2022 Cupra Born Review

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We check out the sporty new Cupra Born electric hatch ahead of its Australian arrival.

In good news for Australian buyers who won’t be seeing the likes of the VW ID 3 for some time, Cupra has confirmed it will bring the Born to Australia by 2023, even by late 2022 if there are no auto industry-delay-related curve balls thrown as we’ve seen in the last two years. Well ahead of time we’ve driven one of the very first examples in Europe, and it is looking like this might be a compelling choice for those who want some sporty flair.

Parked up, the Cupra Born’s sculpted bonnet, sharp LED lights and 20-inch alloys combine to give it a sporty look. Underneath, it uses the VW Group’s MEB platform, so as with the ID 3, the Born features a 58kWh battery supplying a rear-mounted motor that serves up 150kW and 310Nm of torque.

Cupra claims a range of 423km for the car we’re testing here, although a less powerful 45kWh model with 110kW will feature too, offering 350km of range.

While no specifications have been confirmed for Australia officially, the local Cupra website lists the model we’re driving with a 150kW/310Nm powertrain, and thus a 420km-odd driving range.

Our car’s instant torque delivery is enough for a 0-100km/h sprint of 7.3 seconds, and despite the fairly hefty kerbweight, performance is sufficient. Traction is good, too, while even the braking feel, which can sometimes be a sticking point with EVs because of how they use regenerative braking to charge the battery, doesn’t detract from the experience.

The Born delivers dynamic handling and even a decent sense of fun; it feels like a great deal of fine tuning has gone into the suspension’s development and set-up, with the Born absorbing bumps and knocks surprisingly well given the size of its wheels. It makes for a fairly comfortable ride, while the sharp, relatively responsive steering gives the Cupra an edge of engagement without feeling nervous.

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In Cupra mode in particular, there’s an extra heft to the steering set-up’s weight, which doesn’t add any more feel or increase the front end’s response at all, but it makes the Born feel solid, like some of Cupra’s sportier combustion-engined products.

At 4322mm long the Born is 61mm longer than the VW ID 3, but despite this, legroom is still on the more limited side. The Born is 31mm lower than its sibling too, which means taller passengers will likely feel a little cramped in the rear, not helped by the higher-set rear bench seat. Still, at least this helps give a good view out. It’s comfortable in the front, with sports seats that hold you well, although the integral headrests do protrude a bit.

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At least overall practicality is given a boost by the 385-litre boot, which is a good shape, and this model’s 100kW DC rapid-charge capability, which will top-up the battery from five to 80 per cent in 35 minutes. A full charge using an 11kW AC feed will take six hours and 15 minutes.

First impressions point towards the Cupra Born being higher quality inside than the ID 3 in the areas that matter, but it’s clear the Born has still been built to a price, because there is room for improvement.

The Cupra’s infotainment is better than we’ve seen in VW’s MEB cars so far though. It seems pleasingly well thought out, with a relatively intuitive voice control system. But this makes the touch-sensitive operation and the sliders on the dash and steering wheel even more frustrating as a method of operation. At least the graphics are sharp and bright, including on the small digital driver’s display, which shows everything you really need.

With an estimated starting price of around the equivalent of $60,000 Australian, even if this bigger battery model might cost a little more, it seems Cupra has carved out space in the market for the Born fairly effectively.

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The Cupra Born stands out thanks to its successful, eye-catching design, and the driving experience is also subtly different from that of its ID 3 sibling. It sets out the company’s first EV as a genuine Cupra with a sporty edge. It’s a more emotional alternative to the VW ID 3, and while you pay a premium for this, as electrification takes over it’s nice to know there are options that offer something different from each other. The Cupra Born is a convincing EV and one to look forward to.

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