Cupra Born review
Cupra Born review
The Cupra Born is a spacious electric hatchback with a practical interior and strong electric performance. For a supposedly sporty car it isn’t a huge amount of fun to drive, though
What's not so good
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The Cupra Born is an electric family hatchback that promises a bit of a sporting edge. With a maximum range of up to 335 miles it’ll give the likes of the Tesla Model 3 something to worry about, but in reality it sets out to take on alternatives such as the Hyundai Ioniq 5, the Kia e-Niro and the Volkswagen ID.3.
In fact, this Spanish EV is closely related to the Volkswagen. Not only are they all but identical under the skin, they look remarkably similar too.
In a way, you could think of the two cars as being siblings. The Volkswagen is the sensible, mature older brother, while the Cupra is the young upstart that’s a bit edgy and has a tendency to get up to a bit of good-natured mischief.
Up front it has a much sharper face than the ID.3, and there are some striking copper coloured badges and trim inserts for a bit of extra visual wow factor too. Wheel sizes range from 18- to 20-inches, and round the back there’s a sharp-looking LED light bar that stretches across its tailgate.
The cabin is pretty athletic looking, too. In the place of leather you can get sporty synthetic suede upholstery that’s made from recycled ocean plastic; and the sports seats are comfy and hold you snugly in place (although it’d be nice if you could bring the steering wheel in a bit closer to your chest). You won’t have any trouble seeing out the front, but the rear window is a bit on the small side.
You get a 12-inch touchscreen on the dash, which packs sharp looking graphics and plenty of tech including satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It’s a pity it has a tendency to lag and crash, though; and the lack of proper physical controls for the air conditioning is also a pain.
The Cupra Born is the sportier looking sibling of the practical Volkswagen ID.3. The 58kWh battery with the 204hp motor offers the best blend of range and performance.
Still, there’s a tonne of space in the rear for back seat passengers, and the spacious 385-litre boot is identical to that of its Volkswagen relation.
There will eventually be three different battery sizes to choose from, lending the Born an electric range of as little as 211 miles and as high as 335 miles. Our test car had the mid-level battery with a range of 263 miles, and a 204hp electric motor.
Plugged in to a 7kW home wallbox charger, you’d be able to top this car’s battery up overnight easily enough – and it’d cost you about £10 to do so. The Born can charge at up to 170kW, so if you find a fast enough publicly-accessible DC rapid charger you’ll go from 10% to 80% capacity in around 30 minutes.
Set up as such it’s easily quick enough for ducking and darting in and out of slow moving traffic, and for swift overtaking on faster roads. On its lowered sports suspension it handles pretty tidily too, with accurate steering and decent grip. The brakes are lifeless though, and despite its athletic looks it certainly doesn’t feel like a fun-loving electric hot hatchback. It’s a bit too sensible for that.
That said, despite a bit of tetchiness over the odd lump or bump, it’s comfy enough, and on the motorway it settles down nicely. There’s a bit of road and wind noise, but this is no dealbreaker.
So there’s plenty to like here. The Born is practical, spacious, easy to drive and has more than enough electric range. But given the fact it wears the Cupra badge (Cupra is the performance offshoot of Seat) it’s just a pity it isn’t a bit more fun and engaging to drive.
Prices haven’t been announced just yet, and the Born isn’t expected to arrive in the UK until 2022. We’ll let you know what they are as soon as we can. In the meantime, head on over to our Cupra deals page to see how much you can save on a new car through carwow.
The Cupra Born has plenty of space on board and a good-sized boot, but three adults will find the back seats a bit of a squeeze
We’ve got no real complaints so far as the Cupra Born’s passenger space is concerned.
Up front you’ll find seats that are comfortable and supportive, and a level of adjustability that’s good if not outstanding (we’d have liked to have been able to bring the steering wheel a bit closer into our chest). As standard the front chairs are manually adjustable, but an electrically-controlled driver’s seat with massage function is available as an option.
