Formerly the sporting division of Spanish car maker SEAT, and now its own standalone performance brand, Cupra has high ambitions in the world of electric cars. And this, the new Born, is the car it hopes will put it on the battery-powered map. With up to 231hp from a single-motor, rear-wheel drive setup, it looks like a proper EV hot hatch. But is this £34,715 (priced from) newcomer fun enough for the class?
If the Cupra Born looks familiar to you from some angles, it’s because it’s based off the hot-selling Volkswagen ID.3 electric hatchback. Cupra, like SEAT, is part of the Volkswagen Group, so its cars share parts with the parent company, but the Born does wear plenty of individual design features that differentiate it from its battery-powered cousin.
Firstly, there are flashes of Cupra bronze on the body, and the more angular face illustrates the added aggression this Spanish-take on a German model has. It looks great in the metal, and it has no trouble in turning heads, despite making no engine noises because, ahem, it has no engine…
There are flashes of Cupra bronze on the body,
What's it like to drive?
With a single electric motor located at the Cupra Born’s back end, this is a rear-wheel drive hot hatch. That’s a rare trait these days (most hot hatches are either front- or all-wheel drive), so it makes the Cupra exciting. Although thanks to the linear delivery of the car’s power (the model we drive is the entry-level 204hp model, rather than the 231hp range-topper), you’re not given a tail-wagging, oversteering maniac.
Instead, the Born feels planted and composed, with the low-placed weight of its 58kWh battery (which is located in the car’s floor, under the passengers) ensuring stable handling. It rides really nicely, absorbing bumps and potholes confidently, yet it corners flat, with minimal body roll. That’s a good thing, because it means the car feels comfy yet sporting – a trait that’s much harder to achieve with a petrol engine.
That said, while the car responds to your steering inputs eagerly enough, and the supply of electric power is elastic, this isn’t an EV hot hatch to blow your socks off. It does things in a slightly calmer manner, achieving its 7.3-second 0-62mph time (the 231hp car cracks 62 in 6.6 secs) without much fuss. Instead, this feels like a heated-up take on a sensible car, and in many ways that’s exactly what it is.
It rides really nicely, absorbing bumps and potholes confidently
Like the exterior, the interior of the Cupra Born bears some resemblance with the Volkswagen model it’s related to. But again, the Spanish brand has injected some sportiness, with higher-grade materials, bronze trim and, most significantly, a pair of hip-hugging front seats. Comfy, supportive and appropriately racy, they add to the driving experience as much as they do the cabin aesthetics.
The five-door, five-seat Born feels high-grade and premium inside, and the digital screens – an infotainment display and instrument cluster behind the steering wheel – look great. The same slightly annoying features that we found in the ID.3 remain here though, including touch-sensitive heater controls that are fiddly and infotainment software that’s not as reactive as we’d like. But overall, the Born’s cabin is a great place to be.
With the battery in the floor and no gearbox in the middle of the car, the Born’s interior feels spacious and airy. There’s good legroom in the back, and the boot offers 385 litres of room, which for context, is five litres more than a Golf. That means there’s space for a trio of carry-on suitcases and some soft bags, or a typical family’s weekly shop. That’s good going for a hatchback.
There’s space for a trio of carry-on suitcases and some soft bags
Running costs and reliability
It’s too early to comment on the reliability of a brand-new model, although the Cupra’s use of ID.3 underpinnings does at least bode well. The also-still-new Volkswagen model is considered to be reliable, so far, and with fewer moving parts than a petrol car, both Cupra and Volkswagen models initially have a two-year service schedule. From then on, it’s every 20,000 miles or year, whichever comes first.
Key to the car’s running costs will be its range. Cupra’s hatch comes with a claimed range of up to 264 miles, and it can charge with speeds of up to 130kW. If that latter number has gone over your head, just know it’s considered to a ‘rapid’ charge – and enables a claimed charge time of about 30 minutes if you’re taking the battery from 10% to 80%. It can gain charge with a rate of 300 miles of range per hour when attached to a rapid plug. That’s good going.
Cupra’s hatch comes with a claimed range of up to 264 miles
What we love
The ID.3 is a good but relatively plain electric hatch. The Cupra Born injects a welcome supply of fun to the base, adding heat where it matters. If you’re in the market for a sub-£40k electric car that’s got some character, this could very well be your best bet.
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Flash and well-made, the Cupra Born is a premium electric hatch with a racy vibe.
This review was