The current Kia Optima may still look fresh, but in actual fact it’s four years old now. Given the shorter lifespans of Korean cars, this means that a brand new model is on the horizon, and these spyshots show that a fifth generation of the brand’s D-segment sedan is indeed under development.

Despite the camouflage, the mule is recognisably an Optima, sporting the striking criss-cross C-pillar design that was introduced on the third-generation TF model – and which now also appears on the Stinger. It’s a good job, then, that the flagship rear-wheel drive sports sedan has repaid the favour by lending some of its styling cues to its littler sibling.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the front end, where it’s clear that the new Optima will look even more aggressive compared to the outgoing JF. The slim “tiger nose” grille, large centre air intake and slim BMW-style corner air inlets are reminiscent of the Stinger, and the slim headlights also look to have been separated from the grille, just like the larger model.

Moving further back, the mirrors have been moved from the corners of the side windows to the tops of the door panels (again, just like the Stinger), while the rear end features broad tail lights and a number plate recess that now sits on the bumper. The diffuser sports fake twin tailpipes on the cars you see here.

The next Optima will be based on the latest Hyundai Sonata and should come with the same engines, including new Smartstream 2.5 litre naturally-aspirated and 1.6 litre turbocharged petrol engines, along with the Smartstream 2.0 GDi HEV hybrid powertrain.