First Drive: Is the Cupra Born a sporty EV worth considering?

·6-min read

What is it?

The Born sits on the Volkswagen Group’s MEB electric car platform. (Cupra)
The Born sits on the Volkswagen Group’s MEB electric car platform. (Cupra)

Cupra is a company really finding its feet in the UK market. It may have only established itself as a separate entity from parent company Seat a few years ago, but it has already expanded its range to become a real presence here. Now, it is turning its attention to the flourishing EV segment with its first electric car – the Born.

Sitting atop the same platform as cars like the Volkswagen ID.3 and Audi Q4 e-tron, the Born aims to bring a slightly sportier character compared with its Volkswagen Group stablemates, as well as the more distinctive design that Cupra has become known for. We’ve been testing it out on UK roads.

What’s new?

Bold styling is offered with the Cupra Born. (Cupra)
Bold styling is offered with the Cupra Born. (Cupra)

As we mentioned, the Born uses the Volkswagen Group MEB platform which has been designed specifically for electric vehicles, rather than adapted from an existing petrol or diesel setup. That means it goes hard on making the most of the space it has to offer, while the battery is placed low to improve weight distribution and ensure that roominess isn’t impacted.

The Born is also offered with a series of battery and power options, giving buyers a variety of entry points into the line-up.

What’s under the bonnet?

A range of powertrains are offered with the Born (Cupra).
A range of powertrains are offered with the Born (Cupra).

Though there are a few powertrain setups available for the Born, we’re testing out the anticipated best-seller, which combines a 201bhp electric motor with a 58kWh battery. It’s pretty punchy, too, bringing a 0-60mph of just 7.1 seconds and a top speed of 99mph. There’s a good deal of torque, too, at 310Nm.

With that 58kWh battery, Cupra claims a range of up to 261 miles. The Born can also charge at speeds of up to 125kW, meaning a five to 80 per cent charge could be completed in as little as 35 minutes. If you’ve got a three-phase 11kW home charger then a full top up could take six hours, or around eight with a conventional 7kW unit.

What’s it like to drive?

The Cupra Born uses a sportier suspension setup than the Volkswagen ID.3. (Cupra)
The Cupra Born uses a sportier suspension setup than the Volkswagen ID.3. (Cupra)

Cupra really has pushed to make the Born feel sportier than other cars on the same platform, which is why it sits on a lower suspension setup and can even be fitted with wider tyres for improved grip and higher cornering speeds. These changes are really noticeable too, as the Born corners keenly and remains well planted through the bends. The only negative by-product of this is a really firm ride, which does tend to get pretty unsettled over poor surfaces – something exasperated when travelling at slow speeds.

That said, it is easy to pilot with relatively light controls. The instant availability of the torque also means that the Born feels quite quick and far speedier than its on-paper figures would suggest. Visibility wise it’s largely acceptable, though the chunky A-pillars do mean you have to take a little more care when entering a roundabout or exiting a junction.

How does it look?

We think Cupra has done really well when it comes to the Born’s styling. It’s definitely the most eye-catching out of the Volkswagen Group’s range of EVs, with its slim headlights, full-width rear light bar and range of copper accents really ensuring that it stands out from the crowd. We particularly liked the contrast diffuser fitted at the rear of the car, which helps to give it even more stance on the road.

There is a good variety of exterior colours too choose from as well, though to our eyes at least it’s the darker shades that suit it the best.

What’s it like inside?

The Born has a very minimalist interior. (Cupra)
The Born has a very minimalist interior. (Cupra)

With the majority of controls centred in the Born’s infotainment, there aren’t too many buttons left to clutter up the car’s cabin. It does mean it all feels quite stripped back, though a good level of fit and finish means that this doesn’t come at the detriment of quality. The front seats are comfortable and easy to adjust, too.

But it’s in the back where things are really impressive. There’s loads of legroom for those sitting in the rear, while headroom is also very good. In terms of boot space there are 385 litres on offer and you can extend this by lowering the rear seats. Our only issue is with the charging cable storage; it’s underneath the boot floor which means that if you’re out and about and need to top-up, you’ll need to take everything out of the load area in order to access the cables.

What’s the spec like?

The Born’s touchscreen is jam-packed with features. (Cupra)
The Born’s touchscreen is jam-packed with features. (Cupra)

Our car came in V3 specification and, for its £38,390 price tag brought a good deal of standard equipment such as as 12-inch infotainment system and 5.3 digital cockpit, as well as wireless smartphone integration and adaptive cruise control. You also get 12-way electrically adjustable front seats with pneumatic lumbar support and a massage function. The infotainment system is jam-packed with features, but because it holds access to all major functions it feels a little cluttered and makes a process as simple as increasing the cabin temperature more tricky than it should be. There are slim shortcut buttons for this below the screen, but they’re very compact and aren’t lit up either.

Our test car did come with a single optional extra – silver paint for £565 – but, in truth, there’s very little need to go troubling the options list with the Born.

Verdict

The Born is an excellent EV, aside from its overly firm ride. (Cupra)
The Born is an excellent EV, aside from its overly firm ride. (Cupra)

Cupra has done well to bring some real attitude to the EV segment with the Born. It’s definitely got that dynamic flavour, with the kind of body control and eagerness for corners that we’d be expecting more from a hot hatch than a battery-powered model.

That low-speed ride sure is firm, mind you, which might put off some people who are looking for comfort from their EV. That said, with its good value for money and high levels of standard equipment, this could be something people are happy to contend with.

  • Model: Cupra Born

  • Starting price: £34,715

  • Model as tested: Cupra Born V3

  • Price as tested: £38,955

  • Powertrain: Electric motor with 58kWh battery

  • Power: 201bhp

  • Torque: 310Nm

  • 0-60mph: 7.1 seconds

  • Top speed: 99mph

  • Emissions: 0g/km

  • Range: 261 miles

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