Stunning styling, great interior, strong performance
New Car Review: CUPRA Born
Good Stuff 👍
Bad Stuff 👎
Availability might be challenging initially
What is the CUPRA Born?
A stylish new EV
The CUPRA Born is the first fully electric offering from the SEAT brand. And while this was supposed to be a SEAT (The SEAT El Born), a decision to move all fully electric offerings to the newly fledged CUPRA brand has proven to be a clever move as this is very much a brand that has, pretty much out of nowhere managed to become desirable. That is in part, thanks to its bold and unrestrained styling, which in the case of this model takes the bare bones of the Volkswagen ID.3 EV, a ‘nice’ but not altogether striking model, and transforms it into a bold and brash car that turns heads wherever you go. It has been quite a while since we got such a reaction from a car, in part because people are still a little unsure of what a CUPRA is. And if that includes you, CUPRA were the performance arm of SEAT. You used to get a Leon CUPRA, then an Ibiza and then eventually an Ateca CUPRA before the decision was made to make an entire brand out of CUPRA. This raised many an eyebrow in the motoring world because you only have to look at other brand’s attempts to create sub-brands in the past, to see that it can go horribly wrong (we are looking at you, Ford Vignale) but so far, the CUPRA story has been a huge success, with many commentators predicting that this new brand might eventually signal the end of SEAT as a carmaker, instead allowing that brand to become more of a mobility solution brand; think eScooters and small EV scooters. So, for Ireland, the CUPRA Born is their first standalone EV offering (there will be more) and it is offered in two power outputs, a 204hp version with a 58kWh battery and a 231hp version with either a 58kWh battery or a 77 kWh battery (an entry-level 45kWh / 150hp version is coming later). Pricing starts at €36,360, with the smaller battery version likely to cost around €30,000.
How about the looks of the CUPRA Born?
Bold and brave design
Well, wow. For us, this is one of the best-looking mainstream EVs on sale in Ireland, and when we say mainstream, we mean ‘in and around €40,000’ – because obviously cars like the Audi RS e-tron GT are stunning, but cost the same as a small house in the midlands. The CUPRA brand appears to have been given a level of freedom to express themselves to a degree we haven’t seen from the Volkswagen Group before. While Volkswagen brand cars tend to have to stick to a pretty safe formula, because their home market of Germany quite likes them that way, CUPRA has been able to let off the shackles and it shows. This Born takes the basic design of the Volkswagen ID.3 and has let Jorge Diaz’s team go wild. There are full LED headlights and a very shark nose design and below this sits the large air intake with a copper frame (there are copper elements throughout the cabin too). There are a host of 3D shapes on the bonnet and a large copper CUPRA badge. At the side, there are very aerodynamic lines, and the C-pillar treatment gives the impression that the rood is floating. It uses an alternatively coloured, three dimensional textured surface to create lightness in the side aspect. The alloy wheel designs are unique. Our test model included optional 20” “Hurricane” alloy wheels and were particularly stunning, and there are a choice of six colours. Our test car had the ‘launch’ colour (the colour a brand will use in most of its marketing and ads) but we prefer the Rayleigh Red. After that it’s a slightly more sober choice varying shades of grey and silver. CUPRA has managed to gives what is essentially an ID.3 its own identity and that isn’t easy. Sure, they have the same overall basic shape, but look like radically different cars. The Born is better looking.
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“The CUPRA Born is a really handsome new addition to the ever-growing EV fleet. ”
What is the inside of the CUPRA Born like?
Clever design and high quality materials
This appears to have been another area where the brands was allowed to express itself. Firstly, until its Volkswagen cousin there are striking bucket seats as standard to signal a sportier intent and like so many EVs these days, your eyes are immediately drawn to the large floating 12” touchscreen. Sitting behind the steering wheel (which is a multifunction wheel with some haptic sliders on them) is an instrument cluster and our car was also fitted with a HUD (Head Up Display) which really worked very well. This is a €956 option, which is a lot but once you’ve used it, especially in conjunction with navigation, it becomes a very useful tool. Overall the spec levels on even the entry-level car are very impressive. Size-wise, the car sits on a generous 2.7m wheelbase. Rear legroom is decent and there is a 385 litre boot capacity which is pretty good for a car of this size.
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What is the CUPRA Born like to drive?
Slightly sportier than its cousin
You might expect that this could just be a rebadged ID.3 and drives as such but that would be a massive oversimplification, as while, yes it uses the Volkswagen Group’s MEB architecture, when fitted with DCC the car sits 15mm lower at the front and 10mm lower in the rear than the ID.3’s standard set-up. This does feel like a slightly more driver-focused car than the more universal ID.3. The car’s battery weight sits low and central, delivering an almost perfect 50:50 weight distribution and a low centre of gravity. This means the car changes direction quickly and it feels agile, without ever feeling too hard and rigid, which is a very hard balance to achieve. You really do get the best of both worlds here.
Which CUPRA Born should I buy?
Do you really need the biggest battery?
That depends a lot on your needs. There remains a tendency for buyers to navigate straight to the largest battery in an EV because it provides the added assurance of a little more range. But you really should reflect on whether you need this as this can add quite a bit more to the price tag. In the case of the CUPRA Born the 58 kWh battery has a ‘potential’ range of around 420km (think more like 350 in real world conditions) and the larger 77kWh battery is capable of up-to 548 (again, think 460 or so) but you are paying an extra €4,220 for that extra, maybe, 100km of range. Do you really need to pay this much more (probably the cost of tax and insurance for 3 years+) just for the ability to travel a little further in one go? With this in mind, you would be totally fine with the 204hp / 58kWh combination for €36,360 and a generous few ticks on the options list, including 20” wheels, HUD, the Dynamic Pack (DCC Suspension and DCC Drive Profile for €811) and a Heat Pump (€956).
Is the CUPRA Born safe?
Five-star NCAP rating
There is a generous suite of Safety items fitted as standard to the CUPRA Born, including The range of systems is expansive; Predictive Adaptive Cruise Control, Travel Assist, Side and Exit Assist, Traffic Sign Recognition, Emergency Assist and Pre-Crash Assist. All necessary assistance systems’ information is delivered directly to the driver thanks to the augmented reality head-up display system. This is without doubt one of the safety cars on the roads when it comes to assistance systems to stopping you from having an accident in the first place. The CUPRA Born was put through the Euro NCAP safety test in 2022 and it score 5-stars and scored very highly in the sub categories, with 93% for Adult Occupants, 89% for Child Occupants, 73% for Vulnerable Road Users and 80% for Safety Assist.
The CUPRA Born is a really handsome new addition to the ever-growing EV fleet. It looks amazing, drives a little more enthusiastically than the ID.3 upon which it is based and comes with really impressive equipment levels out of the box. Availability will be a challenge initially but when things improve, expect the Born to be a common sight on Irish roads and with good reason.
Spec Check ⚙️
CUPRA Born e-Boost 231hp
Permanent Magnet Synchronous Electric Motor
Single Speed Auto, Rear-Wheel Drive
Price as tested