Hyundai Motor is gearing up to introduce the new AX1 micro-SUV later this year. As per various media reports, the South Korean automaker has now trademarked the name ‘Casper’ for its upcoming mini-car, which will go on sale in South Korea first, followed by other markets, including India. And as we know, the name most likely won’t be the same in India because Hyundai is known for naming models differently in other markets.
There are also speculations that the car might be launched with a totally different nameplate in India. However, there are not many details about it right now and we will have to wait for them to be revealed at a later stage. The AX1 (Casper) will be the smallest SUV offering from the South Korean automaker in the Indian market and will sit below the existing Venue subcompact SUV. It will be underpinned by Hyundai’s K1 compact car platform that is also found in the brand’s Grand i10Nios and Santro.
The car is claimed to span 3,595mm in length, 1,595mm in width and 1,575mm in height. If these numbers are true, the Hyundai Casper will sit slightly shorter and narrower than the existing Santro hatchback that spans 3,610mm in length, 1,645mm in width and 1,560mm in height.
The micro SUV from Hyundai will feature the same 1.2-litre, four-cylinder naturally aspirated engine found on the Grand i10 Nios which is capable of producing 83hp and 114Nm. Other trims could also feature the Santro’s 1.1-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine as a more budget-friendly offering, or even the Venue’s 1.0-litre turbo-petrol unit in some trims based on feature and pricing.
In terms of design, the Casper looks boxy yet vibrant in the spy shots and will be targeting the youth like the similar offerings from rival brands (And could we stop calling these hatchbacks on steroids, SUVs? PLEASE!).The upright stance has multiple quirky bits on the exterior like rounded off edges, a flat bonnet, and a split setup for the circular headlamps. The head units are also flaunting daytime running lamps that are positioned on the bumper.
At the rear, the tail-lamp will continue the model’s quirky design theme, with a triangular pattern and LED bits that are similar to newer Hyundai models like the Alcazar and also the Staria MPV sold overseas. The tail lamps may also mimic the front looks of the AX1 and come with a similar unique circular design positioned on the rear bumpers.
Reports suggest that the trial production of the new Casper have already commenced, while the full production is slated to begin in September 2021. There is also an electrified version of the car in the lineup that is scheduled for a debut somewhere in 2023-24. It is likely to feature BorgWarner integrated drive module (iDM) with an electric motor, a gearbox and power electronic in a modular unit.
The Hyundai Casper once landing on Indian shores, will go against Tata’s upcoming HBX, Mahindra KUV100 and Suzuki S-presso. Additionally, the micro SUV segment also faces competition from the hatchbacks in India in terms of price point, like the Maruti Suzuki Ignis, Swift, WagonR, Hyundai’s own Santro and others. It will be interesting to see how the new Hyundai offering will fare against the competition both inside and outside the segment.