Cupra Born review

Category: Electric car

The Born is a sportier take on the VW ID 3, with a better interior and sharper handling

Cupra Born front cornering
  • Cupra Born front cornering
  • Cupra Born rear right driving
  • Cupra Born interior dashboard
  • Cupra Born boot open
  • Cupra Born interior driver display
  • Cupra Born right driving
  • Cupra Born front cornering
  • Cupra Born front left driving
  • Cupra Born front static
  • Cupra Born rear right static
  • Cupra Born rear detail
  • Cupra Born charging socket detail
  • Cupra Born rear badge detail
  • Cupra Born rear lights detail
  • Cupra Born interior front seats
  • Cupra Born interior back seats
  • Cupra Born infotainment touchscreen
  • Cupra Born steering wheel detail
  • Cupra Born front cornering
  • Cupra Born rear right driving
  • Cupra Born interior dashboard
  • Cupra Born boot open
  • Cupra Born interior driver display
  • Cupra Born right driving
  • Cupra Born front cornering
  • Cupra Born front left driving
  • Cupra Born front static
  • Cupra Born rear right static
  • Cupra Born rear detail
  • Cupra Born charging socket detail
  • Cupra Born rear badge detail
  • Cupra Born rear lights detail
  • Cupra Born interior front seats
  • Cupra Born interior back seats
  • Cupra Born infotainment touchscreen
  • Cupra Born steering wheel detail
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Introduction

What Car? says...

The Cupra Born is an electric car that takes its name from a district of Barcelona, but arguably it has closer links to Wolfsburg, home of Volkswagen's HQ.

That’s because under the metal the Born is essentially a VW ID 3 and, like that car, it's a five-door electric hatchback that's about the same size as a Ford Focus.

To set it apart, Cupra has positioned the Born as a sportier option than the ID 3, both through its more aggressive looks and the way it drives. The steering, suspension and brakes have been tuned to make the car more engaging – plus there's a hot VZ version that has those elements enhanced, and also has a longer electric range.

The Born is Cupra's first fully electric model but there are plenty of alternatives available from other manufacturers. One of those is, of course, the ID 3, but there's also the Renault Megane E-Tech and the cheaper MG4 EV.

Or, if you're looking at the bigger battery versions, don't ignore the only slightly pricier Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6 – they offer a similar range between charges but much more room inside.

Read on to find out how the Cupra Born squares up against the best electric car rivals...

"The Born takes all the good bits from the ID 3, and improves on some of the bad ones." – Doug Revolta, Head of Video

Overview

The Cupra Born borrows all the good bits from the VW ID 3 and adds a slightly more polished interior and sharper handling. The entry-level 58kWh V1 version makes the most sense, although is still much more expensive than an equivalent MG4.

  • Good range between charges
  • Relatively fun handling
  • Quiet cruising manners
  • Much pricier than MG4
  • Awful touch-sensitive dashboard buttons
  • Slightly firmer ride than ID 3
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Cupra Born 150kW V1 58kWh 5dr Auto review
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox

With the arrival of the new VZ version, you'll be able to have the Cupra Born with a 79kWh battery, adding to the existing 58kWh and 77kWh options. A single electric motor drives the rear wheels whichever one you go for.

In our tests, the entry-level 58kWh car managed 0-60mph in 7.0 seconds – roughly on a par with the Renault Megane E-Tech and slightly stronger than in the MG4 EV. You can cut the official 0-62mph time from 7.3 to 6.6 seconds by paying for an e-Boost option, but it’s probably not worth the extra cost.

With an official range of 264 miles, the 58kWh Born will be all most buyers need. Granted, you won't get that far in real-world driving, but in our real-world range tests it managed 182 miles in winter and 219 miles in summer.

The 77kWh battery gives an official range of up to 341 miles (expect 235 to 285 miles in the real world), while the 79kWh battery in the range-topping VZ model gives an official figure of 372 miles.

The VZ is suitably quick (0-62mph takes 5.6 seconds), with smooth, linear acceleration in Range, Comfort and Performance drive modes. However, in the Cupra mode, the accelerator is a bit too responsive, and there's often a shudder when you lift off the accelerator.

