Cupra Born road test review: Born to be electric, DAVID HOOPER puts this 77kWh V3 e-Boost model through its paces.
IF you’re not familiar with the Cupra brand, it’s essentially the sporting arm of Spanish carmaker Seat which has now become a manufacturer in its own right.
This quirkily-named Born model is the brand’s first fully electric car, designed with driving fun in mind, with parts pinched from parent company VW’s parts bins, while under its skin, the Born is closely related to VW’s ID.3 model. More new Cupra electric models are on their way soon, and will be called the Tavascan and UrbanRebel!
If you fancy a Cupra Born, prices start from around £36,000, but another £7,000 will get you the top 77kWh model in V3 trim.
The Cupra Born looks pretty stylish for a family car, helped by its copper coloured accents, and comes with 18in alloys as standard, LED headlights, adaptive cruise control and a 12in infotainment display, plus three trim levels, V1, V2 or V3.
The front of the car has a large bronze flash under the number plate and I liked the discrete corporate wording under the lip of the bonnet, and its distinctive badge, sitting on its nose.
It all looks very smart inside too, where the copper-coloured trim theme is carried through into the interior elements of copper stitching around the dashboard top, on the air vents and some trim on the door cards and centre console. The pattern on the dashboard facing carries through into the doors and onto the seats, so the whole interior has an integrated and co-ordinated feel to it which gives the car an upmarket premium ambience.
Sitting in the middle of the dash is a large screen which controls most of the main functions, including Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, navigation, telephony and trip computers which in electric vehicles instead of showing mpg, now show miles per kilowatt hour, which in the case of the Cupra reveal that during my test I averaged 3.2 miles/kWh at an average speed of 34mph and over a total distance of nearly 450 miles. The e-Boost function increases the car’s power output, taking it temporarily from 201bhp up to 227bhp when needed – useful for quick overtakes!
The Cupra Born is a comfortable and confident car to travel in with a slightly raised SUV style seating position giving a good view through the large glassy windows.
The gear selector isn’t in the usual place, which takes a little getting used to, as it’s perched behind the steering wheel to the right of the panel that sits behind it, but once you get used to it, it works quite well you simply twist it forward for drive or back to reverse while the button on the end of the stalk is the parking brake. A second notch forward selects the regenerative braking mode which helps extend battery life on a longer run as the car slows down.
Different driving modes can be selected by pressing a button on the steering wheel which gives you a choice of Performance, Cupra, individual settings, or range if you have to eke out every mile that you can from your battery.
The buttons on the steering wheel had me perplexed and frustrated for a while, as they didn’t seem to do anything I wanted them to do, especially the plus and minus for the volume and the cruise control. It was just over two days before I finally worked out that you had to actually stroke the buttons up or down to adjust the volume or the speed setting on the cruise control. Once I had worked that out, I was much happier with the car.
The Cupra’s 77kWh, battery provides a range of around 240 miles once fully charged, which was easy to do now I have a Pod Point charger at home, which makes living with an EV so much more enjoyable than having to rely on a three pin socket which can literally take days to charge a big car battery! A full charge was enough for me to manage a trip to North Yorkshire and back without having to recharge the car, although it was fairly borderline distance wise, and with a distinct lack of public charging points available according to Zap-Map, so slightly nervy!
As a package, the Cupra Born works very well – it has a decent range and is nice to drive and like all good sports cars features rear wheel drive which gives the car a nice balance and of course being electric it has seamless acceleration from rest to 62 mph in a rapid 7.0 seconds and can continue on to 99mph top speed.
Our test car sits on 20in rims shod with Continental’s Eco-Contact 6 tyres which may help with the range thanks to their low rolling resistance, but they can feel a bit squidgy on a sports car when it is driven reasonably quickly on some twisting and undulating roads.
Once at my destination in the picturesque Goathland, I didn’t dare to drive the car again until commencing the return leg, which would have increased my own Heartbeat if I couldn’t find a charger!!
The Cupra comes with lots of toys and will manoeuvre itself into a parking space if you use park assist, and also has several driver alerts and smart assistance like lane keeping assist, road sign recognition, eco-assistance, and radar cruise control.
On the road, the car drives very well with the sporty seats in the top model I tested providing plenty of support and comfort on a longer drive, and you don’t have to worry about keeping your phone charged up on the move as the space created by moving the gear selector elsewhere means there is a slot for a phone.
The boot is also a good size and the rear seats fold down in a 60/40 split to provide extra load carrying capacity when required and it’s quick and easy to do.
The Cupra Born is a good car, but it’s not cheap, especially in the top spec tested here.
THE VITAL STATISTICS
MODEL: Cupra Born 77kWh V3 e-Boost
BATTERY: 77kWh, 230PS e-Boost, permanent magnetic synchronous electric motor, single speed automatic driving the rear wheels.
PERFORMANCE: Top speed 99mph, 0-62mph in 7.0 secs.
ECONOMY: Electric consumption 15.7-17.5 kWh/100km) WLTP
CHARGING: AV 11 kW 0-100% 7hrs 30 mins
DC 135 kW 5-80% 36 mins
CO2 EMISSIONS: 0g/km.
PRICE: £45,195 as tested
WARRANTY: 3 years/60,000 miles
• All data correct at time of publication.