Hyundai has been teasing the A-segment SUV it calls “Casper” for a while now. It should be available before the end of 2021. But not in the US. In Korea, Hyundai has been taking reservations at the dedicated Casper website.
Is Casper named after the “Friendly Ghost?”
Let’s address the name briefly. No, it is not named after Casper the Friendly Ghost. Instead, it takes its name from a skateboard-flipping stunt invented in the 1970s by Bobby “Casper” Boyden. With that out of the way, let’s look and lament at the pint-size Casper.
This segment of vehicles is popular in Asian countries because of weight and size tax laws that favor small cars. Vehicles like the Suzuki Ignis and Kia Picanto are just some of the mini-SUVs rivals. They’re small, and cars of this size have little penetration in the US market.
Part of Casper’s attraction is the short,stubby proportions
The Casper’s overall length is 141-inches, with a 94-inch wheelbase. It is as wide as it is tall at 62-inches, which makes for cute and stubby overall proportions. That is part of the attraction of the Casper.
The underlying platform is the same as the Picanto and the Hyundai !10. Power comes from a single three-cylinder engine that comes with or without turbocharging. With the turbo, it produces 99 hp, and without it pumps out 75 hp. A five-speed manual transmission sends power to the front wheels.
For the market in India, the Casper will get a four-cylinder with 83 hp. An EV version with an integrated drive module made by BorgWarner is expected in 2023. Production is set to begin in two weeks.
What markets will Casper be sold?
Hyundai has yet to reveal too much in the way of specs, and what markets it intends to sell it to. Korea and India are the only two countries mentioned thus far. While the US is doubtful, there appears to be more interest in these tiny SUVs.
Vehicles like the Hyundai Kona, Chevy Spark, and Nissan Versa are the closest in size to Hyunda’s little SUV. Honda’s Fit also approaches it but was dropped this year due to low sales. But all of these miss the SUV-like looks of the Casper.
So that is why we think that something that looks like a small SUV rather than a small and cheap-looking sedan might sell here. The Honda Element and Nissan Cube gave it a shot, but are no longer available. The Kia Soul also comes close, but it has grown in size over the years.
But those product calls are not ours to make. We’ll have to see if the demand for the Casper is big enough for Hyundai to consider other, larger markets like the US.