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Suspension and ride comfort

The Born is a reasonably comfortable electric car and does a good job of absorbing lumps and bumps in the road. The ride height has been lowered slightly compared with the VW ID 3, making the car a little firmer, but the difference isn’t huge and it's more settled than the MG4.

The VZ version gets adaptive suspension as standard, which means you can adjust the set-up via the driving modes to better suit the road you’re on. As such, the suspension is comfortable in the VZ, even with its large 20in alloy wheels. 

However, don't expect the Born to be quite as comfy as a non-electric family car, such as the Seat Leon or VW Golf – the ride can get a little choppier over potholes and there's a bit more fidget on the motorway.

Cupra Born rear right driving

Handling

Being more focused on sportiness than comfort means the Born offers tidy and precise handling. It won't exactly thrill you on every journey, but it’s an absolute breeze to steer through town and easy to thread smoothly down a B-road.

Mind you, it’s a slightly different story with the VZ version, which gets a stiffer suspension set-up for sharper, more playful handling. The VZ inspires more confidence in corners, and is much more enjoyable to drive quickly.

Thanks to accurate, well-weighted steering and decent body control, every Born is more engaging than the Megane E-Tech and MG4 (which loses its composure a little when pushed hard). The steering in the VZ is even sharper, but it’s still not quite as feelsome as what you’ll find in an Abarth 500e

No matter which version you choose, the Born has an excellent turning circle of 10.2m, making it good at negotiating crowded city streets.

You might expect the Born to feel very similar to the ID 3 because they share many parts, but if you drive them back to back, you'll appreciate the tweaks that make the Born a bit sharper and more fun.

Noise and vibration

With precious little noise from the electric motor and gearbox, the Born is very quiet at town speeds. Indeed, only a bit of suspension noise spoils the serene experience.

Pick up the pace and you'll notice some road and wind noise (the Megane E-Tech is slightly quieter at 70mph), but the Born is still impressively hushed – far more so than the MG4 or, indeed, most petrol and diesel alternatives.

The brake pedal is heavier and more naturally weighted than the set-up in the ID 3 and Megane E-Tech, making it easier to judge how much pressure is required to slow down smoothly. That said, the pedal feels a little spongier than in the best electric cars, including the Tesla Model 3.

The VZ is slightly better, with a more progressive feel, but it’s by no means as easy to modulate as a petrol-powered hot hatchback. That's largely because electric cars have both regenerative braking and mechanical brakes, with the integration of the former sometimes causing a spongy brake pedal feel.

"The Born manages to show its fun side without compromising everyday comfort too much." – Dan Jones, Reviewer

Driving overview

Strengths Good range; fun handling; reasonably comfortable ride; impressive refinement

Weaknesses Brakes are a bit spongy; ride can be choppy

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

Driving position and dashboard

Regardless of the trim you go for, you’ll find two things in the Cupra Born: a rotating gear selector, and a digital pod behind the steering wheel with a small but clear 5.3in display that shows your speed and remaining range.

The position of the driver’s seat in relation to the steering wheel and pedals is very good, leaving you feeling relaxed, and the well-bolstered seats are comfortable.

Unfortunately, things are soured somewhat by the copious use of touch-sensitive controls. You’ll find them everywhere, and the ones on the steering wheel manage to be both frustratingly easy to accidentally trigger and infuriatingly difficult to operate when you actually want to.

The air-con is controlled using touch-sensitive sliders. Annoyingly, they don’t illuminate at night unless you go for the VZ version, which gets updated controls.

Everything else is operated from the central infotainment touchscreen, which is much more distracting than using proper physical buttons and knobs.

Visibility, parking sensors and cameras

Seeing out of the front of the Born is pretty easy. Its deep windscreen and slim front pillars afford you a largely unobstructed view of the road ahead. They are heavily angled though, so taller drivers might find they get in the way a little at T-junctions.

The rear pillars are wide and the rear screen is a little shallow, making the standard front and rear parking sensors, and rear-view camera welcome additions when trying to park. Making life even easier, opting for the Tech (L) pack gives the Born Intelligent Park Assist (IPA), which enables the car to steer into spaces for you.

