After spending the weekend atfor my birthday, I finally started watching this week — yes, I know I’m super late. (And it’s damn good too, did y’all know how good this show is???) Obviously the star of the show is , who I love and would protect with my life just like . So it seemed like divine intervention of the Force when Hyundai unveiled the diminutive Casper SUV last night, as it’s basically the Baby Yoda of SUVs. I mean, just look at it. This thing is freakin’ cute.
The front-wheel-drive Casper was mainly designed for India and South Korea, though it will potentially be sold in other markets including Europe. It rides on the same platform as the i10 hatchback, and at just 141.5 inches long the Casper is nearly 18 inches shorter than theand just 2 inches longer than a Fiat 500. Engine options are two 1.0-liter three-cylinders, a naturally aspirated unit with 73 horsepower and a turbo version with 97 hp; both engines are paired with a four-speed automatic transmission.
None of that really matters though. What matters is how adorable the Casper’s teeny little face is. Like other Hyundai crossovers it has slim LED lights up top for the turn signals, here connected by a gloss-black panel that also features the company logo, while the headlights are the large round units lower down in the front end. These headlights feature a running light ring with a main light unit sunken in the circle. The lights are surrounded by a silver panel that has triangular perforations to form the grille, and the lower part of the bumper has a silver faux skid plate element with small intakes. There’s also the Active model, the green one pictured here, which comes standard with the turbo engine. It gets a gloss-black panel with a more traditional mesh grille that contains a pair of circular intakes for the intercooler, and the “skid plate” is blockier with bigger intakes.
I love how boxy the Casper’s fender flares are, with the rear fender having a cool forward-leaning kick to it. The blocky hood flows into a chamfered edge running along the base of the windows, and the upright B-pillar is a nice contrast to the blacked-out A-pillar and kinked C-pillar, which also contains a hidden door handle. While there’s only one view of the rear end, we can see a set of round lights in the rear bumper echoing the front end and a light bar at the base of the rear window that also has a triangular pattern. Hyundai also hasn’t released any interior photos, but an infotainment screen is visible atop the dash.
The Casper will go on sale in South Korea later this year, and Hyundai is taking reservations in an interesting way. Starting on Sept. 1 and running until Sept. 12, prospective customers can sign up to make an “early bird reservation” for the Casper using a QR code on Hyundai’s website, after which they’ll fill out a survey and start receiving notifications and info about the car. After that period ends and actual sales contracts open up, people who signed up for the early bird program get priority over regular customers. The early birds also get bonuses for joining the program through a special lottery, with 5,000 people getting a Starbucks gift card, 5,000 people getting an 8-hour pass for a ride-hailing test ride using the Casper and 100 people getting priority delivery of their car.
Hyundai hasn’t yet said how much the Casper will cost, but it’s sure to be extremely cheap. More details about the car will be released closer to the launch in the next few months. And while there’s pretty much no chance of the Casper making its way to the US, a fully electric version is likely to debut in a year or so, which should further expand its appeal in Europe and Asia. I guess you’ll just have to catch 53-year-old me driving one of these around LA with my Baby Yoda plushie in the passenger seat once it’s importable under the US’ 25-year law.
Oh, and the name? Yeah, it has nothing to do with the friendly ghost. Hyundai says the Casper is named after the kickflip-style skateboarding trick in which you flip the board upside down and then quickly flip it back around using your foot as a fulcrum. I bet Baby Yoda could do one. According to my Google translation of Hyundai’s Korean website, the name “contains the development direction to change the game and stereotypes of the existing automobile market through a new car class and commercialization of an entry SUV.” More importantly, the name just adds to the Casper’s cuteness factor.