In the back, that sense of spaciousness continues. Two taller passengers will find they have plenty of legroom at their disposal, and headroom isn’t too bad either. That said, while there’s enough room for two, the Born’s back seat might be a bit of a squeeze for three adults to sit comfortably over longer journeys.
The Cupra Born is very good on this front, too. There are a couple of large door bins up front that can easily hold bigger bottles of water; while the centre console is effectively one large cubby hole. The glove box is a bit on the small side, though.
In the back you’ll find two more door bins that’ll hold a good-sized bottle of water, and there are pouches on the front seat backs where you can store maps or – more likely – an iPad or other tablet device.
With the back seats in place, the Cupra Born has the same 385-litre boot as the mechanically identical Volkswagen ID.3.
There’s a bit of a load lip to contend with, but otherwise the opening itself is usefully wide, and it should be able to swallow a couple of hard-shell travel suitcases without much bother.
The Cupra Born offers good electric range and is reasonably quick in a straight line, but is not all that fun to drive
There are a number of different battery and electric motor combinations available on the Cupra Born – all with varying amounts of power and outright range.
The entry-level, 45kWh model comes with a 150hp electric motor that drives its rear wheels, and promises a maximum range of up to 210 miles. It’ll complete the sprint from 0-60mph in 8.9 seconds, which is more than swift enough for city driving.
Next up you’ve got the 58kWh model. This version has a more powerful 204hp electric motor, and that larger battery means its claimed range jumps to 260 miles.
This is the one we drove on the launch, and in our opinion it’s the version of the Cupra Born that you should go for. With a 0-60mph time of 7.3 seconds it’s quick enough to handle the cut and thrust of inner city driving, as well as faster overtakes on the open road.
Its larger battery will make the idea of long-distance driving that much more palatable, too. The Volkswagen ID.3 comes with an identical set-up, and in that car we were able to cover 220 miles before the car ran flat. You should expect to see a similar real-world range figure from this version of the Cupra Born.
In 2022, Cupra will introduce its ‘e-Boost’ version of the Born. This high performance model turns the power up to 231hp, and will be available either with the same 58kWh battery for a range of just under 260 miles, or a larger 77kWh battery for a claimed range as high as 335 miles.
In addition to the gruntier electric motor, e-Boost versions will also get larger brakes and bigger 19-inch wheels as standard.
And as for charge times? Well, if you plug the Born in to a 7kW home wallbox you’ll be able to top its batteries up overnight, while a maximum charge rate of up to 170kW means you’ll be able to go from 10% to 80% capacity in just over 30 minutes on a suitable rapid charger.
Despite the fact that the Cupra Born is supposed to be a sporty and fun-to-drive electric hatchback, it’s still at its best when you’re simply trundling around the city. With lowered suspension its ride can be on the firm side at times, but it generally soaks up bumps with little bother.
It changes direction with plenty of accuracy, and a big, expansive front windscreen with some clever little portholes in the front pillars allow for good forward visibility. The view out the back isn’t so sharp thanks to a fairly dinky rear window, but parking sensors and cameras are on hand to help out here.
Out on the motorway it settles down to become a comfortable cruiser, and if you tick the box for the optional adaptive dampers its ride becomes noticeably cushioned and sponge-like through bigger dips. The cabin is mostly pretty quiet at high speed, but you will notice some tyre roar and wind noise as the air outside flutters over the Born’s wing mirrors.
Unfortunately, on a twisty road the Born doesn’t quite deliver the sporty, engaging sense of driving fun that its racy exterior promises. Sure, it changes direction sweetly enough and it develops good amounts of grip – but it feels like a heavy car too. You can sense it rolling about from side-to-side through fast corners; while the brakes feel disappointingly wooden and lifeless when you need to slow down quickly.
It perhaps feels a touch more agile than its Volkswagen ID.3 counterpart, but no more than that. And that’s a bit of a shame.
The Cupra Born has a sporty-feeling interior, but some of the controls are a little frustrating to use