Electric newcomer a BORN winner

Cupra BORN

By Bill McCarthy

CUPRA is making a big impact despite only being a separate brand for a short time.

Since its launch as an independent spin-off from SEAT in 2018, sales have shot up and CUPRA closed 2019 with a growth of 72 per cent over the previous year with nearly 25,000 units sold.

Certainly, in terms of attracting attention from potential electric car owners, the firm’s first fully electric model, the BORN, provoked much interest.

A five-door hatchback, the firm says that ‘exterior design delivers a strong sporty character, expressing agility and performance with a mix of flowing surfaces and technical details’. 

That may be the case, but its hard not to spot the similarities with VW stablemate the ID.3.

Given that it is based on the Volkswagen Group’s MEB architecture, that should be no surprise.

But it is very much a standout model in its own right, particularly retaining the sporty edge that parent firm SEAT is famous for.

It comes with three trim levels V1, V2 and the range-topping V3 driven here. All are well equipped and feature cutting-edge technology.

It’s stylish and the front features full LED headlights, flanking a slim distinctive grille.

Dominant is the copper-coloured CUPRA badge and copper trim features prominently while sporty features include tinted rear windows and eye-catching aerodynamic alloy wheels.

To the rear, the CUPRA badge is again dominant where you might expect to see the word BORN and sits below a full-width light bar that wraps around the rear wings.

Another neat touch are the puddle lamps which display the CUPRA logo on the floor in front of you.

It looks the part as does the interior, which is designed to be environmentally friendly using recycled materials.

Like many electric cars, it seems to be designed with a ‘less is more’ philosophy, with a standard floating 12-inch infotainment touchscreen controlling most functions and an absence of buttons and switches.

The touchscreen hosts a high-end infotainment system, access to online services, downloadable apps, safety and service features, as well as remote access and smartphone connectivity.

The new “CUPRA CONNECT” smartphone application can also control functions away from the car.

A small digital display also shows the speed, range and sat-nav instructions.

While the absence of switch clutter might be good. 

The interior is upholstered in a range of recycled materials that deliver a premium, quality feel, including the standard bucket seats, which are powered and offer a massage function on this model, while the copper accents and stitching abound adding to the high end feel.

Drive selection is via rotating knob on the dashboard, which means space between the two front occupants is maximised for storage purposes.

I found using the touchscreen and steering wheel controls frustrating. The haptic touch is very sensitive and distracting when driving. However, these can be mastered over time.

A small 5.3-inch digital display offers further information while the Augmented Reality Head-Up Display gives driver information on what’s ahead on the road.

There are four battery variants with capacities of 45, 58 and 77kWh.

Rear wheel drive, performance is, well, electric. In typical electric car style, acceleration is quick, with this model, featuring the 58kWh battery hitting 62mph in 7.5 seconds.

It is quick and the handling is also excellent thanks to the battery being placed in the centre of the car for greater stability, while the Dynamic Chassis Control ensures a smooth ride on even the worst surface.

This model boasts a range of 261 miles, but the best I got was nearer 225, which is good enough to diminish any range anxiety

This model can be charged on a 120kW charger, from 5-80% in around 26 minutes. 

Factfile

CUPRA Born 58kWh V3

Price: £38,390

Mechanical: 204PS, 58kWh battery and automatic transmission driving the rear wheels.

Max Speed: 99mph

0-62mph: 7.5 seconds

Range: 265 miles (WMTL)

Insurance Group: 25

C02 emissions: 0g/km

Bik rating: 2%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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