Bright LED headlights are standard, and while they do come with an auto-dipping feature, you can’t get fancier matrix lights that shape their beam to avoid dazzling other drivers.

Cupra Born interior dashboard

Sat nav and infotainment

A 12.0in touchscreen infotainment system comes as standard on all regular Borns, and it features wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring (the MG4 gets smartphone mirroring too, but it's not wireless). 

The screen itself is bright and clear, and the operating system is slightly more intuitive than in the VW ID 3. It's not perfect though, and like the ID 3's it can suffer from a fair amount of lag between your prods and the system reacting. The menus could be simpler, and some icons could be larger to make them easier to hit.

Thankfully, the VZ version gets a slightly larger 12.9in touchscreen with an updated system. It’s easier to use, thanks to a simplified layout, plus the response is slightly faster. That said, the systems in the Kia EV6 and Renault Megane E-Tech are still easier to use.

Quality

The basic layout is the same as the ID 3's, but the Born’s interior is not just a copy-and-paste job. A slightly different mix of materials means it looks and feels classier inside, especially around the centre console and arm rests.

Victory over the ID 3 is by a slim margin, and you’ll still find some hard, cheap-feeling plastic in places. The overall feel of quality inside the Born is much better than in the MG4 EV and the Nissan Leaf but the EV6 feels better all round. That said, most versions of the EV6 are a lot more expensive than the Born.

"The Born's interior feels a little more premium than that of its VW cousin, with a broader mixture of materials and colours, although it’s darker overall." – Will Nightingale, Reviews Editor

Interior overview

Strengths Comfortable driving position; good forward visibility

Weaknesses Frustrating infotainment system in regular versions; fiddly touch-sensitive buttons; interior quality not the best

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

Front space

Even if you’re blessed in the height department, you won’t find yourself struggling for space in the front of the Cupra Born. Indeed, even those measuring north of six feet tall will enjoy ample head and leg room. 

On top of that, the Born feels surprisingly wide inside, which means you won’t be rubbing shoulders with your front-seat passenger, even if you’re both quite broad. 

There’s pretty good storage space available too. A large chunk of that is in the centre console, which has various cubbies and the ubiquitous cup-holders. The glovebox is a decent size, as are the door bins.

Rear space

The Born is roughly the same length as the VW Golf and is just as roomy in the back. There’s space for at least a 6ft passenger to sit behind someone equally tall without feeling squished, although there's not a lot of head or leg room going spare.

To give you some context, space in the back is very similar to that in the VW ID 3. That means the Tesla Model 3 is much roomier, and the Nissan Leaf has more leg room (if not quite as much head room). The Renault Megane E-Tech is tighter in the back all round.

The 77kWh model has two back seats, while the 58kWh has three. With three rear adult passengers on board, there won’t be a lot of shoulder room to spare, but the middle passenger will appreciate the flat floor with no central tunnel to straddle. All models get three rear head restraints, unlike in the MG4 EV (which has two).

Cupra Born boot open

Seat folding and flexibility

There’s not a huge amount to report here. You get 60/40 split rear seats as standard, which, while not as useful as having 40/20/40 seats, is par for the course in small electric cars.

You don’t have the option of sliding or reclining rear seats, which you can get in some slightly pricier electric SUVs including the Hyundai Ioniq 5. To get a ski hatch (which also brings fold-down rear centre armrest) you’ll have to pay for the pricier 77kWh battery in V2 and top-spec V3 trim

Boot space

At 385 litres, the Born's boot is about the same size as a Golf’s and will be fine for such daily duties as carrying a small buggy, the weekly shop or a weekend away.

The Leaf’s boot is bigger (as long as you avoid higher trim models with the Bose subwoofer that robs space) as is the Megane E-Tech’s, but the Model 3 is in a different league if you need lots of cargo capacity.

We managed to squeeze six carry-on suitcases into the Born's boot, one fewer than in the Megane and one more than we squeezed into the MG4. An optional height-adjustable boot floor removes any load lip when placed in its highest position and has space underneath for smaller items.

