First Look: 2012 Kia Cee'd

The first-generation Kia Cee'd ushered in a new design language for Kia in Europe, and it looks as if history is about to repeat itself. The next-generation Cee'd, which is slated to debut at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show in March, appears to push the design envelope even further.

The latest Cee'd - which is likely to remain a European exclusive - remains a hatchback, but shares only its daylight opening shape with its forebear. The new Cee'd packs plenty of Kia's latest design DNA into a compact vehicle: the corporate "tiger nose" grille is more prominent than ever, and flanked by long, tapered headlamps and a dramatically flared hood. As usual, the car also receives LED running lamps placed along the lower edges of the headlamp housings.

Further back, the new Cee'd shares a number of cues with the smaller Rio: taillights are mounted high up the curvaceous rear end, although the bumper cut echoes the shape of the hatch stamping itself. The lower diffuser is also a little more sophisticated, with raised accents surrounding the rear reflectors, license plate, and lower diffuser.

Inside, the interior is anything but drab. Like the Optima, the Cee'd's instrument panel wraps into the center stack. Grey plastic materials used on the dashboard itself are broken up with strips of glossy piano black trim. Door panels are two-toned, and the leather seats shown here feature contrast stitching. The look is refreshingly high-end - which is welcome, considering the C-segment continues to move upmarket in around the globe.

As for the mechanicals, it's still anyone's guess: Kia has been tight-lipped about the car's selection of engines. Currently, European models feature a range of gasoline and diesel engines that make anywhere between 89 and 126 horsepower, but it's been rumored that the Procee'd, the three-door version of the Cee'd, could make use of the the same 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine used in the new Hyundai Veloster Turbo.

Also unknown at the moment is whether or not this car will make it to the United States. We wouldn't be surprised if it didn't: after all, the previous Cee'd was designed expressly for the European market, which left North America with the Forte. We may not see a Cee'd on our shores, but we can only hope the next Kia C-segment offering for North America looks this good.

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