Cupra Born review
The Cupra Born offers a sporty edge over its fellow electric family hatchbacks
The all-electric Cupra Born moves the Spanish sporting brand into new territory, but has Cupra managed to produce an EV that delivers on its sporting aspirations? Well, sort of. The Born is definitely a more striking car to look at than the closely related Volkswagen ID.3, while its interior feels more premium, and it’s packed with kit.
Range and efficiency have proven to be excellent, and despite its sporty styling, the Born is still more than spacious enough for family car buyers. However, while the Born is one of the sharper and more fun-to-drive electric hatchbacks, it’s not really a performance model.
About the Cupra Born
There was a time when SEAT was known as the sporty spin-off marque of the Volkswagen Group, offering buyers a taste of VW build quality, technology, and engine performance at a more affordable price. However, the Spanish manufacturer’s former sub-brand turned standalone carmaker Cupra has now taken up the mantle of producing cars that deliver a sense of sportiness and driving fun.
After sprinkling its engineering know-how on rebranded versions of the Leon hatchback and Ateca SUV, Cupra launched its first all-new model, the Formentor coupe SUV, in 2020. Featuring potent petrol and plug-in hybrid engines (some with more than 300bhp), it was an impressive debut, and Cupra is now underway with expanding its line-up.
The Cupra Born is the brand’s first all-electric car, with two more – the Tavascan SUV and UrbanRebel city car – already on their way. Underneath the sharp bodywork, the Born is the mechanical sister car to the VW ID.3 hatchback, although we prefer the Cupra because of its more premium-feeling interior, sporty personality and slightly lower starting price.
The Born also comes with a generous list of standard kit that includes 18-inch alloys, LED headlights, adaptive cruise control and a 12-inch infotainment display with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity. You can choose from either V1, V2 or V3 specifications, with the higher grade trims adding premium touches such as bigger wheels, rear privacy glass, upgraded upholstery, heated front seats with a massage function and a driver’s head-up display.
The Renault Megane E-Tech is another key rival to the Born in the electric family hatchback segment. Its 280-mile range can’t match certain versions of the Cupra, but the all-electric Megane is more practical and features one of the best infotainment systems in any new car right now, which the Born simply cannot match.
Another major player in this arena is the MG4 EV, which is also a hoot to drive on a twisty road, yet it is still spacious, refined and practical. More importantly for some buyers, it costs several thousand pounds less than the Cupra, too. Born ownership starts from around £36,500, while an entry-level MG4 is nearly £10k less, starting at around £27,000. A top-spec 77kWh e-Boost model in V3 trim costs nearly £44,000, or around £7,500 more than the high-performance MG4 XPower.
There are three versions of the Born for sale, all of which use a single electric motor for rear-wheel drive. The base model has 201bhp on tap, while the mid-range variant can produce 227bhp thanks to an e-Boost function that temporarily increases the car’s power output. Both use a 58kWh battery for a range of around 260 miles, but the top-of-the-range Born gets a 77kWh battery that allows it to cover a claimed maximum of 343 miles from a single charge. An entry-level 45kWh powertrain was mooted to join the line-up, but this has since been shelved.
Engines, performance and drive
The Cupra Born sits on the same MEB platform that underpins various all-electric models across the Volkswagen Group, including the Audi Q4 e-tron, Skoda Enyaq iV and all of VW’s ID-badged cars from the ID.3 to the ID. Buzz.
But with Cupra being the performance arm of SEAT before it became a standalone brand, it’s tasked with making the Born feel more sporty and fun to drive than the rather bland VW ID.3 it shares so much with. Both cars have to bear the extra weight of their batteries; the lightest 58kWh Born is still more than 1,800kg, while the 77kWh V3 model tops the scales at more than two tonnes. That’s pretty hefty for a five-door hatchback, or a family SUV, for that matter.
Cupra’s efforts result in the Born feeling pretty settled through the corners, with its lower centre of gravity due to the positioning of the batteries low along the floor helping to keep any body lean to a minimum during changes direction. Switch into the Cupra driving mode, and you’ll notice the extra weight of the steering compared to its normal driving mode. A little more feedback would be welcome, as would firmer brakes if the Born is to be considered a true sporting hatch.
The Born’s chassis is inherently quite stiff, so the car tends to bounce about a bit on rough surfaces. However, it’s rarely uncomfortable, and the damping manages to take the edge off potholes or deep cracks in the road surface. As you’d expect, base models with their 18-inch wheels and taller tyre profiles have an even more comfortable ride, but without any discernible trade-off in handling compared with a top-spec Born on 20-inch rims.
Acceleration off the mark is typically lively for an EV, which helps to make the Born quite fun around town, while it's pretty responsive at higher motorway speeds, too. It’s refined too, with road and wind noise kept at bay for the most part, making it a relaxing car to be in when you’re not attacking corners.
