New Cupra Born vs Volkswagen ID.3

The new Cupra Born has a lot going for it, being closely related to the five-star Volkswagen ID.3. But which is the better electric car?...

Cupra Born vs Volkswagen ID.3

The contenders

New Cupra Born 58kWh V2

List price £34,190*
Target price £34,190*

A slightly sportier take on the Volkswagen ID.3, with much the same range and performance but some notable differences inside


Volkswagen ID.3 Pro Performance Family

List price £34,995*
Target price £34,480*

Our reigning Small Electric Car of the Year has a wide range of talents, including a better-than average range, and offers plenty of choice for buyers

*not including £2,500 gov't grant


Cain and Abel. The Boleyn sisters. Liam and Noel Gallagher. There have been countless cases of sibling rivalry over the years, and this conflict is just as likely to be found in the automotive world as anywhere else – especially where the VW Group is concerned.

New Cupra Born rear 3/4

The latest case in point is the challenge being posed to the Volkswagen ID.3 by the closely related Cupra Born, which has just arrived on our shores. It shares its underpinnings with the ID.3 but Cupra has had time to work on ways of distinguishing its first electric vehicle (EV) from its stablemate and, you’d hope, iron out some of the wrinkles that exist in the ID.3.

Our two contenders still look as though they hatched from the same egg, but the Born promises to be the sportier alternative, not only in appearance but also to drive. They use the same 201bhp electric motor and 58kWh (usable capacity) battery and are very close on price in the mid-range trims we’ve got here.

So, is the ID.3 still the best small EV you can buy, or has Cupra managed to improve on an already very well-rounded package?

Volkswagen ID.3 rear 3/4

Driving

Performance, ride, handling, refinement

Given that they have identical power outputs, it’s hardly surprising that our contenders are very closely matched when it comes to acceleration, with the Born sprinting from 0-60mph in 6.9sec and the slightly heavier ID.3 just a tenth of a second behind. Both have more than enough performance for a practical family hatch, responding smoothly and strongly to prods of the accelerator pedal at lower speeds and having plenty in reserve for overtaking or getting up to motorway speeds.

If that isn’t quick enough, you can get a more powerful (228bhp) e-Boost version of the Born that cuts the 0-62mph time by 0.7sec. For now at least, there isn’t a hotter version of the ID.3.

No vibrations are felt through the steering wheel, seat or pedals in either car, adding to the sense of serenity that you’ll experience in most situations as you drive along. There isn’t much noise to contend with, either, although the Born is quieter at motorway speeds.

Cupra Born 2022 front

You’ll hear a little more wind noise around the windscreen in the ID.3, accompanied by marginally more road noise, even though it rides on 18in wheels, compared with the optional 20s on our Born test car (19s are standard). We suspect the standard panoramic glass roof doesn’t help matters in the ID.3, either, turning the interior into more of an echo chamber.

On the other hand, you’re more likely to hear the Born’s firmer suspension thumping away as it tackles bumpy roads. Something else you might notice in either car at lower speeds is the sound of the optional heat pump, which hums away like a motor if you’re trying to warm up the interior of the car on cold days.

When it comes to handling, both of our contenders are good enough for most. Neither is the last word in fun, but the ID.3 offers plenty of grip and composure, without too much lean in corners. The Born makes more of a concerted effort to entertain the driver with even more grip, tighter body control and precise steering. While it’s hardly a transformation from the ID.3’s set-up, the sharper responses and added composure will no doubt appeal more to keen drivers. But an electric hot hatch it is not.

Volkswagen ID.3 2022 front

Thankfully, the Born manages to show its fun side on country roads without compromising on everyday comfort too much. If anything, its firmer suspension makes it feel more controlled at higher speeds than the ID.3, which doesn’t settle as quickly over larger bumps. However, the ID.3’s more forgiving low-speed ride and lighter pedals make it the more relaxing option, especially for those who spend more of their time in towns and cities.

Naturally, you won’t be feeling very relaxed if you have to worry about range. You have a choice of three battery sizes with the Born and ID.3, ranging from 45kWh to 77kWh. Even the smallest one can officially cover more than 200 miles on a full charge, but if you frequently do longer journeys, the 77kWh option, with its official 340-mile range, will be the better bet. Both of our 58kWh test cars promise to cover around 260 miles between charges, but it was the Born that took the lead with an estimated 191-mile real-world range, based on its energy consumption on our test route, with the ID.3 slightly behind, on 185 miles.