Pros: superb handling, high-quality interior
Cons: no all-wheel-drive version, potentially pricey
The Cupra Born is the Spanish brand's first fully electric car, and even though it shares its DNA with the Volkswagen ID.3, it looks and drives with greater distinction. A choice of three battery sizes and a powerful e-Boost Performance Pack makes this more of a driver’s EV.
Cupra Born Design
Under the skin of the Cupra Born is the same MEB platform that underpins other Volkswagen Group electric cars such as the Skoda Enyaq iV and Volkswagen ID.3. The latter is what the Born is most closely related to, both technically and in terms of looks, but it measures 60mm longer due to its different bumper designs. At 4,322mm, it's slightly shorter than a Cupra Leon, yet it has a longer wheelbase than the Cupra Formentor crossover.
An expressive front design includes a slender grille element that carries the Cupra name, while its logo sits on the nose of the bonnet. LED headlights add to the car's focused look, and copper elements run throughout as it is a signature colour for the brand. Wheel sizes start at 19 inches, and there is a small aerodynamic flick on the lower rocker panel just ahead of the rear wheel. At the same time, the C-pillar features a three-dimensional triangular dimpling panel.
A bespoke suspension arrangement brings the ride height of the Born down by 15mm at the front and 10mm at the rear compared to the Volkswagen ID.3. Further visual differentiation continues at the rear, where there is a light element that spans the full width of the car.
Cupra Born Interior
There's a mix of textures inside the Cupra Born, many of which are made from sustainable and recycled materials. Sports seats are standard and include material made of plastic collected from the ocean. They look great but are on the firm side. The use of a suede-like Dinamica material on the doors and centre console adds to the cabin's premium feel. Ahead of the multifunction steering wheel is a digital instrument display that is also home to the drive shifter and parking brake.
A floating 12-inch touchscreen display mounted in the middle of the dashboard is slightly angled towards the driver and includes a touch bar along its base for adjusting volume and temperature controls. Cupra also offers an augmented reality head-up display projecting information onto the windscreen that moves in a way that appears layered over the real-world view outside, such as highlighting the shape of the curve ahead.
Rear passengers get fairly good levels of space thanks to a lengthy wheelbase. Even the middle seat isn't as compromised as in most combustion-engined cars as the floor across the rear is completely flat. At 385 litres, the boot is slightly larger than a Cupra Leon’s.
Cupra Born Performance & Drive
Three battery sizes are available for the Cupra Born, starting with a 45kWh unit, paired with a 150hp motor, resulting in a range of around 340 kilometres. In the middle of the line-up is a 58kWh battery, matched to an electric motor with a power output of 204hp; this can cover up to 424 kilometres on a charge. Cupra also offers an e-Boost Performance Pack for this version that increases power output to 231hp for short bursts. The e-Boost is also available for a 77kWh battery for a driving range of up to 540 kilometres.
Cupra uses a rear-wheel-drive setup for the Born and our drive in the 58kWh e-Boost Performance Pack car demonstrated how engaging it is. Taking only 6.6 seconds to reach 100km/h from rest, it is the fastest accelerating Born. More experienced drivers will appreciate the bespoke traction control as it rarely intervenes, while the Dynamic Chassis Control allows for individual tuning in more detail for a precise setup.
Although the Cupra has a lower ride height, the damping is excellent, and it rides over harsher elements like speed humps quite sweetly. But it's when you begin driving the Born with greater enthusiasm that the suspension's setup comes into play. There are remarkably high levels of lateral grip — partly due to our test car's wide 235/40 R20 tyres and its centre of gravity being so low.
A variable ratio steering setup provides a positively weighted feel during quicker driving with a decent amount of communication back to the driver. Having the wheels pushed so far out to the car's extremities improves how the car turns and the punchy electric power delivery makes it feel faster than the figures suggest.
Cupra Born Pricing
When the Cupra Born arrives in early 2022 it is expected to have a starting price that is just under €39,000 before applicable grants.
Carzone Verdict: 4/5
The Cupra Born is an EV that drives exceptionally well and is clearly geared toward keener drivers. A striking design ensures it will stand out and the interior has an elevated level of quality to it. All that, combined with a trio of battery options, bodes well for Cupra.