Could this be an early prototype for the next-generation Ecosport? Or is it the upcoming 'mini Bronco'?

A development mule based on the Ford Fiesta has been spotted by photographers this week, leading us to believe the Blue Oval has an all-new small crossover in the works.

First spotted in March, the prototype was initially believed to be an early development vehicle for the upcoming 'mini Bronco' off-roader due around 2020, however, this may not be the case.

Given the mule is based around the new-generation Fiesta hatchback, and was spotted in Europe, we'd argue this vehicle is the work of Ford's European division, which is headquartered in Germany.

The new model won't be a jacked-up Fiesta, because the new light hatch is already offered in 'Active' specification overseas, which raises the ride height and adds off-road-inspired cladding to the bumpers and wheel arches – there's no point in doubling up.

What we see here could be the basis of the next-generation Ecosport, which is currently based on the previous-generation Fiesta's underpinnings, and lacks a lot of the modern safety technologies offered by the company's wider range.

Modifications to this Fiesta include bolt-on extensions to the wheel arches, chunkier bumpers, and a raised ride height.

However, this prototype only has four bolts on each wheel, as opposed to the five that adorned the rims of the vehicle spied earlier this year, nor does it have an extended rear section.

Going by the rather rough and tacked-on looks of this prototype, the production car could still be at least two years away – though that would be around the same time the Ecosport would be due to be replaced, since the current facelifted version was first revealed in 2016.

Stay tuned to CarAdvice for all the latest, and click here for more images.

What do you reckon Ford is working on?