The Kia Picanto has been caught testing on Indian roads, pointing to a possible entry to the market for the Korean brand in the near future. Kia has had its eye on India for some years now, and this may be evidence that plans are moving forward. The Picanto is based on – and will sit alongside – the Hyundai i10, if it comes to India.
There are some visual similarities to the i10, especially at the back, but the overall styling treatment of the Kia is sharper and very attractive. There is a very bold front end, with a distinctive grille, large headlamps and a big front air dam. The sides are well sculpted with a thick crease running up the shoulder line, leading to a pair of funky, boomerang-shaped taillights.
In international markets, the Kia brand is marketed as a more stylish, fun and youth-focused alternative to its more family-oriented counterpart, Hyundai – with which it shares platforms for almost all its models. The advantage Kia has is that it would be able to use Hyundai’s Indian production facilities for its cars, which would bring down the cost of entry tremendously. However, Hyundai’s current facility is at capacity and the company is looking at opening an additional production unit, possibly in Gujarat, so the introduction of Kia could be part of this expansion. Given the Indian success of platform-sharing brands VW and Skoda, this would be a good move for Hyundai.
If the Picanto on test is anything to go by, it means Kia will kick off its Indian innings in the small car segment, which is a wise choice, given this market’s preference for hatchbacks. We expect it to be equipped similarly to the i10, which means it will definitely sit outside the budget zone and closer to the bigger, premium hatch segment.
Other cars Kia could bring to India include the Sonata-based Optima, Elantra-based Cerato and the Sportage and Sorento SUVs.
Issue: 165 | May 2013
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