Friends, we have something of a mystery on our hands here. Most automotive spy photos carry at least some mysteries within, but this is a vehicle we haven't seen before, and there's very little information on it. We give credit to the folks at Kia – they can keep a secret.

With that in mind, we believe this camouflaged sedan is the next-generation Kia Forte. We use that name loosely, because some markets know it as the Cerato and we're hearing it could be called K4 once the covers are lifted. There's also a possibility it could be the K3, as that's another designation for the current Forte in certain regions. That adds another level of confusion since Kia recently revealed a new K3 sedan in Mexico, but that K3 is an evolution of the subcompact Rio. The car captured in these photos is notably larger. So whatever badge it ends up wearing, know that this is an evolution of the Forte. Everyone got that?

Gallery: Kia Forte / K4 New Spy Photos

Now, let's take a closer look at this sedan. Caught in California, we see a completely new front clip with vertically oriented lights similar to what we see on the new Sorento and Picanto. Bright LED strips are clearly visible through the covers, forming a boundary between the lights, grille, and hood. We can see the LEDs form a T-shape as they wrap around the fenders, doubling as daytime running lights and turn signals. A mesh grille appears to span the distance between the lights, blending to form a single structure. It's a complete departure from the current Forte, and it's distinctive from the recently revealed K3 as well.

We get strong Forte vibes in profile view. The visible portions of the fenders show similar body lines for the hood, and the roof matches the current car. Further back, the Forte's distinctive C-pillar and kinked rear side glass also fit the bill, but the rear clip appears just as radically altered as the front. We see rectangular taillights that are vertically oriented, connected by a thin red strip spanning the trunk. We can also see tailpipes nestled underneath, telling us there's an internal combustion engine under the hood.

Kia Forte K4 Rear View Spy Photo
Kia Forte K4 Front View Spy Photo
Kia Forte K4 Rear View Spy Photo

That's where our information on this new Kia thins out. Photos offer fleeting glimpses into the interior, but covers obscure details on the dash. There could be a large single screen incorporating driver and center infotainment displays, similar to the new K3. As such, engine options could also be shared with the K3, namely a pair of naturally aspirated four-pots displacing 1.6 or 2.0 liters.

The current-generation Kia Forte debuted in 2018 as a 2019 model, and received a facelift for 2021. If this is a next-gen model, we may not see it fully revealed until sometime next year.

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