Sharing a platform with the Volkswagen ID.3, the Cupra Born is the first EV from Seat’s sporty spin-off brand.
First, let’s deal with the elephant in the room. Yes, the Born and ID.3 are very similar. However, park the pair alongside each other, and we think the Born has the edge.
Naturally, they also share the same VW Golf-like dimensions, and they are almost identical in profile.
The ID.3 is distinctive and futuristic, but the Born has a lower, more athletic stance, with an aggressive front end featuring an inwardly sloping bonnet and large honeycomb vent below. The rear gets an accentuated diffuser, spoiler and taillight design, while Cupra’s trademark copper-coloured design flourishes adorn the car throughout.
It’s much the same story inside where there’s a cooler feel to the Cupra’s cabin. They may both have a clutter-free dashboard, digital driver’s cluster with side-mounted drive-mode selector, 12.0-inch infotainment screen and touch-sensitive controls, but the Cupra gets a darker look and a flat-bottomed sports steering wheel.
There are more copper accents and stitching throughout the interior, such as the air vents, door handles, centre console and sports seats. Oh, and the driving position is excellent, especially if you prefer to sit lower in the cabin – a rarity in an EV.
Taking its name from the El Born district of Barcelona, the Cupra Born range starts at £36,474 and at launch there was a choice of three batteries (45kWh, 58kWh and 77kWh) which power a single electric motor that drives the rear wheels.
That said, only the two more powerful versions are currently marketed. The 58kWh is available with either 201bhp or 228bhp (there’s also a 228bhp with e-Boost), while the 77kWh only comes with e-Boost. Depending on which battery size chosen, official range is between 260-340 miles.
The Born can be charged overnight via a home wallbox, but if you can hook it up to a 120kW rapid connection, 5-80% will take just 35 minutes.
There are three levels of trim (V1, V2 and V3) and we tested the 58kWh Cupra Born V2 with with e-Boost, which temporarily increases power to 228bhp via a push of a button on the steering wheel.
On paper, our test car had a range of up to 260 miles (closer to 220 miles in real world driving) with 0-62mph acceleration of 6.6 seconds (compared to the regular version’s 7.3 seconds).
The Born may have the looks of an EV hot hatch, but the reality is that it’s a little sharper than the sensible ID.3, but there’s no hiding its 1.8-tonne weight.
Yes, it’s fast off the line and fun to drive, but it can become unsettled if you hustle it in more challenging corners. What’s more, the suspension set-up is on the stiff side, so it’s worth test driving the Born on rougher roads too.
That said, the steering is quick and responsive, there’s plenty of traction when launching, grip in corners is good, and the sports seats are suitably supportive.
You can switch between various drive modes (Range, Comfort, Individual and Cupra) which change the response of the accelerator pedal and you can alter the amount of regenerative braking.
Ultimately, the Cupra Born is no hot hatch in the traditional internal combustion engine sense, so there’s still space in the market for an electric hatchback with the dynamism of a well sorted Golf R, Focus ST or Civic Type R.
So, Cupra’s done a great job giving the sporty-looking Born a character all of its own with some eye-catching design features.
So far so good, but – and it’s a big ‘but’. Cockpit minimalism is all very well, but channelling so much functionality through a centre touchscreen will be too much for some. Add touch-sensitive sliders (on the steering wheel) too, and it’s seriously frustrating.
In other words, pretty much everything from the heating to the navigation and radio are accessed via the 12.0-inch touchscreen and there are no physical short-cut buttons.
On a cold day you have to wait for the infotainment system to kick in, then fiddle around with sliders and menus. If you want to adjust the radio volume urgently, you have to mess about with the unresponsive touch-sensitive slider on the steering wheel. The same slider that you can sometimes accidentally touch with your hand when you’re turning the wheel.
The above is a shame because there’s so much going for it. For instance, we haven’t even mentioned maximum five-star Euro NCAP safety rating, the generous equipment levels or the decent 385-litre boot space (expanding to 1,267 litres with the rear seats flipped down).