"Boot space is on a par with the ID 3's, but a slightly different shape meant we were able to cram an extra carry-on suitcase under the Born's load cover." – Darren Moss, Deputy Digital Editor

Practicality overview

Strengths Good space in the front and back; loads of interior storage space

Weaknesses Boot not as big as some rivals; no sliding or reclining rear seats

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2

Even the entry-level Cupra Born is more expensive than a top-of-the-range MG4 EV, and if you choose your Born in longer range VZ or 77kWh form with top V3 trim, you'll be spending close to Kia EV6 or Hyundai Ioniq 5 money. That's why we think the 58kWh version in V1 trim makes the most sense.

Just like any fully electric car, the Born is incredibly tempting if you're a company car driver, thanks to low benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax rates. 

The 58kWh Born has the ability to fast charge at up to 125kW, while the 79kWh VZ Born can charge at up to 185kW, which means a 10-80% top-up will take around half an hour for both versions. The 77kWh version can accept 170kW and takes a similar time. With a 7kW home wall box, you’re looking at empty to full in around nine hours in the 58kWh version, and 12 hours in the 77kWh.

Equipment, options and extras

Entry-level V1 trim gets you LED headlights, climate control, parking aids and 18in alloy wheels. It's all you really need and there are various option packs available.

V2 comes with bigger 19in wheels, privacy glass, heated windscreen washer nozzles and a head-up display to project your speed on to the windscreen. It also gets heated seats and a heated steering wheel, so is worth considering if you like your creature comforts.

V3 is too expensive to recommend, but comes with 20in wheels and electric front-seat adjustment with a built-in massage function.

Top-of-the-range VZ is similarly equipped to V3, but adds bespoke 20in wheels and sports bucket seats up front.

Cupra Born interior driver display

Reliability

Cupra came bottom in the 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey out of 32 car makers. However, the Born itself did much better, finishing in fifth place out of 20 electric car models, with a reliability rating of 95.6%.

To give you peace of mind, Cupra now gives you a five years/90,000 miles warranty (until April 2024 it was three years). That’s better than many rivals offer, although Kia gives you seven years. The Born's battery is covered for eight years, as it is with most electric cars.

Safety and security

The Born gets an extensive suite of safety kit. That includes automatic emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane-keeping assistance, adaptive cruise control, a driver fatigue monitor and traffic-sign recognition, which shows you the speed limit of the road you're driving on. 

Just like the closely-related ID 3, the Born scored a full five stars when it was tested by Euro NCAP. The Born scored higher in the adult occupancy section than the ID 3, with no mention of the poor chest protection that blotted that car's score book. The Born also outperformed the Renault Megane E-Tech in this area.

"Bills for running the Born and the ID 3 should be very similar, with the Born expected to work out a couple of hundred quid cheaper over three years due to its slightly lower predicted depreciation and electricity costs." – Claire Evans, Consumer Editor

Costs overview

Strengths Loads of standard safety kit; competitive charging speeds

Weaknesses Cupra reliability is a concern; MG4 is considerably cheaper


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FAQs

  • Cupra is part of the Volkswagen Group, and the Born is very closely related to the VW ID 3 electric car. However, the Born carries no Volkswagen badging.

  • Cupra was originally a subbrand of Seat, and was used to mark out the Spanish manufacturer's sportiest models. These days, Cupra is a brand in its own right, but still has close links to Seat as well as its parent company, Volkswagen.

  • The 58kWh version of the Born strikes the best balance between price and capability. We’d go for V1 trim, which comes with plenty of kit and keeps the price palatable.

  • The Born is quite a bit more expensive than the MG4, but then (if you take price out of the equation) it is a demonstrably better car. Check out our Cupra Born deals for the latest prices.

At a glance
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Target Price from £33,784
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RRP price range £34,125 - £41,385
Number of trims (see all)3
Number of engines (see all)2
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)electric
Available doors options 5
Warranty 5 years / 90000 miles
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £68 / £83
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £136 / £165
Available colours