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Cupra Born Review

Introduction

It is four years since SEAT relaunched its performance arm, Cupra, as a standalone brand.

In that time, cars that previously would have worn SEAT badges have been taken in their own direction. And Cupra has even launched a vehicle of its own, the Formentor, which you won't find in the parent company's range.

Select's rating score* - 4.2 / 5

At A Glance

That trend is continuing with this new vehicle, the Born – there is no standard SEAT version. It is an all-electric compact family car designed to take on the likes of the Kia e-Niro and the Hyundai Ioniq 5.

You may think that the hatchback’s name means something along the lines of ‘the birth of Cupra’s all-electric range’. But it’s named after El Born - a trendy neighbourhood full of designer shops in the La Ribera district of Barcelona, Spain.

The Born may as well have been given a German name (possibly “Das Kopy Kat” or “Das Tracing Paper”) because it is basically a Volkswagen’s ID.3 with a different body. The model shares the same architecture, although whereas the ID.3 is intended as a sensible family car, the Cupra is marketed as the cooler, sport-focused, trouble-making variant.


It certainly looks like it means business. The bonnet slopes down towards the front, leaving room for a modest false grille. The lower grille is significantly more prominent and dominates the bottom half of the front end. It has two thin struts of bodywork on either side, creating the impression of a couple of air intakes. The front headlights are triangular, tapering into a point towards the middle. This forms a mean, belligerent frown.

At the side, there is a crease that travels through the middle of the door handles. Shaped side skirts with an indentation create an athletic appearance, while black bodywork extends from the rear passenger windows to the posterior. The shape of the rear is also discernible from the side, with a large roof spoiler overhanging the back windows.

The taillights are joined together via a strip of LEDs. This strip spans the boot lid, while the number plate is housed in a blackened bodywork section. This contrasts nicely with the primary body colour of the vehicle.

While it isn’t the most aggressive vehicle Cupra has in its range, it looks the part and gives off the impression of a hot hatch. The model goes about its business quietly for the obvious reason of not having a combustion engine.

1

Key Features

In line with the rest of the Cupra brand, the Born’s trims are named with a ‘V’, so there’s V1, V2 and V3.

If you are familiar with Cupra's nomenclature, you may be disappointed to learn that there are no VZ trims. In other cars in the range, 'VZ' indicates additional high performance.

Nevertheless, the Born comes very well equipped as standard, even at entry-level.

V1 trim includes 18-inch alloys, electrically adjustable folding and heated door mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, and an acoustic windscreen (for extra soundproofing). You also get LED headlights and taillights, adaptive cruise control (with stop function), a rear-view camera, a 5.3-inch digital cockpit, and a 12-inch infotainment display. The kit also includes Bluetooth, Satnav, a DAB radio, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, a voice assistant, and aluminium sports pedals. You get multi-coloured ambient lighting, dual-zone air conditioning, a heated leather steering wheel, and keyless go, too.

V2 trim upgrades the alloys to 19-inches and adds tinted rear windows, an augmented reality head-up display and heated front seats.

The flagship V3 trim upgrades the alloys again to 20-inches.

This is impressive because it means Cupra isn’t selling you short with the entry-level model. The V1 gives you all the cake, while V2 provides some icing, and V3 adds the cherry on top.

There are two power levels, too. The V1 trim is only available with the lowest power, which is 204PS, while the V2 is available in both 204PS and 230PS variants. The V3 grade is only available with the higher-powered 230PS version.

Range & Batteries

There are two battery sizes to choose from.

The V1 trim is fitted with the 58kWh battery, which claims a range of 259 miles. Not sure what kWh translates to? Read our handy guide page on kWh and kW explained.

The V2 trim comes with a choice of the 58kWh (257 miles) or the larger 77kWh battery (339 miles).

Finally, the V3 trim also comes with a selection of both batteries (although, due to the extra power, it has a slightly reduced range of 252 miles with the 58kWh battery and 333 miles with the 77kWh battery).

On all trims, if you have the lower 58kWh battery, you’ll get the 204PS motor, while if you pick the larger 77kWh battery, you’ll get the 230PS motor. The exception is that, on the V2 trim, you can have 230PS and the 58kWh battery. Surprisingly, this improves the range, with Cupra claiming it’ll manage 260 miles. If you suffer from range anxiety, we've built a guide around the electric car range to help.

