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In-depth reviews

Cupra Tavascan review

Beneath the quirky design of the Cupra Tavascan are impressive ride comfort, handling and cabin quality that make it the most convincing Cupra yet

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

  • Ride quality
  • Refinement
  • Distinctive interior and design
  • Not exactly engaging to drive
  • Lingering ergonomic quirks
  • Poised to be expensive
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Quick verdict

The Cupra Tavascan is a welcome improvement to the all-electric SUV formula we’ve already seen used elsewhere in the VW Group, sprinkled with Cupra’s distinctive style. The Tavascan is spacious, rides well, offers good refinement and is full of interesting details that make it feel unique to the Spanish brand. At last, Cupra has been able to properly spread its wings.

Key specs 
Fuel typeElectric
Body styleCoupe/Crossover
Powertrain2x e-motors, 77kWh battery

Cupra Tavascan: price, specs and rivals

You’re looking at the real beginning of Cupra as a brand. Yes, the Leon, Formentor and even the Born represented the start of something interesting from VW’s sporty spin-off in their own way, but the all-new Tavascan is different. It’s more completely Cupra, different from models you’ll find elsewhere in the group.

In essence, this high-riding coupe-SUV creation doesn’t really enter an existing market segment. Instead it’s designed to offer a different form, sitting lower than the Volkswagen ID.5 or Skoda Enyaq Coupe but not relinquishing the high-riding SUV stance. 

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The Tavascan will be available with two powertrain options, it’s the higher-specification dual-motor 335bhp VZ model we’re driving here, but a single-motor 286bhp version will be launched alongside when the car hits the UK in the last quarter of 2024. In both cases, the Tavascan runs on nearly the latest version of the VW Group MEB platform, featuring a 77kWh battery pack and updated motors, but misses out on VW’s new 79kWh battery unit and the benefits that come along with it. 

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Cupra has yet to confirm UK prices for the Tavascan, but we expect them to start at around £55,000 for the top-spec VZ, with that number then easing down as lower specification models are rolled out over the coming years. This is competitive compared to in-house rivals like the VW ID.5 or Skoda Enyaq Coupe, also allowing the Tavascan to target high-spec versions of the Kia EV6, Hyundai Ioniq 5, Tesla Model Y and Ford Mustang Mach-e

If you’re less interested in the SUV look and additional ride height then cars like the Tesla Model 3, BMW i4, Polestar 2 or BYD Seal could also be considered as potential alternatives.

Electric motor, drive and performance

The electric powertrain is responsive and refined, but lacks the outright punch of some rival cars
ModelPower0-62mphTop speed
Cupra Tavascan VZ335bhp5.5112mph

Out on the road, the MEB platform’s good points are on full display, which is to say the motors are very refined and come with excellent response and clarity through the throttle pedal. Regenerative braking is controlled via paddles behind the steering wheel, and the system engages smoothly regardless of the chosen driver mode. 

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At low speeds, the Tavascan’s turn of speed is very impressive, with that initial burst of torque making the car feel more potent than its 335bhp suggests. However, once up and running the level of acceleration isn’t quite so thrilling, best described as adequate rather than rapid. This isn’t unusual in the mid-size electric SUV class, but the Tavascan simply wouldn’t be able to hold onto the back of a twin-motor Tesla Model Y, which isn’t that much more expensive. 

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It is, however, the Cupra Tavascan’s ride and handling which really help it stand out. Most of the dynamic elements are vastly improved compared to Cupra’s other models, such as the steering which has been sharpened up with a faster ratio and heavier weighting. These improvements are made particularly welcome by the progress that’s been achieved in the chassis department. 

The car’s ride quality is a big improvement on previous MEB-based SUV models, even on the large 21-inch wheels of our test cars. There’s more travel in the springs and therefore more control when driving over larger undulations. Smaller, harsher bumps can be felt, but they don’t thud through the cabin to the extent that they do in a Cupra Born with the larger wheel option. This makes the Tavascan an excellent cruiser. 

