That adorable bundle of form and function you see above is the Hyundai Casper, a tiny SUV the South Korean automaker quietly unveiled this morning. Details are sparse at the moment, but it seems as though the Casper is destined at least for South Korea and India. Certainly not the U.S., which is a shame for yours truly. Having now seen it, I want one in every color.
The Casper is small. How small? It’s 141.5 inches long and 62.7 inches wide, according to India’s Firstpost. For reference, the Suzuki Jimny measures 143.5 inches long and 64.7 inches wide. The Casper is about 8 inches too long and 5 inches too wide to qualify as a kei car, but in still images it may as well be one.
The Venue is the smallest crossover Hyundai’s willing to sell over here, and that car’s 20 inches longer than this one. But the faceless Venue doesn’t share the Casper’s cute-but-unamused-about-it exterior, or eye-catching grille and lighting design. The Casper is sort of like a less ugly Citroen Cactus that’s also been hit by a shrink ray, or a cross between a Fiat Panda Wild 4x4 and a Kia Soul.
There’s so much to like! In what few pictures Hyundai’s released, the grille can be seen in silver or black, which is a cool touch; that burnt orange-and-aluminum combo is perfect. I love how the side windows don’t quite match or meet in a predictable way, and the decision to paint the B-pillar body color makes the Casper much more interesting in profile. The curvy glass of the hatch fits so perfectly. How about those taillights, echoing the triangular grille pattern?
The Casper is built on Hyundai’s K1 platform, which is also used for the i10 supermini. Like the i10, it’ll be offered with a choice of 1-liter three-cylinders; a base engine producing about 76 horsepower, and an optional turbo-equipped one making 99 HP. Apparently an all-electric version is in the pipeline, too.
And before you make assumptions about the origin of this little guy’s name, apparently it’s not a reference to the friendly ghost, but rather a skateboard trick — something Hyundai explained in a video also released today. Reservations are opening for customers in South Korea this month, and the automaker plans to release more information on the vehicle in the coming weeks.
I don’t know how Hyundai does it. These days, if there’s a car to build or a category it hasn’t served yet, it finds a way to fill that gap. Soon you’ll be able to get a Veloster, an Elantra or even a Kona with the same high-output turbo-four; this is also the same company that will sell you a three-row SUV. At this rate, I expect Hyundai to keep introducing progressively smaller and larger vehicles at opposite ends of the spectrum until it has both the Cozy Coupe and Chevy Suburban buyers covered.