The upcoming Cerato is revealed in a shiny new suit at the Los Angeles Auto Show with the promise of a four-door sedan, five-door coupe and the two-door Koup to be rolled out through next year.
The Cerato triplets pick up the latest Korean mechanical package from the Hyundai i30 but, crucially, will benefit from the Australianisation which has given Kia's cars a driving edge over the equivalent Hyundai models sold in Australia.
The car was designed in Los Angeles and is badged as the Forte for America, but only those badges - and the final tweaking - will change for Australia "It's called the Forte in the US, but it is our Cerato," confirms Kevin Hepworth of Kia Motors Australia in LA.
"The sedan will be in April, followed but the five-door - probably in July - and the two-door Koup very late in the year. "The Cerato is our volume car. The sedan is one of our main fleet cars and the hatch is the top selling model. Even in runout at the moment the old car is selling strongly."
He cannot talk about Cerato pricing, which currently starts just a little under $20,000 for both the sedan and hatch, but is not forecasting any dramatic change for customers. "We've got no idea on price at this stage. But it will be typical Kia, so if there is an increase at all it won't be a big increase," Hepworth says.
The emphasis in LA is on the car's design, including a significant upgrade of cabin quality and extra standard equipment at all levels. But the third-generation car is also longer, lower and wider than the one it will replace.
The styling is bold and, in some ways, the Cerato looks like a shrunken Optima. Inside, it looks good and the American models are promised with everything from Bluetooth streaming and fan-forced seat cooling to satellite radio and an LCD dashboard display.
None of the equipment, or a mechanical package with two engines and six-speed manuals and autos for America, is confirmed yet for Australia. "It's largely about the design at the moment. And timing is important, because last time we didn't have a hatch until 18 months from the end of the model," says Hepworth.
"At the moment the engines look like a carryover 2-litre from the existing model. But the ride-and-handling team have got to the car quite early and done significant work. "We have the timing, we have a natural progression of models, and it's a style-driven vehicle."