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Switch through the drive modes to the Performance or Cupra settings, and there’s a marked change to the car’s demeanour as the ride tightens up significantly. Whether this actually improves body control is a more difficult question, but inherently the dynamics feel well resolved and engaging without the ride feeling overly firm or brittle. 

One area where there’s still work to be done is the brakes. The consistency of pedal feel is fine, but the weighting seems somewhat mushy and the blending of regenerative and friction braking still a little off. The setup does little to inspire confidence when punting down a fast road, but potentially of more relevance is that it’s hard to judge a fast and efficient stop in day-to-day driving.

MPG & running costs

The Tavascan’s 77kWh battery allows for decent range, but charging speeds still have room to improve
ModelBattery sizeRangeInsurance group
Cupra Tavascan VZ77kWh323 milesN/A

All Cupra Tavascan models have the same 77kWh battery pack. There’s then the choice of single-motor or dual-motor 4x4 variants. Peak charging speeds are rated at a relatively low 135kW on DC fast charging, but it will still top up the battery from 10 to 80 per cent in around 30 minutes, which is competitive.

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The dual motor VZ is rated at around 323 miles on a full charge, with this range increasing to just over 350 miles for the single-motor variant.

Design, interior & technology

The Tavascan’s looks are distinctive to some and weird to others but the cabin is a huge step forward for Cupra

The complex, interesting design is even more prevalent inside the cabin, which is a total departure from other models in the lineup. Under the layered, curvy dashboard sits a central element that separates the driver and passenger, but it does get a little in the way of the charging pad and other storage areas behind.

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Quality is good, with surfaces wrapped in a mixture of modern synthetic materials that vary from wetsuit-like neoprene to suede. There’s a lot going on, but much like the exterior, it’s a welcome progression from the more regimented designs coming out of Volkswagen and Skoda at the moment. 

Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment

The tech package inside the Tavascan is based on VW’s latest generation user interface, with a 15-inch central display skewed towards the driver. The embedded software is relatively easy to navigate with some acclimatisation time, and is fast to react to inputs. 

There are some nooks and crannies within the system that you can get a little lost in, such as the process for changing the interior lighting scheme, but the main controls are easy to access. You do need to confront the haptic sliders and steering wheel switchgear for some controls and these still irritate, just as the do in other VW products. 

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Back to the interior lighting, and this is fairly spectacular inside thanks to the ambient lighting structure within the air vents, the communication light under the windscreen and the added lighting integrated into the door cards. 

Boot space, comfort & practicality

Surprisingly large inside on account of impressive packaging
Number of seats5
Boot space540l

Space inside is generous, with plenty of leg and headroom in the second row, despite the sloping glass roof. The combination of a flat floor and wide cabin make squeezing three across the back row painless. The boot is 540-litres, and has a completely flat floor with a large, wide opening. 

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There’s some extra storage under the boot floor for your charging cables, but there’s no front boot under the short bonnet, which is a shame. The second row seats fold almost flat, but thanks to that slope of the tailgate, larger boxy items like furniture are less easily squeezed in. 

Safety & reliability

It’s yet to be Euro NCAP rated but full marks are expected for the Cupra Tavascan
Key standard safety featuresEuro NCAP ratings
Lane-keeping assist

Blind spot monitoring

autonomous emergency braking


Cupra is expected to get a full five-star safety rating for the Tavascan, given that it’s a brand new model built around the latest Euro NCAP regulations. The ‘always on’ functions like lane-keeping assist and traffic sign assist are typically intrusive, but they can be easily switched off via the touchscreen. Other active safety elements include active cruise control with lane-keeping assist, blind spot monitoring and autonomous emergency braking, to name just a few. 

As the car is brand new, we don’t have any data on reliability, but other MEB products have a good record according to our data. 

Should you buy a Cupra Tavascan?

The Cupra Tavascan won’t appeal to everyone, but if the styling does work for you there’s no reason not to be won over. This feels like a good step forward for the Cupra brand in terms of tech, engineering and design – the only caveat being the talented rivals that are also available at a similar price point.

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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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