What is it?
Here we have CUPRA’s first all-electric car the CUPRA Born. We are driving the V3 in Nevada White. It is powered by what the spec sheet calls a “Permanent magnet synchronous electric motor”. In terms of power, this model has 58kWh 150kW/204PS. That sees it doing 0-62MPH in 7.3 seconds with a top speed of 99mph. Battery charge time at AC 11kw 0-100% is 6 hours 15 mins, DC 135KW 5-80% takes 35 minutes, the range is quoted as 250 miles.
This model as specified (full spec at the end of the review) costs £38,995 which includes £565 for the metallic paint. It comes with 20″ ‘Hurricane’ machined aero wheels with 215/45 R20 tyres and that is the only choice on this model. Some of the other versions allow more wheel choices.
We already had a first drive video review, this review is based on a week’s real-world use of the car. What do we think? Let’s find out.
A great first all electric model from CUPRA. Good looking, good performance, range is good enough, pricing is in line with the market but is still a lot of money. The touch controls really let the car down and there some odd decisions like a small half size glove box, featuring a back massager instead of electric seat memory controls. Not complete show stoppers, just mildly annoying. We can recommend the CUPRA Born as a warm hatch all electric purchase.
What we liked
- Good looking
- Good performance
- Comfortable seats
- Good visibility
What we didn’t like
- Steering wheel touch controls are awful
- No drive mode button (under options in touch screen)
- Mirror controls are a faff
The CUPRA Born is based on the VW ID3 and in my opinion, is better looking, especially at the front. Starting with the large copper CUPRA logo glued onto the bonnet. Below the badge there is a very narrow strip (knight rider style) with the lettering CUPRA also in Copper, shame it doesn’t light up, that would be cool (but against regulations). At the end, this strip expands to the narrowest lights we’ve seen on a CUPRA car yet. The bonnet is quite short and overhangs slightly before the wide opening lower grille which has a wide u-shaped copper coloured plastic trim cutting across the bottom opening up at either side and pointing to the edges of the car.
It certainly creates a striking profile from the front.
The side profile is my favorite though, the lower thick side skirt standing out the most and adding some excitement to the side profile slowly rising upwards to the rear with a large arched bit adding more interest to what VW did with the side skirt on the ID3.
At either end of this car are 20” wheels with 215/45 R20 tyres. I think the wheels have marmite styling. I’m still not a huge fan of this look with added plastic, but they have grown on me a bit, they aren’t awful, but I do admit they do suit the car. There are better-looking wheel options available if you choose a different version of the car, however.
There is a single crease line that runs from the front to the top of the wheel arch, cutting through both door handles and meeting the top of the rear light which sticks out itself.
Above this, the roofline slopes down to a large overhanging spoiler and at the end of the rear window a textured black plastic feature wraps into the rear window fins.
The rear of the car features a light strip that goes across the whole of the rear below which you find the CUPRA badge which also doubles as the boot release.
Below the badge, large CUPRA lettering in copper sits just above the boot opening.
Below this, a wide dark grey plastic design houses the number plate before being met at the bottom by a body-coloured four-fin “diffuser”.
There are no attempts to show any fake exhausts, which is quite refreshing. CUPRA presumably is proud of its all-electric future.
Visually the Born has a striking presence and certainly turned a few heads when I was test driving. For many, I can see it blending in alongside the ID3 upon which it is based, however, especially from the side.
It is available in a range of colours: Vapor Grey (no cost), Glacial White (£565), Geyser Silver (£565), Quasar Grey (£565), Rayleigh Red (£565), and Aurora Blue (£840). Personally, if I was buying one I think I’d go for the silver or the red.
Overall I think it is a good-looking car and quite different from anything we’ve seen from CUPRA or SEAT for that matter up to this point.
Upon opening the driver’s door you are greeted by light grey buckets seats (Granite Grey Dinamica bucket seats) and a reasonably roomy cabin. Bucket seats are standard on all the Born models.
