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In-depth reviews

Cupra Born review: family EV with a sporty edge

The Cupra Born offers a sporty edge over its fellow electric family hatchbacks

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Price
£34,125 to £41,385
  • Sporty looks
  • Instant acceleration
  • Feels sharper to drive than a VW ID.3
  • Largest battery pack only on most expensive trim
  • Infuriating climate controls
  • Thick A-pillars hamper visibility
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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.

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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 Cupra Leon hatchback and Cupra Ateca SUV, Cupra launched its first all-new model, the Cupra 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.

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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 additional performance, sporty personality and slightly larger standard infotainment screen.

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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. Despite a reduction in price, Born ownership starts from around £35,000, while an entry-level MG4 is considerably less, starting at around £27,000. A top-spec 77kWh e-Boost model in V3 trim costs over £41,000, or around £5,000 more than the high-performance MG4 XPower.

A simplification of the Born line-up means that all new orders going forward will use the 227bhp electric motor set-up, with an e-Boost function that temporarily increases the car’s power output. There is a choice of two different battery sizes, depending on how far you’d like to go on a charge. The smaller 58kWh model offers around 260 miles of range, while the larger 77kWh battery (available only on the top-of-the-range V3 model) should cover around 350 miles on a charge. Meanwhile, a hotter VZ model to match the equivalents in the Leon, Forementor, and Ateca ranges will join the Born ranks soon, promising a 5.7-second 0-62mph time thanks to a 321bhp electric motor.

Cupra Born 77kWh V3 long-term test

Editor-at-large, John Mcllroy, ran a Cupra Born for six months in 2023 and covered a little over 5,000 miles in it. He completed mostly urban journeys, but did endeavour to take it on a long family holiday and a few extended day trips, where John found the range to be perfectly usable, leaving him in no doubt that the 77kWh battery pack was more than enough for family life.  

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What was more frustrating during his time with the car was the scheduled charging function that didn’t work. This is an important feature for any EV driver on an electric-car-specific home electricity tariff to take advantage of cheaper rates, but John had to manually do this with an app on his phone rather than rely on what he’d programmed into the car touchscreen.

Engines, performance and drive

With brisk rather than seriously rapid performance on tap, the Born has just enough punch for a sporty hatchback

​The Cupra Born sits on the same MEB platform that underpins various all-electric models across the Volkswagen Group, including the Audi Q4 e-tronSkoda 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 must 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 body lean to a minimum during changes of direction. Switch into the sportiest ‘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.

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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 of regenerative braking, the strongest of which provides a decent amount of stopping power when you lift off the throttle, but isn’t capable of one-pedal driving, and doesn’t have the variability of the Megane E-Tech.

0-62mph acceleration and top speed

The entry-level  227bhp 58kWh Born provides a swift 0-62mph acceleration time of 6.6 seconds, which is swifter than the 7.5-second time of the Megane E-Tech or 7.9-second sprint of some versions of VW ID.3.

Cupra also offers a Born variant with a bigger 77kWh battery. It provides increased range, but its additional weight stretches the 0-62mph time to 7.0 seconds. All models have the same 310Nm torque figure and 99mph maximum speed.

Range, charging and running costs

Excellent range and rapid charge times mean longer journeys shouldn’t pose significant problems; insurance is higher compared with some rivals

The Born is offered with a choice of either a 58kWh or 77kWh battery. The 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 top-of-the-range Born fitted with its 77kWh battery and can cover a maximum of 343 miles before needing to recharge.

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​​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. 

A heat pump is available as an option on the Born, and is a useful extra if you drive a lot in cold weather. A heat pump is a more efficient way of heating the interior in winter months rather than having to rely on just the car’s heater alone, which saps battery power, and potentially decreases overall driving range.

Charging speed is as important as overall range, because any time benefit earned from travelling a good distance on a single charge could be immediately lost if you have to wait ages to replenish the battery before moving on again. Fortunately, the Born is up to the task; the 58kWh model has a maximum charging speed of 125kW, which means a 10-80 per cent top-up from a rapid chargepoint will take around 30 minutes. A Born fitted with the 77kWh battery will max out at peak charging speed of 175kW, so despite the bigger battery, charging from 10-80 per cent takes a similar 30 minutes.

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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.

Insurance groups

The entry-level V1 Born model sits in insurance group 27, while the most expensive V3 version with the largest 77kWh battery pack is in group 28.

That’s on par with the MG4, but is a little higher than both the ID.3 and Megane E-Tech, which start in groups 24 and 25, respectively.

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Depreciation

The Born’s decent residual values will reassure buyers. Over a typical three-year/36,000-mile ownership period, the all-electric hatchback is predicted to hold on to around 48 per cent of its original value. This stacks up well against the similar figures of the Megane E-Tech, but is a little behind the Kia Niro EV, which in 3 trim holds on to nearly 54 per cent of its value over the same period.

To get an accurate valuation on a specific model check out our valuation tool...

Interior, design and technology

Sporty looks and strong standard equipment levels, but the Born’s interior quality could be better

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. 

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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 £35k starting price.

​Some of the ID.3’s fiddly switchgear has been utilised for the Born. 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.

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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

Useful boot space, decent comfort and practical standard kit help to widen the appeal of the Cupra Born

​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. Bight LED headlights are provided as standard, but it is a shame that, unlike on the VW ID.3, you cannot specify matrix LED headlights that alter the beam pattern at night to illuminate the road ahead better at night without blinding oncoming vehicles.

The level of standard equipment is generous, featuring automatic wipers, adaptive cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, and a rear-view camera are all 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.

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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.

​Size

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 on the outer positions of the rear bench make fitting a child seat easy.

Boot

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. 

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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 optional. It’s part of the Cargo Pack and bundled in with a three-pin charging cable, but still, it seems a little mean if you’re buying a top-of-the-range Born worth over £40k.

Reliability and Safety

Cupra includes excellent safety equipment for the Born, while the Euro NCAP safety rating is strong

​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.

Warranty

The Born comes with a five-year/90,000-mile warranty as standard, which is longer than the length of coverage you get with an ID.3. It’s still a few years and 10,000 miles short of the seven-year/100,000-mile warranty provided by Kia, though. 

Meanwhile, the lithium-ion battery in the Born is covered for up to eight years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first.

Servicing

The Cupra Born follows the same two-year service schedule as the ID.3, irrespective of the mileage covered. That should be appealing to those who cover big mileages, but we’d suggest that you regularly check consumables such as tyres and wiper blades to make sure you remain road legal, rather than just waiting for the technician at the workshop to tell you as part of the service.

Cupra offers its e-Care servicing plans for the electric hatchback covering either two, three or four-year periods.

Frequently Asked Questions
The Cupra Born is a well-equipped and efficient electric car that’s also good to drive, making it a fine choice for those thinking of switching to electric.
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News reporter

As our news reporter, Ellis is responsible for covering everything new and exciting in the motoring world, from quirky quadricycles to luxury MPVs. He was previously the content editor for DrivingElectric and won the Newspress Automotive Journalist Rising Star award in 2022.

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