These spy photographs of the Kia K3 finally show it in Malaysian trim fully undisguised. We’ve seen the test units running around here twice before, the first time as early as November last year, mere months after the model’s global reveal. Removing the black coveralls reveals a big surprise: Kia’s C-segment contender will be badged as a Cerato over here.

We may be unfamiliar with the name but Kia has used it for a long time, tracing back to the old pre-Forte Spectra sedan and hatchback. Australia, South Africa and Brazil only ever knew the original Forte as a Cerato, and our neighbour Singapore used both nameplates and called it the Kia Cerato Forte. Why would Naza decide to rename it now? Let the speculation begin.

The white car pictured here has a ‘2.0’ badge on it, confirming that there will be two engine options on the new car. It appears to have a sunroof fitted, leading us to believe the red unit sans the black cutaway to be a base 1.6 litre model. In other markets, the direct-injected smaller motor makes 138 hp and 167 Nm while the 2.0 litre bumps it up to 173 hp and 209 Nm.

Both cars appear identical otherwise with shiny 17-inch alloys (the largest design available), LED DRLs and projector (possibly xenon) headlamps. Early looks say the Cerato will retain the Forte’s class-leading specs legacy with even more style. The local launch should be just around the corner now, and more details are sure to be revealed real soon. Just remember, it’s the Kia Cerato, not Forte.