It’s been five years since Cupra was deemed mature and worldly enough to go it alone without parent company, Seat and not long after that we got their first standalone model (without a Seat version) – the coupe SUV Formentor. That was by no means a standalone event, though, there’s far more to come from the brand, starting with this; the all-electric Cupra Born – named after a very bohemian area of Barcelona, in case you were wondering.
Electric with attitude
First off, how it looks. There are many electric cars on the market now and it’s fair to say that the majority of them don’t score highly in the attitude stakes. I blame the lack of a front grille but I can’t help but feel it’s not been accidental, a case of making the environmentally friendly car all sweetness and light. Well the Cupra Born doesn’t subscribe to that particular concept. It’s based on VW’s ID.3 and if you have a proper inspection you’ll notice near-identical A and C-pillars, after that Cupra have been given licence to make the Born as mean and scowly as they like, and they’ve picked it up and ran with it.
As with other Cupras, the Born range is kept fairly simple and it revolves around the letter V. There’s three specs, imaginatively titled V1, V2 & – guess what? – V3. V1 is the cheapest Born and it starts at £36,475. It’s available with one battery and motor option – 58kWh and a motor which provides 202bhp, getting the Born from 0-62mph in 7.3 with a max range of 264 miles.
What powers the Born?
V2 & V3 Borns are also available with this battery and motor combinations but they’re also available with a 226bhp motor with electricity coming from either the same 58kWh battery or a 77kWh one. The more powerful Borns wear the e-Boost moniker and the 58kWh versions will get from 0-62mph in 6.6 seconds with a 262 mile range whilst the 77kWh battery loses performance thanks to the heavier battery with 0-62mph taking 7.0s but they do manage a far more respectable range of 342 miles. What’s definitely worth a mention is, just like the ID.3 it’s based on, all Borns can charge rapidly and all are RWD.
Is it really an electric hot-hatch?
And it’s partly because of this why Cupra were keen on the Born being known as a ‘proper’ electric hot-hatch. You see, it’s easy to make electric cars go quickly in a straight line, even the most mundane models could easily see off a hot-hatch from the ’90s, but it’s adding some extra feel that isn’t quite as straight forward. The Born undoubtedly achieves this more successfully than most that have come before. Ironically, the hot-hatch recipe involves FWD most of the time and the Born is RWD, but that doesn’t detract from how much driver satisfaction it can provide. Giving the front wheels the sole job of controlling direction and then ensuring there’s some real feedback through the steering wheel adds a sense of driving, rather than being driven, and that’s what sets the Born apart.
Being RWD also makes the Born very easy to live with around town as the turning circle is absolutely tiny. The quoted range is genuinely accurate and even in max-range mode, performance isn’t stifled to the point of boredom. On the motorway the Born is eerily quiet thanks to that raked windscreen and even the door mirrors make an almost unnoticeable amount of wind-noise.
Something special inside
Inside the Born it’s not hard to see that it’s based on the ID.3, but Seat, I mean Cupra have done a good job of adding individuality to make sure you know the difference. It’s all very minimalist and the same marmite central infotainment system sits atop the dashboard and those fiddly buttons on the steering wheel you nudge every time you turn a corner are still there, but everywhere else there’s splashes of Cupra that sets the Born apart.
That’s mostly demonstrated by flashes of copper trim liberally applied throughout the cabin – a feature we’ve become accustomed to with Cupra, but there’s some real attention to detail with patterned materials and soft-touch plastics that you just don’t get in the VW. The seats in the Born are worthy of special mention, too. Even base models get sporty bucket seats for extra grip and they’re made out of dolphin-friendly recycled material called Seaqual. Go higher up the range and the seats are heated, massage affairs, also recycled but now made out of something called Dinamica. To sit on they feel a bit like the velour Ford used for their Recaro seats in the 90s, but one thing’s for sure, they’re extremely comfortable.
Should I buy a Cupra Born?
The cheapest Born does cost less than the cheapest ID.3 but for comparable specs, the Born is just slightly more expensive. It’s more fun to drive, though, and it just feels more special, and that’s worth a few more quid.
By Ben Harrington
The Cupra Born is available now, priced from £36,475. For full details go to: www.cupraofficial.co.uk