More power, more thrills
Sportiness starts with its looks. The Born (named after a trendy neighbourhood in Barcelona) is not a two-seater coupé, but it is overtly designed as an electric car from the first sketch. The short bonnet, large passenger compartment and slightly tall build (to accommodate a battery in the bottom) show that.
This set-up is standard for electric cars. The Cupra is really different thanks to its lines, as the Born has a stocky stature with a sharp nose and lines pointing emphatically forward. Thus, the Born radiates speed even when standing still! The roof is in a contrasting colour that makes the bodywork appear lower. A pattern on the C-pillar optically intertwines the two halves.
In case this layout looks familiar, it is correct because the Cupra Born shares the platform with the Volkswagen ID.3. This is especially obvious inside, as the dashboard of both cars has the same layout and the same displays (small on top of the steering column, large centrally on the dashboard). One difference is in the seats, as Cupra always provides sports seats or even bucket seats. The latter offer extra lateral support while being sufficiently comfortable for intensive daily use.
Naturally, the Born has an extravagant decoration. This is in the choice of materials, colours and patterns. As a result, the occupants always feel privileged and the Born is interesting even without driving fast. A fun fact: the soft fabric of the bucket seats consists of recycled plastic from the Spanish fishing industry.
As the Cupra Born shares technology with the Volkswagen ID.3, both cars have broadly the same equipment. The audio, communication and satnav system is similar to that of the other Volkswagen and Seat models, only Cupra gives it its own design. The smart assistant now listens to the code word "Hola, Hola" (although it also responded to a lot of similar-sounding terms during testing). Like the mid-size electric Volkswagen, the Cupra can also be fitted with a head-up display that displays information for the driver "floating" in front of the car in the driver's view.
Unique to Cupra is the choice of audio system. The standard audio system already stands out with great dynamics and is therefore always ready for a party. The optional system from Beats-audio adds more clarity and musicality, making it more enjoyable during prolonged use.
The Cupra Born will be available with three different batteries and two different engines. For this test, the most tame version was driven first: the 58 kWh battery and 150 PS electric motor. This is smooth, quiet and supple but differs little from other electric cars (and the ID.3 with which it shares technology). During the test, it could easily cover 300 km on a full battery, which is the best balance between price, weight and usability in practice.
However, apart from a slightly firmer chassis, the Born hardly differs from other electric cars and does not convince as a sports car or even as a sporty car. Or to put it more bluntly: in the base version, the Cupra Born is nothing more than a nicely dressed up Volkswagen ID.3 at a very reasonable additional price.
To really experience what the Born is capable of and what Cupra stands for, it is necessary to opt for the most powerful variant with the most extensive equipment. That alone offers so much advanced technology that the Born immediately gives the feeling of driving a car of a new generation.
Moreover, the more powerful versions feature a stronger battery (77 kWh), wider tyres, larger rims and progressive steering. Although the battery is always built into the floor, thus ensuring a low and central centre of gravity, the top version is much better balanced. As a result, the driver immediately notices that the Born is extremely capable and is naturally challenged to make use of it. This is very satisfying and so the Born continuously challenges the driver to misbehave!
One of the Born's important qualities is that this electric car manages to disguise its high weight. However, this is not true when braking! Already after a few firm braking actions, the feeling in the brake pedal changes. Overall, the brakes are initially biting and alert, but the more the car is played with, the more difficult it is reducing speed to actually coming to a stop. For completeness, this is independent of any energy recovery during braking.
Even in calm driving, it is noticeable that the 204 hp / 310 Nm strong version has more reserve and reacts much more alertly to the accelerator. This makes the Born livelier and also adds to its sporty character. The difference from the base version is especially noticeable at high speeds, as even above 100 km/h the strongest Born still has an overwhelming reserve on hand. As if that were not enough, the Born can briefly deliver an extra 20 kW of power and then offers more excitement than an everyday electric car.
Building a sporty electric car is quite a challenge. By nature, electric cars already have a low centre of gravity, strong motors and even rear-wheel drive. Large batteries and fast charging make travelling long distances carefree and easy. So the bar is high, and since Cupra's parent company offers a car that uses the same technology (the Volkswagen ID.3), it is even harder to improve on that. When opting for the base version, the Cupra is therefore no more than an originally dressed-up car, but the Born offers no more sportiness than similar cars with the same price tag.
When opting for a strong and luxurious version of the Born, Cupra can actually stand out extremely well. Then the occupants are spoilt with modern technology that makes driving not only more interesting, but also safer and easier. The Cupra Born is extremely capable thanks to a modified chassis (rims, tyres, steering, ride height) and when those capabilities are called upon, it is great fun to drive. Thanks to a powerful electric motor (with momentary "boost"), the Born also delivers the exciting performance Cupra stands for.
- Big range, fast charging
- Plenty of driving pleasure
- Low price, low cost per mile
- Brakes not designed for intensive use
- Not enough sportiness in basic version