The seats are comfortable, not overly hugging, but I did find them quite soft, a bit “bouncy” when on the road. Comfortable, but not something I’d expect from a CUPRA car. They could have been just a touch firmer.
Both seats on this model are electrically adjustable but without a memory option which seems a bit short-sighted. They do have an odd back massage function that I turned on by accident not knowing it was there and for a moment wondered what the hell was going on. It was an unusual sensation and not something I could see myself using.
I’d have preferred they spent the cash on memory functions for the seats. At least both are electrically adjustable though, not just the driver’s which can often be the case.
Facing the steering wheel I was very disappointed to see CUPRA have finally given in to the touch controls on the steering wheel trend, and there’s no getting around it, they are bloody awful, and don’t get me started on the mirror control on the door panel. Unresponsive, laggy, and unnecessarily trying to be too clever. Same with the window controls. You have to press a button to change between controlling the front and rear windows instead of just having four switches like we are used to.
I do wonder how many people drive these cars in testing and actually think “yeah these touch controls are so much better than what we used to have, our customers will love them”.
In the first drive video review, Mark and I did of the car, my first impression was that the steering wheel had shrunk from other CUPRA models, after driving it for a week now, I’m not so sure. I think I was just imagining it. I should have measured it before the car went back.
The wheel itself is comfortable and a familiar shape with the flat bottom and grips at the top. Copper stitching runs around the interior and the CUPRA badge sits square in the middle.
The dashboard display is a small unit that sticks up above the steering wheel. Thankfully as with other CUPRA and SEAT cars, it can be seen clearly through the steering wheel. The display is smaller than normal as CUPRA have included their first HUD (Heads up display) on a car and it works well. It is clear and gives helpful things like the current speed and shows the sat nav directions even pulling them in from Android Auto.
To the right of this is the drive selector where you select Drive / Drive (with regenerative braking on full), Reverse, Neutral. You push in a button to put the car into stationary mode (P) and apply the brake. This stick however is obscured by the steering wheel so you have to switch modes by feel when driving, although it does display the mode on the screen.
The two pedals are alloy and you have the usual footrest for your redundant clutch foot. Sadly not in aluminum, because SEAT and CUPRA have never bothered to make these for their right-hand drive models.
The centre console features the now familiar infotainment screen. It’s ok, but having the drive mode (CUPRA, Sport, etc) buried in the menus is driver hostile, even more so it doesn’t remember the mode you were in last time you drove it, so it always defaults to ECO Mode. I get it, it’s an electric car and I think I read it has to do that due to emissions regulations, but still, it’s annoying.
I’ve complained multiple times about the touch controls for the heating and climate, they are still the same and still not backlit.
Below the infotainment screen are the air vents and the hazard light button, below that you get a large sliding compartment with storage and two cup holders with springy grippy things (yes I’m sure that’s the official name for them).
You then come to the phone tray that slopes up. I could not get it to charge my phone with contactless charging. I realised afterwards that it wasn’t standard and is an option across the range. It should be standard, by now, come on CUPRA. It has to be specced as part of one of two the wider technology packs £515 or £740.
Under the armrest there is storage which also has a USB port for charging your phone if you don’t have wireless charging. I couldn’t get this to work, but I suspect dodgy cables being provided with the car, the SEAT branded ones that came with my wife’s Ateca lasted about 3 days. I didn’t try my usual cable not needing to charge my phone when on the move but I’m sure it would have been fine.
The glove box is a bit odd and strangely cut in half, I’m not sure why.
The door arms are comfortable and a good size, they don’t have a soft lining in them as Skoda does with some of their cars. This is something I wish CUPRA would include as a standard feature.
Moving to the rear, Mark noticed in our first-drive review that CUPRA skimped on the rear door cards losing the microfibre feel material featured on the front doors.
