcoSport small crossover spotted testing

Ford's tiny SUV looks ready for a redo

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The 2018 Ford EcoSport small SUV has only just arrived, but we're already getting a glimpse of what's more than likely the next version of this subcompact sport-utility. That's because while the EcoSport is new to the U.S. — where it takes on the likes of pint-size rivals like the Chevrolet Trax, Kia Soul, and Honda HR-V — the model itself has been present in other global markets since 2012.

So it's not out of the question that, sooner rather than later, the little EcoSport is going to get some very big updates. For the moment, however, the bulk of changes are hiding beneath the skin of a heavily modified Fiesta hatchback. No big surprise there, since the EcoSport and Fiesta are based on the same platform.

At only 161.3 inches in total length, the current EcoSport has petite dimensions that make it easy to park in an urban environment, but a highly truncated shape that makes it hard to love pretty much anywhere else. From these images, captured of a test mule undergoing some vigorous winter-weather testing, any potential replacement could sacrifice a little parallel-parking prowess for a more seductive shape.

A scan of the images shows that the wheelbase appears noticeably longer, as does the rear overhang (even in this disguise). Of course, with this much body camouflage, it's impossible to make any final judgment regarding the next EcoSport's design aesthetic.

One curious detail also lurks toward the back, where the side glass meets the roof and rear of the car. There's a small upward kink that, in these photos, appears to be blacked-out by plastic and tape. You might think Ford is leaving the door open — pun intended — toward integrating rear door handles into the car's C-pillar. But on second look, the silver-colored door handles on this mule look pretty decent as they are. Our guess is that this black plastic is simply covering a small window, to aid in rear visibility.

The current EcoSport is available with two engines: a turbocharged 1.0-liter three-cylinder coupled with front-wheel drive, and a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that comes with all-wheel drive. Either engine is fitted with a six-speed automatic transmission. It's impossible to say what's lurking under the hood of this test vehicle, though it's worth remembering that Ford recently jettisoned the turbo three-cylinder from its Fiesta subcompact here in the U.S. That could mean the current Fiesta's 1.6-liter four-cylinder might become the new standard engine, with the 2.0-liter remaining optional.

An updated EcoSport could debut later this year, possibly at the Paris Auto Show in the fall.

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