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New Cupra Born VZ blasts off with 321bhp rear-drive powertrain

The all-electric Cupra Born has picked up some serious added firepower and chassis upgrades too

This is the Cupra Born VZ, a new high-spec version of the all-electric hatchback that’s promising some serious hot hatchback levels of performance. Its headline power figure is quoted at 321bhp and generated by a rear-mounted motor, but alongside the near-100bhp increase also come some chassis and styling upgrades. The Born VZ is set to go on sale later this year: might Cupra be the first to crack the all-electric hot hatchback?

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As well as its headline 321bhp power figure, Cupra is also quoting a huge torque increase to 545Nm, 235Nm more than before. These massively improved figures should completely transform the Cupra’s on-road performance, something previewed by its 5.7-second 0-62mph time. The top speed has also risen from 99mph to 120mph. 

This extra performance is generated from a new electric motor and inverter system that’s found on other recently updated MEB-platform models from Audi and Skoda. It draws power from a new battery pack, which is now rated at 79kWh, and comes with a peak DC fast charging capability of 170kW. Efficiency is also up, with Cupra quoting an estimated range of around 353 miles, up from 342 in the previous 77kWh model. 

Cupra has gone to some lengths to tighten up the Born’s chassis with revised spring and damper rates, new anti-roll bars and the standard fitment of adaptive dampers that vary their firmness based on the selected driver mode. They can also be more finely controlled in Individual mode through a slider on the slightly larger 12.9-inch central touchscreen. The steering and brakes have also been recalibrated to suit, but feature no new hardware despite the extra performance on offer. 

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Visually, not much has changed aside from the option of a new Forest Green and Midnight Black exterior paint colours and a bespoke set of slightly wider 20-inch wheels with high performance tyres.

Inside, the somewhat high-set seats have been replaced with new buckets as already featured on some EU-market Cupra Formentor models. These feature much more aggressively sculpted bolsters and unique leather and Dynamica upholstery. The steering wheel now also features paddles to adjust through three levels of regenerative braking – something unique to this model. 

The dashboard now features a new full-width LED lighting element similar to that found in other Cupra models, which isn’t just used as ambient light but also as a warning light for potential hazards and as a charge level indicator when the car is plugged in. 

The new Cupra Born VZ will arrive later this year with prices due to start well over the £43,000 price point of the existing top-spec VZ3, and it will precede the more substantial facelift due in 2025. When it does arrive, it will have a few high-powered rivals to consider, such as the MG4 XPower, Volvo EX30 Twin Motor and Smart #1 Brabus, but none of these have quite proven to be a real EV alternative to a proper hot hatchback, something Cupra will be aiming to achieve.

Now read our list of the best hot hatchbacks to buy...

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Senior staff writer

Senior staff writer at Auto Express, Jordan joined the team after six years at evo magazine where he specialised in news and reviews of cars at the high performance end of the car market. 

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