Here's a new twist to the Kia Picantos spotted testing in Chennai.
[Why would a company completely camouflage one mule, and leave the badges and markings untouched in another?]
Late last year, we spotted a lime green Kia Picanto in Velachery, Chennai that became an instant rage on the internet. Hyundai fans and owners wrote in saying this should be standing alongside the i10 at the dealers, after all both cars are based on the same platform, and share the drivetrain. Manufacturing it should certainly pose no challenges.
The rumor that Kia is testing to make their way into the Indian market was squashed after our sources confirmed that the LHD Picanto was imported from Korea to test engines for Hyundai.
Hyundai wasn't amused with these pictures floating around the internet, the reason we think made them properly camouflage the test mule. The car continues to test in Chennai and we receive pictures regularly from our readers. One fan Aditya Narayan even managed to carry out a photo shoot of the static car near his home!
We thought the chapter ended there, but the elusive Picanto would rear its head again. It was back under the spotlight when our reader Kumaran mailed us a snap of a dark brown example from a highway outside Chennai. We played out the story without doubts, maybe Hyundai were testing out another engine or fuel option?
Today we have a reason to believe there are two Kia Picanto test mules testing for different reasons and companies.
Besides the number plates revealing that the cars are registered by different RTO offices, we are being told that the brown test mule is not brought down by Hyundai. It could be a benchmark model of another company.
[Left - Ashok Kumar spotted the same dark brown Picanto alongside the Maharashtra-registered Beat near the Oragadam junction in Chennai; Right - Rohan snagged the lime green Picanto inside Chennai city one evening last month]
We believe this company maybe Mahindra who are benchmarking features and abilities of the Picanto for their forthcoming compact vehicle that is codenamed S101. Mahindra can use other vehicles such as the Figo, Beat (image on the left, with the MH 15 registration) and Polo during the S101's development for benchmarking reasons, our source notes.
There is no way we can get this information verified, the companies are tight lipped about forthcoming products, but perhaps you know something we don't? The comment box is right below!
Photo credits - 'Lemon Grass' Kia Picanto spotted by Rohan Dhanraj; 'Cafe Mocha' Kia Picanto captured by Ashok Kumar.