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In-depth reviews

Cupra Born review - Electric motor, drive & performance

Fun to drive, with slightly sharper responses than the ID.3

Carbuyer Rating

4.3 out of 5

Owners Rating
Be the first to review
Electric motor, drive & performance Rating

4.5 out of 5

​The Cupra Born is arguably one of the first electric hot hatchbacks on sale, particularly if you go for the fastest VZ version. Cupra was previously known for hotted-up versions of existing SEAT models, and that sporty know-how has definitely worked its way into the EV’s DNA.

The Born is based on the Volkswagen ID.3, and feels quite similar as a result. That’s no bad thing – the ID.3 is a predictable and relatively engaging car to drive – but we do wonder if Cupra could’ve made regular versions of its first electric car feel a bit more special.

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That’s not to say that the Born isn’t fun to drive. Its chunky kerbweight is negated by the low-mounted batteries and it has a near-perfect weight distribution across the two axles. The ride is on the firm side, but entry-level V1 cars ride best on their smaller 18-inch wheels; the Born is rarely uncomfortable, but can feel unsettled over particularly rough roads. The upside of the stiff structure is that it remains almost completely flat during faster cornering.

The brakes in electric cars can sometimes feel a little odd but pedal feel isn't an issue in the Born. It's also accomplished when you get to a winding stretch of road, with precise steering that feels sharp without making the car too nervous or twitchy. Overall then, the Born does a good job of feeling like a slightly sportier take on the Volkswagen ID.3, especially in Cupra mode. This gives the steering extra weight, helping the Born feel even more unflappable.

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Get behind the wheel of the Born VZ and Cupra has unlocked even more of its potential. Despite the changes – including lower suspension, chassis upgrades, enhanced brakes and revised steering – looking fairly minor on paper, the result is a car that’s genuinely fun to drive and confidence-inspiring. This is partly down to its steering feel, which now offers feedback in corners as well as being very accurate. Impressively, the Born VZ also has two distinct personality traits, because in its more sedate driving modes, it’s still a well-mannered commuter with adaptive suspension that’s more comfortable than the regular car’s in its softer settings.

Cupra Born electric motor

The 58kWh car has a generous 201bhp, with a single electric motor and rear-wheel drive. This enables a 0-62mph time of 7.3 seconds and, despite the Born being heavier than an equivalent petrol car, we thought it felt quick enough.

It's also available with 'e-Boost' which temporarily increases power to 228bhp, cutting the acceleration time to 6.6 seconds. As with many EVs, acceleration is most impressive up to about 40mph, but the Born still has plenty of power at motorway speeds.

Cars with the 77kWh battery get the e-Boost function as standard, but the heavier battery means it sits in between the two 58kWh cars in terms of straight-line speed – accelerating from 0-62mph in seven seconds dead. As with any Born, though, instant torque gives it electrifying performance away from the line.

Despite still being rear-wheel drive only, the Born VZ gets a major power upgrade thanks to its 321bhp electric motor with a huge 545Nm of torque. This pushes the hatchback from 0-62mph in 5.6 seconds – one-tenth of a second quicker than a Volkswagen Golf GTI, and if anything, it feels even quicker from behind the wheel. A lot of this comes down to Cupra’s tweaked software, which gives the accelerator a much more instant feel and ramps up the strength of the regenerative braking.

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Which Is Best?

Cheapest

  • Name
    150kW V1 58kWh 5dr Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Auto
  • Price
    £34,070

Most Economical

  • Name
    169kW e-Boost V2 77kWh 5dr Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Auto
  • Price
    £39,570

Fastest

  • Name
    169kW e-Boost V1 58kWh 5dr Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Auto
  • Price
    £35,030

Andy is Carbuyer's managing editor, with more than a decade of experience helping consumers find their perfect car. He has an MA in automotive journalism and has tested hundreds of vehicles.

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