European market range will consist of Active (crossover) plus ST-Line, Titanium and Vignale model grades

European market range will consist of Active (crossover) plus ST-Line, Titanium and Vignale model grades

Ford has revealed the eighth generation Fiesta to 2,500 onlookers at a special event inside its Niehl plant. The Cologne factory will be the lead global manufacturing location but the company has admitted to just-auto that production will not commence until July.

Both three- and five-door hatchbacks were shown, and these will be marketed across Europe in three model grades: Titanium, ST-Line and Vignale. There will also be a crossover; the first in the model's 40-year history. This has roof rails, wheel arch extensions and raised suspension.

What about the sedan replacement?

A replacement for the Fiesta sedan was not part of the range of cars shown to the invited employees, journalists, writers, bloggers, vloggers and tweeters, nor was a successor for the ST. The four-door car might be presented at Shanghai motor show next April, while the ST may have its debut at either the NAIAS in Detroit or else a few months later at the Geneva show.

Ford of Europe is hoping that it can sell the next generation range at higher prices than had been the case with the current model. When the Ka+ went on sale in the region recently, the division quietly dropped the cheapest Fiestas in preparation for its strategy with the eighth generation model. This is a very risky strategy, given that the current car will be just a month short of nine years old when production is wound down at Niehl in June.

Next generation EcoBoost engine runs on two cylinders

Though it won't appear until 2018, the company has announced a new version of its 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine. This has deactivation for one cylinder, which will, the company claims, be an industry-first when the new unit goes on sale. The engine was developed by Ford engineers in England, Germany and the US, who worked with the Schaeffler Group. When the car is coasting or cruising with light demand, a single cylinder can be shut off at engine speeds of up to 4,500rpm - when valves are each opening and closing almost 40 times per second. The  system uses oil pressure to activate a valve rocker and interrupt the connection between the camshaft and the valves of cylinder number one.

Same platform but new, slightly longer body

The Mazda-engineered platform of the outgoing model, rebranded as Ford's Global B architecture, has been thoroughly updated for the new car. On the outside, the big changes occur at the rear, where the vertical tail lights of the sixth and seventh generation models are replaced by horizontal lamps. The side profile is not that different to the existing model but there is a fresh styling direction for the front end, which means an end to the Aston Martin-style grille. The biggest changes take place inside, where the dated dashboard and its tiny infotainment screen are replaced by a far more attractive design which includes touch screens up to eight inches in diameter.

Where else will it be manufactured?

In addition to production at Niehl, the next model should also be built by Changan-Ford in Nanjing, at Ford of India's Maraimalai Nagar plant (Chennai) in Tamil Nadu, in Brazil at São Bernardo do Campo, in Thailand by FTM (Rayong) and at CSAP in Mexico (Cuautitlán).

Ford is yet to state when production in Germany will get underway but this is expected to be in April or May. Cars for North America will follow in 2018.

See also: Ford's Fields trusts Trump administration to follow 'right policies'

Auto market intelligence
from just-auto

• Auto component fitment forecasts
• OEM & tier 1 profiles & factory finder
• Analysis of 30+ auto technologies & more