2020 Seat el-Born electric car revealed: price, specs and release date

Concept previews Seat’s first electric car: a five-door family hatchback that will challenge the Nissan Leaf and Renault Zoe...

Seat el-Born concept front

On sale: 2020 | Price from: £26,000 (est)

Look just beneath the surface of this el-Born concept car’s funky, futuristic styling and you’ll glimpse Seat’s first electric car. Based on the same underpinnings as Volkswagen’s upcoming ID electric hatchback, the el-Born will lead to a production model with about the same footprint as the current Leon family hatchback.

Seat el-Born concept rear

2020 Seat el-Born range and charging

Powered by a 201bhp electric motor, the el-Born has an official range of 261 miles on the new WLTP test cycle – far greater than electric rivals such as the Renault Zoe and Nissan Leaf, which offer 186 and 168 miles respectively on the same test. The el-Born should also be nippy; it can cover the 0-62mph sprint in 7.5sec.

Charging the el-Born to 80% capacity takes as little as 47 minutes using the latest 100kW rapid chargers, but that time will increase dramatically if you use a standard wall-mounted charger. A heat pump can extend battery life by as much as 37 miles in conditions where cold can quickly sap an electric car’s range.

Seat is traditionally seen as the VW Group’s sporty brand – something that’s emphasised by the el-Born’s wide, low stance, with its wheels pushed to the very edges of the car. Design features include a closed-off grille (no air intake is needed to cool an engine). There are intakes lower down, though, to increase the car’s aerodynamic efficiency and send air to the battery pack. The el-Born concept sits on 20in wheels that help to channel cooling air to the brakes.

Seat el-Born concept interior

2020 Seat el-Born interior

Inside, the el-Born features a 10.0in touchscreen infotainment system that’s angled towards the driver, plus a digital instrument cluster. The absence of an engine up front has also allowed Seat to maximise room inside the car and provide lots of storage space, including under the centre console between the front seats, although boot capacity is still unknown.

The el-Born is capable of controlling its own acceleration, braking and steering in certain situations, such as on the motorway, and its advanced driver assistance systems include a self-parking function.

Prices haven't yet been announced, but the el-Born is likely to cost slightly less than the Volkswagen ID, which is expected to start at £27,000. A price of around £26,000 is therefore likely, but remember that as a fully electric car, the el-Born will also qualify for the Government's electric vehicle grant, which currently stands at £3500.

Seat el-Born concept rear

What's the el-Born like to sit in?

The first thing that strikes you when you jump in the Seat el-Born is how spacious it is; pre-conceptions born of years of driving traditionally engined cars need to be reset, as it's clear that the exterior body size now relates to more interior room than we are used to.

The second, however, is just how much - for all its billing as a concept - it looks and feels like a production car on the inside. Yes, some of the flourishes may dim, but look at the interior pictures and you'll soon understand that there's nothing there that is likely to change significantly.

That has to be good news, because it's both futuristic, practical and comfortable. That's a fine line to tread, and Seat has done it well, giving the el-Born an edge of an exciting, next-generation car without making it so different that it is intimidating.

The best (and worst) electric cars

If Seat's el-Born has got you thinking about electric cars, which ones should you consider? Here, we count down our favourites and tell you the ones to avoid.

10. Hyundai Ioniq

New Hyundai Ioniq vs Toyota Prius

The Ioniq is really three cars in one; it's available as a conventional hybrid, a plug-in hybrid and as a fully electric car. The EV version we're including here has a range of 174 miles and enough torque to make acceleration feel brisk around town. The interior is nice, too, and our recommended Premium models get sat-nav and heated front seats as standard.

Read our full Hyundai Ioniq review, see our latest leasing offers

9. BMW i3

Even though it’s six years old now, it still looks incredibly futuristic outside, plus its smart interior makes the i3 one of the most appealing electric cars on sale today. Its groundbreaking use of super-light carbonfibre and aluminium offset the weight of the heavy battery pack that’s mounted beneath its floor, and a recent facelift means it’s better to drive than ever.

The latest changes to the i3 are so new that we haven’t yet put it through our Real Range test just yet – but BMW reckons that it’ll manage around 160 miles on a full charge in real-world conditions.

Read our full BMW i3 review, see our latest deals or see our leasing offers

8. Tesla Model X

On paper, Tesla's all-electric family SUV seems to be the dream combination, offering the luxury of a Range Rover Sport with the green credentials of an electric car. In practice, its low running costs and practical interior are hard to fault, and even the entry-level 75D versions aren't short on pace, but parts of its interior do look a little low-rent.

Read our full Tesla Model X review and see our latest deals

Next: more of our favourite electric vehicles >

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