A shark nose and boomerang lights could make this a spicy little SUV.

We know what you're thinking. Didn't Kia recently update the Niro? The answer is very much yes, as the refreshed 2020 Niro debuted barely a year ago. Kia and parent company Hyundai are on a fast track for product updates, and the Niro is already deep into testing for its next-generation. These images offer us our first taste of what to expect.

And what do we see? Heavy camouflage front and rear with some bare metal in the middle tells us the overall design will remain familiar to Niro fans, but some big changes are in store. Perhaps most interesting here is that Kia doesn't try to hide the sporty changes at the C-pillar, and bare fenders at the A-pillar reveal a different hood. Moving further forward, black tarps hide details of the Niro's new face but it certainly pushes outward like the shark nose featured on the Habaniro concept from 2019.

Gallery: 2022 Kia Niro First Spy Photos

We can see more Habaniro influence at the back, where faux cladding and tarps are even heavier. However, the prototype still needs visible lights for on-road testing, and the camo doesn't hide the prominent boomerang taillights that also graced the concept. It's hard to say what else might be hiding under the bulky backside, but we're pretty confident the wrapped doors contain more plastic cladding to match what we see on the wheel arches.

At this early stage, we have no information on the Niro's interior other than to say changes are coming. Zooming in on some of the spy shots, we can see heavy covers across the dash and there's no evidence of a floating touchscreen. The current Niro isn't a bad place to be, but with the trend of simplification found in other brands, expect fewer buttons and larger displays. Similarly, we don't have knowledge of what's happening under the hood. We expect the crossover will endure in three versions – electric, hybrid, and internal combustion – though details are still mum.

One thing we do know is that a reveal won't happen anytime soon, since the current refresh is barely a year old. The earliest estimate places the next-gen Niro debuting about a year from now as a 2022 model.

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