What’s more, there will be a smaller 45kWh battery ushered in later this year. It produces 150PS and has an approximate 210-mile range but is likely to only be available on the V1 trim.

Anything that touches the 300-mile mark is impressive by today’s standards. Many electric vehicle (EV) makers are still stuck in the 200-range, though, and most of the Cupra Born line up is in this ballpark. Therefore, it is worth comparing it against other brands if you need to drive long-distance. After all, battery technology is continuing to move along at a brisk pace. If you're in need of a long range EV, read our compiled list of the top 10 longest range electric cars of 2022!

Performance & Drive

Given Cupra is a performance brand, the 0-62mph figures are on the slow side. For example, the lower-powered 204PS takes 7.3-seconds, while the 230PS version gets to 62mph in 7.0-seconds.

We were disappointed by these numbers because all-electric cars tend to have loads of torque off the line. After all, there are bigger all-electric SUVs that are quicker than this.


Maybe we are being harsh, though, because the Born is every bit as fast as it needs to be. The entry-level version is more than adequate for low-speed manoeuvring around town, while the higher-powered edition is better suited to motorway driving.

Given Cupra’s credentials, we just imagined that the Born would have more grunt. If you’re the sort of person that’s in the market for a hot hatch, you will likely want the higher-powered version.

We tested the 230PS variant and can report that it pulls away well from a standing start and doesn’t struggle to make good progress.

In terms of handling, it is fractionally taller than the Volkswagen ID.3 on which it’s based, but it rides low to the ground. Therefore, this helps to keep it well planted, and it moves about well, helped by good grip levels and direct steering.

The vehicle is settled at higher speeds and feels smooth and comfortable. However, its sports suspension has a firmer ride than its rivals, so you will feel potholes and creases in the road surface more. There is an optional dynamic chassis control suspension which helps with ride comfort. But then, if you want something more comfortable, you’re unlikely to be shopping around for a hot hatch.


On twisty B-roads, we expected the Born to be in its element, but we ended up feeling a tad frustrated. Although the handling is decent, it feels a bit on the weighty side and, as a result, lacking in agility. Throw it into a bend, and you get quite a bit of body roll. It is not a considerable amount, and it doesn't ruin it entirely, but enough to belie the car's athletic, low-to-the-ground appearance.

Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised, given it’s an ID.3 underneath, but then we expected the Born’s personality would be a cut above. Instead, however, we found that it’s only slightly nimbler than the VW in practice.

One considerable criticism of pre-production models of the Born was that its stopping power was a bit lacklustre for a performance car. But the 230PS e-Boost version, which we’re driving, adds bigger brakes, which certainly helps.

There is some road and wind clamour at speed, but it’s not severe, and it’s only noticeable because of the lack of an engine note.

Charging

The Cupra Born can charge at speeds of up to 170kW. This means you can get from 10 per cent to 80 per cent charge in around 15 minutes with the smaller battery and about 20 minutes with the larger one.

With a 7kW home wall box, you will be able to get from 0-100 per cent in approximately nine hours on the smaller battery, while the larger one will take about 12 hours. To read more about the most efficient way you can charge your EV, refer to our guide on choosing your ideal charger.

Running Costs & Emissions

No engine means no emissions, and no emissions mean no road tax to pay, so there's a saving straight away.

And in case you were wondering, yes, it is still much cheaper to fill up your car with electric juice rather than taking a fossil-fuelled car to the petrol station. This is despite the recent massive energy price hikes.

The zero emissions also mean it will be in the bottom bracket for company car tax. So, if you want something vaguely exciting but financially sensible, then the Cupra Born could be a good option.

This Cupra is too new to know how reliable it will be. But, given it’s basically a Volkswagen ID.3 with a different body on it, we are yet to hear about any significant problems from VW’s side. Admittedly, Volkswagen’s reputable German reliability isn’t as dependable as many people think, though.

If reliability is key to your decision making, you will want to be looking toward the East Asian brands, such as Kia and Hyundai.

Interior & Technology

The Cupra Born’s interior is styled well, and it looks like it belongs in a hot hatch.

It is not overly luxurious or opulent, but it sure looks the part, with few distractions to take your focus off driving.


The steering wheel is meaty and flat-bottomed, while the 12-inch infotainment screen is bolted to the dashboard like a tablet. The dash itself is two-tiered, with the screen overhanging the lower part.

