By: Jason Woosey

Albeit good value, the current Kia Cerato hatchback looked bland and dated from the day it went on sale. But its successor - unveiled at the Chicago Auto Show on Thursday - has an eye-catching design that may even shake things up in the segment if the price is right.

What you see here is the US-market version, which goes by the name of Forte, yet the global version is unlikely to be very different to this. Kia South Africa has already confirmed that the new hatch will reach our shores in the third quarter of this year, following hot on the heels of the new Cerato sedan in May and trailing the year-end introduction of the new Koup.


Yet if there's one thing that interests us more than the design of the new Cerato hatch, it's what's under the bonnet of the US flagship version - the same 150kW/264Nm 1.6-litre turbopetrol engine that was recently announced in the Pro_cee’d GT.

Although this engine has yet to be officially confirmed for the local Cerato models, we're certainly holding thumbs and we'd be surprised if it didn't at least find its way into the new Koup - which has yet to be revealed.

We expect that standard versions of the new Cerato five-door will mirror the sedan in offering a choice between two normally aspirated petrol engines - a 95kW/157Nm 1.6 and 118kW/194Nm 2-litre. Manual and automatic gearboxes will be on offer, both with six forward ratios.

Local spec levels are also unconfirmed as yet, but the US range-topper offers a neat range of high-end features like HID headlights, 10-way electrically-adjustable driver's seat, heated front and rear seats and dual-zone climate control.

Interestingly, one of Kia's design aims with the Forte/Cerato five-door was to give it a "distinctly European appearance" yet Europe will not be receiving this model as those markets already have the newly-launched, second-generation Cee'd and Pro_cee'd.

Is this the 'wannabe European' model then?

Not that we're complaining.