The Cupra Born is all sharp features, copper highlights, and snarls, ready to breath copper fire! While VW took a soft and comfy, futuristic approach with it’s sister, the VW ID3 (which is still some time off coming to the Australian and has already had a facelift) the good news is, the Born is here in Australia now and we drove it. And, we liked it very much.
Cupra know their global market and Australian buyers are no different. The Born is aimed squarely at the younger gen., probably no kids, just one driver under 35 at the wheel. Smaller than anything else currently available, it’s like a zippy terrier, ready for quick, point to point city driving, and parking – not so much the cross country cruise to Brisbane (although it could).
Around town it attracts plenty of comments from the target market, did I hear Hot Hatch? People haven’t seen anything like it before!
Cupra is the performance brand of SEAT (See-at), the Spanish car maker owned by the VW group. They have clearly positioned their range at a different, more sporty target market than the parent company. They recently launched in Australia with a range of ICE SUV’s loosely based on VW SUV platforms but the Born is something special. It’s their first EV and it’s based on the VW ID3 platform- the same, but completely different!
It fits like a beautiful glove. Not a leather glove, but a sustainable SEAQUAL fabric, sourced from marine plastic – a nice touch. I’ve got plenty of experience in VW buckets, always fit my derriere perfectly and these no different.
All the adjustment you would expect. Design wise, you will know you are in a VW family vehicle, numerous style cues carried over from ICE car range, not the giant leap forward other brands have made.
Hold the wheel though and you know you are in a driver’s car. The old VW feel of quality – just really nice to hold and in the right position can be a good thing. Adjust it up and down and the small screen in front of you moves with you. Handy, just for the basics; speedo and nav. Step out of a VW and it’s all vaguely familiar, with lots of new stuff too. In the middle is main Info/Nav. Screen – plenty written about the VW families attempts to play catch up with the industry leaders, so rely on Apple Carplay or Android Auto.
It’s spacious inside, tons of head room and bigger than it looks, even though you are sitting a bit higher because of the battery. Overall, the views out, front and back are excellent. I’d suggest however their won’t be to many kids, or adults ever sitting in the back seats to enjoy the extra space.
Interior fit and materials exude quality, it feels tight, solid, reliable. Apart from the digital screens, it harks back to the ICE cars of old – no major leap forward.
The new button setup on the wheel seems a bit too busy, and plenty of comments about the lack of buttons elsewhere. Don’t forget the big round one, to give you an EV boost! The Cupra copper is everywhere, not subtle.
The Salesman told me most people like it. For me, it works well, but if you don’t like it, it won’t grow on you.
Under the hood, there is nothing to see ! I’m not too worried about what the engine is made of or how it works, and I’m suggest you shouldn’t either. A VW Group electric power plant is going to work (for a long time) and chances are you will never know how and if you did know it would be meaningless. You didn’t care how your ICE car worked, you just got in a drove.
After a brief familiarisation, belt up, push the Brake pedal, find and engage the D lever next to the dash and with little fuss, off you go.
You keep forgetting how quiet EV’s are, you realise how much you rely on your ears to identify other cars as we almost drive into another car returning to the car park.
The salesman declared no one had had an accident, yet, but they were covered!
It felt really light, nimble, easy to operate as we negotiated the carpark exit. We didn’t get out onto the open road, just ticking around the inner Sydney city, but it went exactly where you pointed it as I resisted the temptation to give it a bit of juice.
I’m not into the boy racer style of driving it would suggest, but with rear wheel drive, when you floor it – it goes, fast, in straight line. We didn’t get a chance to check out any winding roads but it feels really nimble and even the ride around city roads, very smooth. Most importantly, it made me smile.
Great work from the Cupra suspension team, as more extensive reviews suggest, the benefits of the rear wheel drive and the tight handling on the open road make for a good overall package.
Here in Australia we are going to get the full range battery, giving super long range, even for a small car. Claimed to be over 500km range, we only mention it because it’s seems to ignore the target market and purpose of this as a young, urban city car. It’s going to get charged every day, so it could have been the smaller, cheaper battery leading the initial charge into Australia.
So how a manufacturer delivers style and daily drivability is going to be critical for a model’s success or failure. At the moment, the Born is unique in EV Hot Hatch segment so it’s going find appeal with the younger set. Even if it’s more mild sauce that hot chilli, price will dilute demand to some extent but it’s an exciting glimpse of the future.
“We all have a desire to create something that will show we were here.”