The infotainment system has clear and crisp-looking graphics. It is attractive, colourful, and easy to use, although it does lag a bit and feels rather clunky.

The sports seats, which are made of synthetic suede upholstery in our car, look impressive and are comfortable, too.

Practicality & Boot Space

Finding a good driving position isn’t difficult at all.

You won’t struggle for head or legroom in the front. And those in the back will be surprised by how much space is on offer for what is, after all, a relatively small car.

You will battle to fit three fully-grown adults comfortably in the back seats, but two won't have any problem unless they are very tall. The seats are a bit flat, so the support under your thighs is lacking, but that’s a minor gripe.


There is a good view out of the front windscreen from the driver's perspective, although the vista out of the back is somewhat limited. The rear-view camera and parking sensors offset some of the inconvenience, however.

In terms of storage spaces, there are plenty of them. There are two spacious storage cubbies in the centre console, while the door bins are well-sized, especially in the front. The Born’s glove compartment is less generous, but you will probably not need to rely on it.

If the middle seat is vacant, you can fold it down as an armrest in the back. This reveals a couple of cupholders, although ironically, their positioning right in the middle of it means resting your arm on it isn't the most comfortable.


When it comes to the Cupra’s USB sockets, you get four - two in the front and two in the back.

And, in terms of boot space, you get 385-litres – the same as the ID.3. This swells to 1,267-litres, with the rear seats down in the VW. Cupra hasn’t said what you get in the Born, although it’s likely to be very similar. The seats fold away in a 60/40 split.

The only fly in the boot's ointment is a slight load lip. This can make lifting heavier and bulkier items in and out a little trickier.

Safety

The Cupra Born hasn’t been crash-tested yet by the automotive safety body, Euro NCAP.


However, given it is nearly identical to a Volkswagen ID.3, we can report that the VW scored five stars when tested in 2020. It scored 87 per cent for adult occupants, 89 per cent for children and 88 per cent for safety assists. So that should give you a good idea of the ballpark the Cupra is in.

The Born comes with forward collision warning with automatic braking, lane assist, park distance control in the front and rear, dynamic steering, and a driver alert system with tiredness recognition. It is also fitted with a tyre pressure monitoring system, emergency steering support with turn assist and a proactive passenger protection system.

Options

The default body colour is Vapor Grey, but if you want metallic white, silver, dark grey or red, it's an extra few hundred pounds. Aurora Blue, which is a premium metallic colour, is more still.


Other optional extras include a panoramic sunroof, a Cargo Pack (which consists of a double boot-floor and charging cables), a heat pump and dynamic chassis control.

Illuminated door handles, park assist, and a wireless phone charger are also available with the Tech Pack.

A BeatsAudio nine-speaker sound system is obtainable for a bit more money, too.

Rival Cars

Of course, given we have mentioned it several times, the most obvious alternative to the Born is the Volkswagen ID.3. The two cars are fundamentally identical, albeit with different bodyshells, and the Cupra is set up slightly differently (although not different enough in our view).

Other electrically powered cars you might want to consider leasing are the Mini Electric hatch, the Peugeot e-208, the Hyundai Kona Electric and the MG 5.

The BMW i3 might also be worth bearing in mind, although it’s being discontinued soon.

If you want to lease something a little bigger, the Hyundai Ioniq 5, Kia EV6 and the Tesla Model 3 might also be worth looking at.


Verdict & Next Steps

The Cupra Born is likely to be a popular car. It has the looks and the classy interior, the range, performance, and handling, plus the equipment and practicality to be a big deal.

The car does feel a little restrained, though, seeing as Cupra is meant to be producing the full beans let-loose-with-your-hair-down versions of SEATs.

The lack of responsiveness on the infotainment system gets on your nerves, too.

Still, these are mere blemishes on what is a very good car at heart.

If you are after a relatively sporty all-electric car, this should suffice. Meanwhile, those who aren't interested in athleticism should stick to the very similar ID.3 on which it's based.

Even if the Cupra Born does feel a tad tame, it has a lot more personality and more hot hatch credentials than many of its closest challengers.

Where to next?

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*Score based on Select’s unique meta score analysis, taking into account the UK’s top five leading independent car website reviews of the Cupra Born

**Correct as of 28/04/2022. Based on 9 months initial payment, 5,000 miles over a 48 month lease. Initial payment equivalent to 9 monthly payments or £3,661.65 Ts and Cs apply. Credit is subject to status.

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