Ford Authority

A Test Mule For Ford’s Small ‘Mini-Bronco’ Off-Road SUV May Have Been Spotted: Spy Shots

Spy photographers recently captured a rather unusual sight on camera: a test mule based on a lifted Ford Fiesta subcompact. The mysterious test mule was being tossed around in the snow when photographed, and there’s one rather intriguing possibility for what it could be previewing: Ford’s future small off-road SUV, which was officially announced last week.

You can find the spy shots over on the Motor1 website.

As that outlet points out, this Ford Fiesta-based test mule doesn’t just ride higher than the factory subcompact; it’s also had its wheelbase lengthened, with extra material tacked at the C-pillar, and it wears a set of small fender extensions to accommodate a wider track width. In none of the shots can we make out what sort of tires it’s rolling on, but crucially, the wheels seen here are a five-bolt design, where the stock Ford Fiesta uses four-bolt hubs.

If the spied Ford Fiesta-based test mule is indeed for Ford’s forthcoming small off-road SUV, that likely means that the future “Bronco Jr.” will utilize unibody – not body-on-frame – construction. While sure to ruffle a few feathers, it’s not necessarily such a bad thing; the Jeep Cherokee has used a unibody design since the lauded XJ iteration introduced in 1984.

We can also surmise that the new off-roader will be only slightly larger than the outgoing Ford Fiesta subcompact, which ought to lend it tremendous off-road agility.

Ford’s small off-road SUV, which doesn’t yet have a name, is slated to debut by 2020. It’s part of a new product offensive that will see Ford replacing more than 75 percent of its product portfolio and introducing four brand-new truck and SUV nameplates. We can likely look forward to a public unveiling sometime later this year or next.

Aaron Brzozowski is a writer and motoring enthusiast from Detroit with an affinity for '80s German steel. He is not active on the Twitter these days, but you may send him a courier pigeon.

Subscribe to Ford Authority

For around-the-clock Ford news coverage

We'll send you one email per day with the latest Ford updates. It's totally free.


  1. tw

    I for one hope and pray this is not the upcoming Bronco Jr. As noted in the Motor1 piece it looks nothing like the teaser. I love love love the vehicle in the teaser photo, zero interest in the test mule. The teaser photo looks like it’s ready to take on Jeep, the test mules looks like an updated Fiesta. I’m in the market for a new small CUV, the teaser really peaks my interest and test mule again zero interest.

    Also how do writers know what vehicles are what based on a photo of vehicle that usually has so much camouflage cladding? And make specific claims like a lengthened wheelbase – this test mule looks a regular Fiesta? It amazes how auto writers can make such claims .


Leave a comment