• Feb 16, 2011
Mystery Kia spy shots – Click above for high-res image gallery

Every once in a while, a set of spy photos comes through that makes us stare at our computer screens like we're looking for the secret image inside of a Magic Eye stereogram picture. This is one of those cases, as we simply aren't sure what to make of this diminutive Kia prototype.

Our best guess is that this is a new kei car for the Japanese market, as its uber-boxy dimensions and teeny-tiny wheels are fitting of the small MPVs that roam the streets of Japan. However, because we can't get a good feeling for how big this car actually is, there's a chance that Kia could be working on a sub-Soul two-box. But from where we sit, those wheels simply way look too small for consumption here in the United States (imagine hitting a Detroit-spec pothole with those tiny tires), so we're thinking that whatever this prototype blossoms into, we likely won't see it on our shores.

Our shooters note that the rear doors differ from side-to-side, with the left side offering a conventional front-hinged door and the right side opting for a slider, giving it an MPV-like quality. Either way, this mystery box looks rather far along in development, so we'd expect to see it in production sooner rather than later, perhaps with a 2013 model year.

Have a look at the spy shots in our high-res gallery below, and wager your best guess as to what's lurking under the camouflage in Comments.



[Source: CarPix]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 29 Comments
      • 3 Years Ago
      This more has me thinking that it could be one of the kei cars Toyota is launching later this year (I think there are 4 of them) based off Daihatsu models... the door arrangement is the same as that of the Daihatsu Tanto, except on opposite sides... plus the headlamp and grille arrangement match the current Tanto. Windowline is less Tanto and more Suzuki Palette/Solio however... And because it looks a tad too long to be a kei car from some angles it could also be the replacement for the Toyota bB/Daihatsu Coo/Subaru Dex, as it has similar styling and sliding doors to the just-released 2011 Suzuki Solio, a direct rival, plus the nose is similar to the current Coo/Materia
      Either way, nothing about this other than the low down grille says Kia to me at all...
      • 3 Years Ago
      in this day and age, I'd say it's Kei car too. the original Mini was so groundbreaking, with so much usable room, and outstanding go kart-like handling precisely because of its tiny 10 inch wheels, but we won't see a mainstream car like that again. The weight of 10 airbags and other safety systems probably weigh as much as the entire first Mini so tires and brakes need to be larger, which take up more room, which make a car heavier. And larger. Vicious cycle. But we're safer.
        • 3 Years Ago
        What? No drawing on your blog of what 'Kia should make'?
      • 3 Years Ago
      Definitely, this small boxy is not for Americans.
      It's about 141 inches in length and 60-63 inches in height - bigger than Japanese Kei cars.
      Daihatsu Tanto must be a benchmark, see below.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5TJt86a1nYU

      You will understand what this kind of "minivanlet" is for when you live in the city with 10 millions, where you find your minivans or pickups are too big to fit into the parking "cage".
      Get slim.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Are you sure this is a Kia? The A-segment Picanto was already released, and there really isn't any need to go any smaller. These wheels and proportions make this look like a "Kei" car, and aside from the smart fortwo and the occasional rebadged Suzuki as a Chevy, there aren't any non JDM Kei's. The import tariffs and extremely limited market make venturing into the Kei segment absolutely foolish.

      It looks like a Daihatsu or some Toyota product, not a Kia.
      • 3 Years Ago
      That image reminds me of the first generation of the Honda Element. Must be the camo.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Wow those are some tiny wheels.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Are those 10's or 20's?

        Uh, they're... they're 10's.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Looks like an attempt to re-do the Subaru Sambar.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Maybe I'm wrong but this looks LONGER than a Soul. If it has a sliding door it would kind of have to be, wouldn't it?
        • 3 Years Ago
        You're looking at a picture on a computer screen. There's no real way to gauge the size of it, let alone compare it to the size of the Soul.
      • 3 Years Ago
      You fools! That doesn't say "Kia", it says "Kenmore".
      • 3 Years Ago
      "Honey, I shrunk the Xb!" (Right... and there was no US market for those, either. Uh-huh.)
        • 3 Years Ago
        This is a Kei car, not a compact van like the xB. The xB is a MUCH larger car than what a Kei car is.

        Take the current Mini, put it right next to the old Ford Excursion. That's the size difference between a Kei car and the xB.
        • 3 Years Ago
        A Kei car's length is limited to about 133.5 inches. The first generation Xb was 155.3 inches long. Therefore, a Kei car could be about 86 percent the length of an Xb.
      • 3 Years Ago
      If we see this on the road those damned hamsters better shut the frak up.
      • 3 Years Ago
      You've got to love a car that ignores everything we've learned about aerodynamics in the past 100 years.
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