FORD has unveiled its next generation Fiesta, which has been the best selling car in Britain for the past seven years, but motorists will have to wait to drive until September 2017 when it officially goes on sale.
Revealing for the first time the seventh generation new model to over 2,500 dealers and media at the ‘home' of the Fiesta where it's now made at the Niehl factory in Cologne, Ford of Europe boss Jim Farley admitted it was always going to be a tough act to follow on from the huge success of the current model.
"The competition gets harder all the time but we are renowned for innovation and creativity constantly bringing in new ideas and concepts to our ever changing model line-up to attract more motorists to our products," he declared.
"This new Fiesta is typical of this because it has so many new technological advances and overall improvements in design, content and levels of comfort over the current model."
Aside from all the razzamatazz of the colourful and noisy unveiling show he also confirmed that Ford would also soon have more electric powered models available, including the Fiesta and Focus.
"We are fully committed to this because we know many drivers dream of owning an electric car," he continued. "We are currently spending over Â£3 million on these development and aim to have 13 new electric vehicles available across Europe by 2020."
Ford has just announced a tie-up with BMW, Daimler, the VW Group and Porsche in a joint venture to provide more ultra-fast high powered electric car charging sites alongside major European motorways offering power levels up to 350 KW.
The first 400 will come on stream next year with thousands more planned to open by 2020, including in the UK.
As regards the new Fiesta it's clear that Ford's aim is to move it more up market as there was huge emphasis during the 90 minute moving motorshow style launch ceremony of four distinct new Fiesta versions.
These are a new Sport ST-Line, Titanium and an expensive Vignale model plus for the first time an Active Crossover model which will come here in 2018 and will be followed by other ‘adventure' type versions in other Ford models.
Less publicised at the launch was confirmation that at the so-called cheaper end of the Fiesta range the two current models - the entry-level Style and the Zetec - will be available with the new-look model.
Prices for any of these new Fiesta obviously won't be revealed until next summer but most observers believe they will start between the Â£13,000 and Â£14,000 mark while Ford bosses see the recently launched Ka+ being more of an attractive buyer to the budget-conscious family motorists with its basic prices of £8,999 and £9,995.
In terms of styling too most motorists will perhaps at first glance think this new Fiesta has changed little and in reality it hasn't although with some small, subtle styling changes it's significantly different.
Exterior designer George Saridakis explained: "Obviously with the last Fiesta so successful with its particular strong visual appeal you have to careful not destroy it's kind of DNA on the skin so this time around it was a case of evolution rather than revolution."
He added: "It was more a case of having a mature approach to it and I think that is what we have done with a simple, less fussy styling yet it's prettier to eye."
The new Fiesta is 71mm longer, 12mm wider and with a 4mm longer wheelbase with more swept back headlight and neater if split wrap around tailgate lights giving a distinct chunkier look at the rear.
It's inside there the most noticeable changes have been made with a now wider dashboard that includes a better infotainment system - it's a tablet-style touch screen too as drivers now expect today and the whole of the car's ergonomics are so much better than on the current model.
There's a host of mechanical changes underneath too, including improved suspension, while all models we are told benefit from a variety of some 15 driving assistant technologies available with some being offered as options while more will be standard features on the more up market and dearer the model.
These include a first in this class of a pedestrian detection system plus active park assist with brake intervention at low speed bumps when parking hands-free while all models will benefit from road noise reduction.
There's also an impressive new panoramic sunroof, which can be opened, which again will be an option on most models and like rival car makers Ford will be offering a variety of optional personalisation touches for motorist to choose to make their car individually styled.
Enginewise the initial line-up is much the same as in the current range although there will be three different outputs - 98, 123 and 138bhp - from Ford's award winning EcoBoost one-litre petrol engine while the old 1.1-litre petrol engine remains with a choice of either 69 or 84bhp.
Interesting new diesel addition is a 138bhp 1.5-litre TDCi - the first high powered diesel offered in a Fiesta - and a 84bhp diesel engine.
A new, six-speed manual gearbox will be standard across the range as will stop-start which will be another first for the Fiesta.