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Expert Review

CUPRA Born hatchback (2021 - ) review

The Cupra Born takes Seat’s sporting brand into the electric age in fine style while being a sharper drive than the VW ID.3 on which it is based

The Auto Trader expert verdict:

4.5

An all-electric hot hatch, the Cupra Born puts a stylish twist on the VW ID.3 foundations it also shares with the Skoda Enyaq IV. In keeping with Cupra’s sporty image, the Born is sharper to drive than both and, while the shape is familiar, the trademark bronze embellishments on the outside and sustainably sourced fabrics inside mean it feels as cool as it is worthy. Of the various battery and power options the fastest e-Boost version offers a convincing combination of performance with the practicality of over 300 miles of range, though there are more affordable options if you don’t need to go so far – or fast - between charges.

Reasons to buy:

  • tickCooler than the ID.3
  • tickSharp to drive
  • tickEnough range for most drivers

At a glance:

Running costs for a CUPRA Born hatchback

If you like the look of the all-singing, all dancing e-Boost version brace yourself for this costing quite a bit more
We’ll have to see how pricing of the Born pans out in comparison to the ID.3 and Enyaq but it’s reasonable to expect it start in the same ballpark and keep at least some of line-up within the £35,000 threshold for the Government’s plug-in car grant. These will likely be the lower-powered versions with the smallest battery and, as a consequence, shortest range so if you like the look of the all-singing, all dancing e-Boost version brace yourself for this costing quite a bit more. Like all electric cars, though, the Born will save in running costs for both private and company drivers, the latter especially well catered for by cheaper Benefit In Kind and other cost saving incentives. If you are lucky enough to have a driveway or off-street parking where you can install a home charge point you’ll be laughing, especially if you’re smart with your charging and top-up overnight on off-peak tariffs.
Expert rating: 4/5

Reliability of a CUPRA Born hatchback

In theory electric cars have a lot fewer moving parts and less to go wrong than petrol, diesel or hybrid models so servicing should be cheaper
The Born, the ID.3, the ID.4, the Skoda Enyaq and the Audi Q4 E-Tron all share the same platform and it’s still too soon to call it on reliability. In theory electric cars have a lot fewer moving parts and less to go wrong than petrol, diesel or hybrid models so servicing should be cheaper. The issues are more likely to come with the tech, though, and anecdotally both VW and Skoda drivers have been reporting glitches with the screen-based operating system that controls everything from nav to heating and ventilation. We’ll have to hope Cupra has got the latest updates and ducks these issues.
Expert rating: 3/5

Safety for a CUPRA Born hatchback

If you’re more relaxed about handing over control to the car you can upgrade to the Travel Assist package
In the modern style the Born comes equipped with plenty of driver assistance and safety systems to keep you out of trouble, including sign recognition, adaptive cruise control and lane keeping that – as usual – we immediately turned off to avoid annoying interventions. If you’re more relaxed about handing over control to the car you can upgrade to the Travel Assist package that combines the cruise control and lane-keeping into semi-automated driving, Emergency Assist to bring the car to a halt in the event the driver becomes incapacitated and a system to warn you if you’re about to open the door into a cyclist or oncoming car.
Expert rating: 4/5

How comfortable is the CUPRA Born hatchback

In keeping with the Born’s sportier image all versions get one-piece, bucket-style seat backs to grip you in place through the corners
The basic layout of the Born is – unsurprisingly – very similar to that of the ID.3 and other cars on this platform, with a very open and minimal look and plenty of space for those in the front and the back. It’s a taller car than a regular hatchback like the Born’s Leon brother and this higher seating position will likely find favour with a lot of drivers, though the visibility at junctions and through corners is massively compromised and you often find yourself having to move in your seat in an attempt to peer around the double front pillars. In keeping with the Born’s sportier image all versions get one-piece, bucket-style seat backs to grip you in place through the corners and these look good and feel comfortable, while scoring eco points for the recycled material used to cover them. The flat floor in the back means anyone riding in the middle gets a better deal than in most regular cars, with no need to straddle a bulge in the floor. The Born runs lower suspension than the ID.3, this and the ‘progressive’ steering contributing to a sharper response at the wheel. The weight of the car and the long wheelbase play to its advantage over bumps – especially around town where speed humps are swallowed without fuss – but work against it on twisty roads. Electric hot hatch or no, keen drivers will still be more entertained in a Leon or Formentor. But the Born is at least more fun than the ID.3 and delivers on Cupra’s sporty brand image.
Expert rating: 4/5

Features of the CUPRA Born hatchback

If you can get over the embarrassment of starting every interaction with ‘Hola, hola!’ there is also the option of voice activation
The minimal interior of the Born looks cool but, like all recent cars across the VW group, the insistence on putting all the controls for phone, media, heating and ventilation and everything else through the central touch-screen can be frustrating, ditto the replacement of physical switches with touch sensitive ‘swipe’ controls. Tech fans will enjoy it though, likewise the slick wireless connectivity for both Apple and Android phones so you can use your apps on the move. If you can get over the embarrassment of starting every interaction with ‘Hola, hola!’ there is also the option of voice activation if you don’t fancy stabbing away at the screen. An optional Beats stereo system is an attractive option, while e-Boost versions gain F1-style steering wheel buttons to switch quickly from Comfort to Cupra mode when the road opens out.
Expert rating: 4/5

Power for a CUPRA Born hatchback

The 58kWh battery has the choice of 204 horsepower or 231 horsepower e-Boost variants
You can have your Born with one of three battery options and, in various combinations, three power levels. Currently all versions use a single motor driving the rear wheels. The smallest 45kWh battery is paired with a 150 horsepower motor for an official range of just over 200 miles, while the 58kWh battery has the choice of 204 horsepower or 231 horsepower e-Boost variants. For the maximum 335-miles range you need the biggest 77kWh battery, which comes exclusively in e-Boost trim. We tried the 204 horsepower version first, which is basically the same as Pro Performance versions of the ID.3 and feels decently brisk thanks to a 7.3-second 0-62mph time. The e-Boost version we drove next does a better job of delivering on the Born’s sporty aspirations and is usefully quicker than its ID.3 brother, reflected in its 6.6-second 0-62mph time. Like all electric cars the power is delivered instantly and silently, though if you’re looking for Tesla-like acceleration to impress your friends the Born isn’t quite there yet and, at this level, a Ioniq 5 feels a good deal faster.
Expert rating: 4/5

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