The compelling case of the Hyundai Casper

When the images of the Hyundai Casper first came out in 2021, Filipino internet users fawned over the charming appeal of the small crossover.  Fortunately, we discovered that there’s a chance for it to be sold locally – but let’s talk about what the Casper is and why it’s a compelling model for the Filipino taste.

The Casper is a subcompact crossover offered by Hyundai in its home market in Korea. Introduced two years ago, it’s designed to cater to the needs of urban consumers who are looking for a vehicle that is both stylish and practical. Think of the Toyota Raize – only smaller and instead of acting sporty and SUV-like, it capitalizes on its minute dimensions for that adorable look. If there’s one word that would best describe the Casper, it’s cute.

As we’ve seen the Casper in the metal, I couldn’t help but see it as a middle ground between the Suzuki S-Presso and the Toyota Raize. The Raize, being the bigger model, will definitely be pricier if the Casper were to be sold here. The S-Presso, on the other hand, has almost decent in-cabin materials and build quality to match its outrageously low price tag.

With the Casper, I’d say it should be within the 700k to 900k price range, which will make it attractive for newbie drivers and younger car buyers. Despite that price, the Casper is 10 notches better than the S-Presso in terms of quality. It didn’t feel cheap when I sat inside, and while the materials used in the cabin are far from posh and luxurious, they are even better than what the Toyota Raize currently offers at a higher price.

Sure, the Casper is smaller than the Raize in terms of overall size, but compared to the space inside the cabin, the differences are marginal. And don’t get me started with the four-seater S-Presso.

I will not talk about features and equipment here, as well as engine options, as those will depend on a variety of factors, primarily, price. But taking the recipe of the Raize, which is currently among the ten best-selling vehicles in the Philippines (called it!), Hyundai might already have a hot seller in its stables. All the company needs to do is start importing the car.

Now, on to the more pressing issue: is there a chance for Hyundai Motor Philippines to bring over the Casper locally? After talking to Hyundai executives during our Seoul Mobility Show trip, there is, apparently, but with careful consideration.

If Hyundai will import the Casper from South Korea where it is currently being built, it will be priced higher than the figures I stated earlier, which will invalidate a very important selling factor for this type of vehicle.

That said, the only way Hyundai could sell the Casper in the Philippines is if it starts building the model in Indonesia where the company can take advantage of tax levies between ASEAN countries. But will Hyundai ever take this route? We tried our best to convince the executives to do so during the informal dinner conversations but to no avail.

What we got, however, was the assurance that Hyundai is studying the market. And if Hyundai deemed the Casper as a compelling offering in other ASEAN countries apart from the Philippines, there’s a chance that the company would invest in building the model outside Korea.

This isn’t a guarantee, though. But if Hyundai eventually does so, you can definitely see me lining up for a unit.

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