Hyundai Casper became trending in the Korean automobile market at the same time as the launch last year. As the automaker pioneered a new genre of ‘entry SUV’ that had never existed in South Korea, the image of a compact car changed a lot, and Casper’s sales method - only sold online for the first time in Korea - became a hot potato. For this reason, Casper has enjoyed steady popularity since the pre-order.
That’s not all; Another charm of Casper is the utilization of cabin space. You can sleep in your car while traveling, or work in your car away from the office; As such, the ways of using a car are changing in various ways, and being able to fold all the seats in the car is a huge advantage.
What’s more, the Casper has a higher seating position than other compact cars, and it has a 2WD rough road driving mode that controls traction to make it easier to get out of snow, sand, mud, and more; This means you can get closer to nature with Casper. And that’s why Casper’s owners post a lot of travel posts on social media.
So, how far can you go with Casper? Let’s climb the snowy mountain, cross the frozen river, and head deep into Gangwon-do. In my heart, I wanted to enjoy the beautiful winter scenery of Korea before this winter was over. To see the performance of the turbocharged Casper, I drove on highways, national roads, and hill slopes.
Casper is the only compact car sold in South Korea with a turbo engine. With a small engine of about 1 liter, it provides excellent performance of up to 100 horsepower and maximum torque of 17.5 kgf·m; In fact, it seems like overkill for the cute little Casper. But thanks to this, I was able to drive effortlessly on highways and on steep hills.
Casper’s ability, superior to other compact cars, was highlighted on the off-road. Snow on high elevations - over 1,000 m above sea level - is mostly well compacted, providing sufficient friction for the wheels. However, in icy and slippery places, even a slight push on the accelerator pedal can often cause the wheels to spin - that’s when you need 2WD rough road mode.
Casper’s 2WD rough road driving mode can be controlled with the driving mode dial to the right of the gear lever. Each time you press the dial once, you can select between a driving mode (normal, sport) and a rough road driving mode (snow, mud, sand). Controls are large and centered on the dashboard screen, making it easy for anyone to handle.
After setting the 2WD rough road driving mode to Snow Mode, I pushed the accelerator slowly; It’s better to start slowly on slippery roads because the tires lose grip easily. Snow mode controls the driving force and engine torque to help you get off to a stable start on snowy roads. Occasionally, in a place that is very slippery enough for the wheels to idle, it may be effective to temporarily turn off the ESC (Electronic Stability Control Unit) because the engine output is limited even if you floor the accelerator.
It was quite an exhilarating experience to drive freely on the snow-white fields in Casper; While most SUVs cannot do it, I never imagined that a compact Casper could show such a powerful performance. Thanks to this, at first I thought the Casper was only cute, but gradually I realized that this model is a confident and powerful SUV.
Even so, be careful when driving in snow; It is difficult to tell exactly how much snow has accumulated on snowy roads, so your vehicle may not be able to get out of it. And when going up the slope, it is important not to stop in the middle, but to speed up and go up at once. If you stop on a slippery road, it will be difficult to start again. In that case, it is better to go back down slowly and then go up again where the tires have sufficient grip.
And be especially careful when going down a road covered with snow or thin ice. If the speed is too fast, the tire can easily lose grip, which can lead to a serious accident. In this case, change to a lower gear and increase the rpm to use the engine brake, which creates a load on the engine. It is also important to operate the steering wheel and pedals gently to avoid sudden load transfers in the car. In fact, the most important thing when driving on snow is to prepare winter equipment such as snow tires and chains.
The trip with Casper made me think differently about compact cars. I thought compact cars would shine the most in a busy city, but Casper showed more than that in brutal nature. Casper has the ability to get through most of the roads easily and I could change the cabin space freely, making it easier for me to spend this winter. I am already looking forward to the thought that there will be more places to go with Casper when the warm spring comes. I am already looking forward to spring, when I can drive my Casper anywhere I want.
Photography by Jin-Ho Choi
HMG Journal Operation Teamgroup@hyundai.com
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