Cupra Born long-term test: report 5

When we first tested the Cupra Born we were so impressed that we named it Small Electric Car of the Year. But does it continue to impress when you live with it every day?...

Cupra Born driving

The car Cupra Born 58kWh V3 150kW Run by James Tute, senior sub-editor

Why we’re running it To see if our Small Electric Car of the Year still makes sense as commuter and leisure transport if you don't have access to a home charger 

Needs to Deliver on the promise of a fun driving experience, low running costs and good practicality, while having enough range for weekend getaways

Mileage 2880 List price £38,390 Target Price £38,390 Price as tested £38,390 Official range 250 miles Test range 249 miles

25 August 2022 – Computer says go

I was charging my Cupra Born the other week when I realised that as well as topping up, it was also doubling as a games console.

No, really – while I’d been sat in the driver’s seat staring into space, my teenage daughter had linked up her phone and started firing digital missiles at digital targets on the infotainment touchscreen.

This, I thought, is not a welcome development in the evolution of the motor vehicle. But where I find I can take or leave most in-case tech, there are always two exceptions: adaptive cruise control (ACC) and a head-up display that projects your speed on the windscreen ahead of you.

Cupra Born ACC controls

In case you’re not familiar, adaptive cruise control is a bit like old-fashioned ‘dumb’ cruise control, in that you can dial in a speed and the car will stick to it, but instead of blundering on regardless of what’s in front of you, it monitors the vehicle ahead and brakes or accelerates as needed. On the Born, you set the speed, and turn ACC on and off  using controls on the left spoke of the steering wheel.

I’ve done enough driving with and without the system to confirm that being able to hand over a lot of the legwork (literally) of speeding up and slowing down to a computer makes a huge difference to stress and tiredness levels.

Impressively, the Born gets adaptive cruise in all trims, but you have to step up to the middle one, V2, to get the head-up display.

Cupra Born driver assistance settings

So, how effective is the Cupra system? Well, I’d rate it as ‘good’ rather than ‘excellent’. It usually matches the speed of the car, lorry or bike in front accurately, but sometimes takes a while to speed up again after a vehicle I’m following slows down and pulls off down a side road.

Likewise, starting and stopping are generally smooth, but there’s occasionally a delay (forcing me to prod the accelerator to get going) or rough, learner driver-style halt.

None of that changes my view that adaptive cruise is the best thing since sliced white bread – and infinitely preferable to in-car gaming.

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