It’s been about two weeks since the Hyundai Casper entered the public eye and simultaneously became the only car that mattered. Sitting at the bottom of the South Korean automaker’s range, the teeny Casper will be sold in the brand’s home market, and maybe India too. It’ll also be absurdly cheap.
How cheap? Well, when Hyundai initially revealed the Casper, we didn’t have much of an idea. But pricing has emerged since, and this little guy figures to start at 13,850,000 won, according to Carscoops. That translates to all of $US11,864 ($16,200). Quite honestly, I did not know cars could still be that inexpensive.
“Sure,” you’re probably thinking. “But what about a nice one? That’s how they get you!” It turns out, no it isn’t. At roughly $US16,020 ($21,875) for the top-line Inspiration trim, a well-equipped Casper is still barely more expensive when converted to dollars than a Chevy Spark or Mitsubishi Mirage. The thing is, when I look at those cars, I feel acute apathy for everything in this world. When I look at the Casper, I feel joy.
I feel even more joy when I peek around the Casper’s interior. I struggled to understand why I dug the cabin so much, until my colleague Lawrence compared it to that of a ’90s concept car. At once, everything made sense. Thank you, Lawrence.
The Casper’s dashboard is defined by curved surfaces. The convex climate vents don’t look all too different in shape from those found in an E30 3 Series. The rounded rectangle motif appears everywhere: in the door handles, the centre of the steering wheel and even as little strips embossed into the door cards. The steering wheel, by the way, has no logo — just like that of the Ioniq 5. The centre stack doesn’t blend into a centre console, it just sorta falls to the ground, like the Fiat Multipla’s centre stack. There’s just an arm rest above cupholders encircled by the same fabric as the cushions; a little pop of colour around the shift lever brightens things up and distracts from the various tones of grey.
Speaking of colour, just wait until you get a load of this scheme for the front seats:
The Casper seen in the image above is surely one of the nicer ones; you ain’t getting an infotainment screen like that in the base model. Images of a less desirable trim are difficult to come by. In fact, any information on the Casper is slim, due to the car’s regional exclusivity. You get what you pay for, but in this case I can’t help but think you’re getting more, actually. Have you seen a comparably-priced Mitsubishi Mirage lately?
There are many reasons why cars as cheap and interesting as the Casper don’t exist here. Phenomenally cheap labour, for one. Americans don’t like normal small cars, let alone small small cars. We have our own crash testing regulations, and safety requirements like rearview cameras that are mandatory on all vehicles. Still, it kind of stings when our flavour of inexpensive, accessible transportation looks a decade old while this one looks like it’s from the future.