Hyundai Casper Laughably Stretches the Definition of “SUV”

Remember in the late 2000s when gas prices soared to historic heights and automakers turned to “crossovers” to stay as far away as possible from the term “SUV?” Oh, how the times have changed.

Now, utility vehicles are all the rage and anything that is even remotely similar gets advertised as an SUV, sometimes to ridiculous extents.

The latest example comes from Hyundai. The company that decided to replace the Accent subcompact hatchback with a FWD-only SUV called Venue has unveiled an even smaller model aimed at Asian markets from South Korea to India. And what do you know? They call it a “micro-SUV.”

Photo: Hyundai

Named Casper not after the cartoon character but rather skateboarder Bobby Boyden’s “Casper flip,” it’s supposedly designed to flip expectations of what can be done with such a tiny package. The Casper is about 45 centimetres shorter than the Venue, or roughly the same length as a Fiat 500.

The platform is shared with Hyundai’s i10 microcar, while the available 1.0- and 1.2-litre engines range from 76-99 horsepower. A fully electric variant is rumoured to be coming within two years.

Photo: Hyundai

As for styling, some will find it cute with that unique front grille and wheel treatment, while others will tell you it looks even less attractive than the Venue. The chrome-finished roof rails are about the only utility feature on the Casper.

If a vehicle like that can be labeled as an SUV, then we probably should re-write the history books to adjust the definition of the Toyota Matrix, Suzuki SX4 and other compact hatchbacks we’ve lost.

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