Cupra Born V3: long-term test review

First report: we look forward to seeing if the Cupra Born – the Spanish brand’s first EV – will be a perfect fit

  • 4.0 out of 5

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    It’s early days for our Cupra – and we haven’t really touched upon the much-maligned infotainment system (expect a full report on that one soon). But it’s good to see that the Born does feel different from its VW cousin overall, with a sportier look, a sharper drive and a cabin with a nicely judged mix of slightly more premium materials.

    • Mileage: 3,687
    • Efficiency: 3.4 miles/kWh
    • It will probably not surprise you to learn that I’m not much of an athlete, but I do have a penchant for a certain brand of trainers that offer a little more than the norm. We’re not talking extreme cross-country running here, but rather a standard format, made a little nicer with plusher, softer materials and funky colours.

      Now, it seems, I have the car to match – because a Cupra Born has just joined the fleet, and I’m going to spend the next few months getting a feel for the Volkswagen Group’s young, dynamic brand and what its car delivers over a comparable VW.

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      The Born is Cupra’s first pure-electric model and as such, it’s a close relative of the VW ID.3. I even suspect that if you put the two vehicles side by side, you’d notice some significant similarities in their wheelbases, overhangs and rooflines.

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      But where the Born follows the same trend as my footwear is how it takes the ID.3 – which ultimately ended up looking
      a bit humdrum compared with its original concept – and gives it a slightly sportier edge. Whether or not this is really suited to a pure-electric vehicle is a matter for debate, but there’s no doubt in my mind that the more rakish nose and the aero adornments on the side sills do give the Cupra a sharper look overall. Our car’s Rayleigh Red paintjob helps as well, of course; it’s considerably more striking than anything you’ll find in the VW’s palette. So I’ve ended up with a pair of Onitsuka Tigers on wheels, basically.

      As a brand, Cupra is pitched slightly above VW – somewhere between it and Audi, you’d reason, with a more sporting direction – and we’re certainly giving the Born every chance to impress between now and next spring. Our example is the range-topping V3, complete with the largest battery capacity available in the range – 77kWh – and a 227bhp rear-mounted motor with 310Nm of torque. It means the Cupra can sprint from 0-62mph in seven seconds, which is relatively modest by EV standards, but still up there with most hot hatchbacks.

      It’s not exactly cheap, this Born, at more than £43,000 – but V3 does bring everything bar the kitchen sink on the standard-kit list. There’s interior ambient lighting, 20-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and tail-lights, an augmented-reality head-up display, heated 12-way adjustable front seats with massage function, rain-sensing wipers, and a 12-inch touchscreen infotainment system.

      Our car then has a few extras on top of that – the metallic paint job for starters, but also what Cupra calls ‘Tech Pack Large’. It’s basically park assist, in practical terms, although the £775 bundle does also include a wireless phone charger and keyless entry (useful features), and vehicle-to-vehicle networking, which is markedly less useful, for the time being at least.

      My first impressions are that the Born is a well judged creation. The cabin feels a little more upmarket than the sister VW’s, with plusher fabrics and some natty cushioned material on top of the dashboard. It’s sharper dynamically too, plus quicker to respond to steering inputs, and so far at least, the sports suspension feels just on the right side of tolerable on UK roads.

      Meanwhile, the rest of the package is bang on what the MEB project was designed to deliver: generous family-car space in a vehicle that’s actually a little smaller than a conventionally powered VW Golf. I already wish there was a proper ‘frunk’ to store soaking-wet charging cables, but cluttered boot aside, my two-plus-one family fits in quite well. It’ll be interesting to see if, by the end of six months with me, the Born feels like a comfy pair of well worn trainers.

      Model:Cupra Born 77kWh V3 230PS
      On fleet since:November 2022
      Price new:£43,735
      Powertrain:1x e-motor, 227bhp/77kWh (usable)
      Options:Tech Pack L (£775), Rayleigh Red metallic paint (£590) 
      Insurance*:Group: 28P Quote: £765
      Efficiency:3.4 miles/kWh
      Any problems?None so far

      *Insurance quote from AA (0800 107 0680) for a 42-year-old in Banbury, Oxon, with three points.

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