The new Cupra Born embodies a design with character and the excitement of electric driving. But what is it really worth on the road?
The Born is an electric hatchback whose size is in the middle of an evolving market. It’s not quite a compact city car and certainly doesn’t rival the most powerful electric SUVs, but it has a wide range of capabilities. With a claimed range of 215 miles for the base v1 version, it’s not a cruiser, but it’s more than comfortable on the motorway and the fast charging makes it easy to cover all but the most ambitious distances.
Cupra Born EV: brilliant around town
It also makes the Born a brilliant machine around town, with a greater range than cars like the Mini Electric, Peugeot e-208 and Honda e, meaning charging is required way less often. In top v3 spec, the battery pack is boosted to 77kWh and the range stretched to an impressive 264 miles. You also get the kind of extras usually found only in much more expensive machines, such as massage seats and a heated steering wheel (an essential for cold-weather driving when you’re trying to conserve battery). Other extras provided in the optional Tech L pack include wireless charging for your phone, keyless entry, and an intelligent park assist function. There’s also a nine-speaker audio system by Beats.
All in all, the Cupra Born offers a premium experience in a relatively small package, just the thing to lure people out of larger cars.
Just enough eccentricity
One of Cupra’s stated USPs is to make cars that are a little bit more exotic than your run-of-the-mill middle-market product. The Born is built on Volkswagen’s MEB electric platform (the Modularer E-Antriebs-Baukasten), a scalable system that underpins the company’s own ID range, the mid-size Audi Q4 e-tron and the excellent Škoda Enyaq iV. In terms of size and proportion, it matches up most closely to the VW ID.3, but where the Volkswagen is rather quotidian, the Born has little flourishes of eccentricity.
It boasts a face like a Gaudí gargoyle, and a badge that looks like an instrument from the Inquisition, while there are Calatrava-esque diversions into twisted geometry, particularly on the grille, dashboard, and D-pillar.
Splashes of the company’s signature copper finish lift the interior and exterior; our only quibble is the touch-sensitive controls for volume and heating (inherited from VW) that are fiendishly hard to operate consistently. Nevertheless, the Born sets itself apart without being overtly extrovert.
While global economics dictate that VW’s MEB-based cars must run the gamut of scale, we believe there’s a real benefit to downsizing. Leading industry figures have told us that advances in battery chemistry and production happen every month. Given this, VW’s recent decision to push back the introduction of its second-generation EV platform until 2028 would seem to make sense. As electrification comes of age, here’s hoping the modest automobile makes a comeback, offering efficiency, practicality, and style without sacrifice.