The mystery surrounding the Kia Picanto test mule circling Chennai city deepens with each passing day. It started in late December with a lime green model that had its badges taped to hide its identity from prying eyes (and failing miserably in the process) was spotted by us late in the evening. Following this, a couple of our readers spotted it near the Marina beach driven by an angered tester.
In 2012 we have a camouflaged model that thinks its a yellow zebra with cloaked front and rear fascias testing in Chennai. This leads to four points of speculation.
Speculation 1 - Kia wants to facelift the Picanto
The redesigned Picanto was confirmed in January last year and was brought to the world stage at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2011. Within 12 months of its release, why will Hyundai facelift the model? An educated guess would be Hyundai's redesigning parts of the front and rear fascia for markets outside Korea where it sells the car.
Point 2 - Kia wants to participate in the fast-growing Indian market
Kia may have logged into forums and blogs that have carried these images, saw the love India has for its cars, and decided to advance the inevitable - launch the Picanto and the Kia brand in India as a stylish alternative to a Maruti or a Hyundai.
Point 3 - The next generation i10's plastic components (code - BA) are testing on the Kia's body
Its an usual practice by car manufacturers to test certain components of a forthcoming product using a different body. The EcoSport's front grille and headlight assembly was being tested on a Fiesta body. Even as we write this, Jaguar is testing parts of the upcoming supercar CX-16 using the Jaguar XJ. The next generation i10 could use the Picanto's help to test out some components.
Point 4 - Kia just wants more attention from forums and blogs in India
Kia's bosses maybe loving the positive praise their cars are receiving on enthusiast forums and blogs even though India has not seen or driven Kia models. Loads of spyshots of the lime-green model float around the internet and to give new fodder for speculation and praise, Kia may have ordered the testers to find ways to up the ante.
We're puzzled by what a Kia is doing in India. A representative from the brand has to tell India what's going on otherwise these wild rounds of speculation will go on. Is this global testing or is there something more to this test mule?
[Spyshots sourced from Facebook.com/MotorVikatan]