Images of what appear to be the next-generation 2018 Kia Cerato and/or Cee'd have surfaced online, showing the new small hatch parked without disguise on a South Korean street.
The new hatch bears the familiar 'tiger nose' grille worn by all Kia models, squashed and stretched here to take some inspiration from the powerful new Stinger sports sedan. It remains to be seen if the awkward position of the number plate is final, although a visible mounting point below the plate suggests it might eventually sit lower.
Tapered headlights reach back along the front quarters, posed at an aggressive angle to give the new hatch the same purposeful look of the outgoing Cee'd.
Styling through the body is decidedly more tame than on the model it replaces, with a flattened beltline and barely a character crease or fold to be seen in the door metal.
At the rear, the new hatch takes on a 'baby Optima Sportswagon' look, with largely identical tail lamps set above a more sculpted bumper design.
This gallery includes no interior shots, although our earlier spy photos reveal that we can expect a dash design more in-line with Kia's regular model range, rather than the heavily Euro-inspired Stinger cabin.
The big question here is whether this new hatch will again be sold exclusively to Europe as the Cee'd, or whether it will come to Australia as the Cerato.
Our understanding is that the Cerato name now has some decent cachet among Australian buyers, moving Kia to continue with that name here. In Korea, the Cerato is known as the K3, and in the US it wears Forte badges.
Given its similarity to the Proceed concept, this is at least the next Cee'd. But, with a new-generation Cerato confirmed for 2018 – and with no spy photos suggesting any other design is in the works for the Korean, Australian and US markets – it appears likely the Cee'd and Cerato will now be the same car with different badges.
At October's launch of the updated Sorento, Kia's local Chief Operations Officer, Damien Meredith, told CarAdvice that we can expect the new Cerato and Cee'd to be much closer in concept.
"They'll be a little bit different," Meredith said, acknowledging that the previous models wore distinctly unique designs. "[but] I think they'll be more closely aligned this time."
"I think what the brand's trying to do in western Europe [with Cee'd] is a little different," he added, but would not offer more on the topic.
Meredith said the current Cerato has been a success for the brand. "We've been aggressive with it, but it's worked very well for us."
This writer is expecting to see this very car unveiled at next month's Detroit motor show. Stay tuned for confirmation of its later launch as Australia's next Cerato.