There are just two modes for the regenerative braking, the strongest of which provides a decent amount of stopping power when you lift off the throttle, but it’s not capable of full one-pedal driving.
0-62mph acceleration and top speed
The entry 58kWh Born model delivers 201bhp and covers the 0-62mph benchmark in a reasonable 7.3 seconds. For more straight line speed you’ll need to upgrade to the 58kWh 227bhp version, which brings the sprint time down to 6.6 seconds.
Cupra also offers a Born variant with a bigger 77kWh battery. It provides increased range, but its additional weight increases the 0-62mph time to 7.0 seconds. All models have the same 310Nm torque figure and 99mph maximum speed, while Cupra’s e-Boost function, which provides an extra 30bhp on kickdown, is available as an option on 58kWh and standard on 77kWh models.
Range, charging and running costs
The Born is offered with a choice of either a 58kWh or 77kWh battery, with an entry-level 45kWh version due to join the line-up somewhere down the road. The 201bhp 58kWh model can cover up to 265 miles on a single charge, although this is dependent on which trim you choose – opting for the highest V3 specification (with bigger 20-inch wheels and extra kit) will lower the predicted range to around 234 miles.
The 228bhp 58kWh version returns the same range, despite its extra bump in power, while the top-of-the-range Born fitted with its 77kWh battery and 228bhp can cover a maximum of 343 miles before needing to recharge.
As with all EVs, factors such as your individual driving style, the type of road you’re travelling on, and the outside temperature will all impact the Born’s overall range. That said, Cupra’s first EV has proven to be very efficient, averaging an impressive 3.9 miles per kWh when we tested a 77kWh Born against the Renault Megane E-Tech, which managed 3.7mi/kWh in the same conditions.
Charging speed is as important to family buyers as overall range, because any benefit from travelling a good distance on a single charge will be immediately lost if you have to wait a long time to replenish the battery before moving on. Fortunately, the Born is up to the task; the 58kWh model has a maximum charging speed of 125kW, which means a 5-80 per cent top-up from a rapid chargepoint can take just 35 minutes. A Born fitted with the 77kWh battery will max out at 135kW, so despite the bigger battery, charging from 5-80 per cent takes only marginally longer at 36 minutes.
A standard home wallbox will only supply 7.4kW and will take just over nine hours to fully recharge 58kWh Born, or over 12 hours for the 77kWh version.
All 201bhp Born models sit in insurance group 25, irrespective of which trim level you opt for. Moving up to the 228bhp e-Boost version (58kWh battery) only sees a slight jump to group 26, while the 77kWh variant lands in group 28.
In comparison, most Volkswagen ID.3 models occupy groups 25-26, so there’s not much of an insurance penalty if you go for the sportier set-up of the Born. The Cupra’s insurance ratings are also on par with its key rivals, the MG4 EV (27-29) and Renault Megane E-Tech (26-27).
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Buyers will be reassured by the Born’s decent residual values. Over a typical three-year/36,000-mile ownership period, the all-electric hatchback is predicted to hold on to around 50 per cent of its original value. This stacks up well against the similar figures of the closely related Volkswagen ID.3.
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Interior, design and technology
From the outside, the Born definitely plays the part of a sporty hatch well. Its low-slung stance and short overhangs are complemented by chunky alloy wheels (20-inch on V3 models), while Cupra copper accents at the front and rear help give a distinctive look.
Take a peek inside the cabin, and you’ll be able to spot the similarities to the Volkswagen ID.3, although the Born feels more stylish with plush suede finishes, front sport seats, and more copper detailing. It’s a definite improvement over the ID.3, although we still think quality could do with a lift in places, especially considering the £36k starting price.
Some of the ID.3’s fiddly switchgear has been carried over, too. For instance, the dual-function electric window switches require you to press a touch-sensitive tab to choose either front or rear opening, which is just daft, while the touch-sensitive sliders for the cabin temperature and volume are infuriating to use and don’t light up at night. We much prefer the physical buttons and ergonomics in the Renault Megane E-Tech.
Cupra has designed the Born with a younger buyer in mind, and aside from nailing its sporty brief, it also includes decent levels of onboard technology. Entry V1 models feature a 12-inch infotainment screen with integrated sat-nav, a 5.3-inch Digital Cockpit display and wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity, while upgrading to the V2 specification adds a head-up display. V3 trim just gets you more luxuries, such as electric massaging seats and even bigger rims.
A standard three-year ‘Remote Access’ subscription allows you to control certain functions of your car using the SEAT Connect app on your smartphone – you can perform tasks such as pre-warming the cabin, remotely lock/unlocking the car and scheduling a service.
Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment
Infotainment duties in the Born are handled by the 12-inch central touchscreen mentioned above running Cupra’s software. Unfortunately, it’s not the most responsive set-up we’ve tested, especially compared with the snappy, Google-powered infotainment system in its close rival, the Megane E-Tech.
Operating a function via the screen, particularly when on the move, is more difficult than it should be. When swiping through the menus, it’s all too easy to adjust the volume or air-conditioning levels via the touch-sensitive sliders at the base of the display. The buttons on the multi-function steering wheel aren’t particularly responsive, either.
Practicality, comfort and boot space
Although the Born has a sporting bias, it still offers decent levels of comfort, and there are plenty of soft-touch materials used in the cabin. We’d recommend the optional Dinamica bucket seats, which are particularly supportive.
For a sharply-styled hatchback, all-around visibility is generally good, although we found things a little awkward at times – particularly at off-set junctions. The large A-pillars hinder a clear line of sight, while the deep dashboard design and small front quarter windows didn’t help alleviate the issue.
Cupra has been pretty generous with levels of standard equipment for the Born, and it features a lot of kit that improves overall comfort and practicality. LED headlights, automatic wipers, adaptive cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, and a rear-view camera are available on the entry V1 model, while the V2 adds heated front seats, a heated steering wheel and an augmented reality head-up display. For those in need of extra luxury, the top-spec V3 trim features 12-way electrically adjustable Dinamica bucket seats with a massage function.
In terms of storage space, the front door bins are huge, and there’s a deep bin under the central armrest, plus two cup holders. The only small negative is the glovebox, which is half the size it should be because of where the fuse box is located.
At 4,322mm long, the Born extends an extra 61mm over the closely related Volkswagen ID.3, although both all-electric hatchbacks are 1,809mm wide. As you might expect, the sporty Born sits lower to the ground (compared to the ID.3) at 1,540mm versus 1,568mm.
Leg room, head room and passenger space
There is plenty of room for both the driver and front passenger, and those travelling in the rear won’t feel too shortchanged either, with enough space to accommodate three adult passengers. It all feels very spacious in the Enyaq with good head and legroom throughout the cabin – more so, we think than in any combustion-powered SUV of similar size. The flat floor adds to the sense of limo-like comfort, too, and provides the middle passenger with more legroom.
The front seat backs also feature two pockets: one traditional ‘map’ pocket and a second, smaller one that’s perfect for a smartphone. Back-seat passengers also get folding tray tables, while the chunky, plastic surrounds that house the Isofix points make fitting a child seat nice and easy.
With a 385-litre boot, the Born offers a few litres extra luggage capacity over a Volkswagen Golf and MG4 EV, but can’t compete with the Renault Megane E-Tech's 440-litre load space. Like the Renault, there’s no ‘frunk’ or any storage space under the Cupra’s bonnet, either.
Folding the Cupra’s rear seats gives you 1,267 litres of space to play with. However, the seats don’t fold completely flat, and the false boot floor that helps mitigate that is an optional extra. It’s bundled with a three-pin charging cable, but still, it seems a little mean if you’re buying a top-of-the-range Born worth around £45k.
Reliability and Safety
Cupra has only been a standalone brand for a couple of years, but it’s part of the wider VW Group and the Born sits on the same all-electric MEB platform as the Volkswagen ID.3. In fact, both hatchbacks are produced at VW’s plant in Zwickau, Germany, so we’d expect reliability to be pretty solid, given the part-sharing across the two brands.
Although Cupra didn’t feature in our 2023 Driver Power survey of the best manufacturers, parent company SEAT finished in 23rd position (out of 32 brands), with Volkswagen four places behind. With other mainstream auto-makers such as Kia and Hyundai fast developing a reputation for producing accomplished all-electric cars, along with delivering impressive customer service, SEAT (and Cupra) will want to improve on its mid-table finish.
Industry body Euro NCAP awarded the Born a five-star crash safety rating, with scores of 93 per cent for adult occupant safety and 89 per cent for child passenger protection. An 80 per cent score for safety assist systems reflects the Born’s strong levels of standard kit; all models include adaptive cruise control with speed limiter, a forward collision warning with automatic braking, a Driver Alert System, lane assist and road sign recognition.
The Born comes with a three-year/60,000-mile warranty as standard, although you can extend coverage for an extra two years at additional cost. Meanwhile, the lithium-ion battery in the Born is covered for up to eight years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first.
The Cupra Born follows the same fixed service schedule as the ID.3, which involves a simple inspection service after two years. After that, the Born needs to be serviced yearly or 20,000 miles, whichever comes first. Cupra offers its e-Care servicing plans for the electric hatchback covering either two, three or four-year periods, with prices starting from as little as £4 per month.
For an alternative review of the Cupra Born, visit our sister site drivingelectric.com...