The rear seat is comfortable and there is plenty of legroom, however, putting your feet under the seats in front is difficult as you’ve only got an inch or two due to the raised floor presumably due to the batteries.
You get the usual central armrest and a fold-down ski hatch for accessing the boot.
The headroom was fine for me (5ft 10”).
Visibility from the rear isn’t too bad but you do have the bucket seats in the front so it is affected by those as you would expect.
Visibility when driving is really good and I had no complaints at all about that.
When you get out of the car it plays an annoying “swoosh-bong” sound, which took me a while to realise it’s to let you know the car is ok to be left safely – handbrake is on etc. You can turn the volume down thankfully, possibly off completely but I didn’t try that. It seems to respond to you vacating the seat and opening the door.
On the road
Having very little experience of driving electric cars it took me a while to get used to just putting it into drive and driving off, with no ignition, no start button, and no sound.
There is no fake sound pumped into the cabin at all which was a surprise as I expected that would be the case.
The car pulls away well and will little effort.
The car is rear-wheel drive and I can’t say I noticed a huge difference between driving a front-wheel drive car, but then I was not driving the car anywhere near its limits.
Acceleration is rapid enough, not hot hatch territory, but plenty for getting up to speed on a motorway slip-road or overtaking. The mid-range is where it is most comfortable and the power is consistent, with no gears to worry about I got used to it quite quickly.
Pulling away from a standstill like a junction is swiftly dealt with and there is no hesitation or faffing with gears to worry about.
At motorway speeds, the car is a good cruiser, and back to those bouncy seats and the dampening of the car it felt the least like a sporty car, and more of a family car. Personally, I would have preferred the ride to be a bit firmer, but that’s just what I’m used to.
I didn’t notice any real wind noise at speed and the overall driving experience was very comfortable.
When cornering it felt competent and inspired plenty of confidence and will be fine for all but the most enthusiastic driver I’m sure. Certainly for normal legal driving on the road anyway. How it would fare on a track? That’s not something I was able to try out sadly.
When driving you have the option of normal drive mode or the regenerative braking mode which brakes the car when you take your foot off the accelerator. I found I preferred this mode and found it quite entertaining trying to save as much power as possible and slowing the car without using the brake if I could avoid it. The car will still crawl when at the lowest speed sadly and not come to a complete stop.
The stated range of the car is 250 miles I managed to get less than that, whilst I didn’t measure it exactly it was around 200 miles, but then my driving was pretty inconsistent testing out the acceleration, etc so it’s not a real-world example. I think to reach the claimed range you’d have to drive Miss Daisy.
Charging was easy enough at my local Tesco on their free charger (the local Shell rapid charger was out of action). This was after I had a good 10 minutes scratching my head and having to message Mark (M0rk) (who owns an ID3 and a Tesla) how on earth to disconnect the charger from the car. I was pulling it and it would not budge. I checked the infotainment and told it to stop charging. Still no joy. In the end, I had to lock and unlock the car again for it to let me disconnect it. If all else fails, turn it off and on again.
The Born is certainly no hot hatch, but to be fair I don’t think CUPRA has ever promised it would be. I wish it had been though. CUPRA could have made it a bit firmer, given it more power, but then I think it would have lost some of the wider appeal they will be going for. The boost model is coming soon that will give more power for a brief period so I look forward to driving that one, other than that the rest will remain the same.
Would I buy one? Yes if I had the money I would (but the boost version). It was my first experience living with an all-electric car for a week and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Sat in the car with the air-con on and not worrying about polluting the environment was a good feeling and despite the current high electricity costs, I can certainly see the appeal.
Things CUPRA could fix as I’ve said are the awful touch controls. Hopefully, if we keep complaining enough we’ll convince car manufacturers to bring back some real buttons.
How cool would it be if CUPRA bring out a 350-400HP+ version in the future?
So what do you think? is this your next car? What do you like, what don’t you like? hit the comments below.