Road Test - The CUPRA Born


Review by Giles Blair, Editor of The Daily Record Road Record



IF YOU want proof of how good all-electric cars have become in recent years then the CUPRA Born should provide you with all the evidence you need. 

The dynamic Spanish marque’s family hatchback is thoroughly enjoyable to drive, has masses of kerb appeal and features plenty of hi-tech goodies. 

I was lucky enough to recently drive the Born in top-spec V3 trim with the least potent of three powertrains available. 

Nonetheless, the 58kWh battery pack and 204PS electric motor still provided plenty of smile-inducing performance. 

The test car had the wonderful linear acceleration you expect from an EV, and always felt firmly planted on the road – partly due to the centrally placed, underfloor battery pack. 

With the motor integrated above the back axle, the Born also displayed that fun “point and shoot” characteristic of rear-wheel-drive sports cars. 

And it was no slouch, either, with the dash to 62mph taking just 7.3 seconds and a top speed of 99mph – more than enough for everyday driving needs. 

It was truly fun to negotiate the undulating, twisty, country roads south of Glasgow – the chassis and steering set-up aiding the driving dynamics and ride comfort over some pretty uneven surfaces. 

With the gear selector handily placed on a steering-wheel column stalk, it was easy to flip from D to B mode to make the most of energy regeneration, which occurs simply by lifting your foot off the accelerator. 

Range, Comfort, Performance and Individual modes, easily accessed through the central touchscreen, also altered the Born’s responses to suit my mood or the circumstances. 

There’s a confidence-inspiring view of the road ahead as the underfloor gubbins result in a more elevated driving position than a traditional hatchback. Yet despite the engaging drive, it still offers a healthy range of 264 miles. 

Meanwhile, a 120kW rapid charger will rejuice the batteries from five to 80 per cent in 35 minutes. And an 11kW AC charger can take the pack from zero to full capacity in six and a quarter hours. 

The exterior looks immediately give the game away about the Born’s prowess, too. 

The upper half is all about sporty, flowing lines with sleek headlights, a shark nose bonnet a large integrated rear spoiler and slimline tail lights running across the width of the car. 

Even the back-end C-pillar makes the car stand out as it features a three-dimensional, textured surface in a contrasting black finish to make the roof look as if it is floating. 

The lower half, distinctly separated by a rising sharp crease from front to back, accentuates muscular power. 

There is a bold, copper-framed air intake at the front, dynamic large side sills and a beefy gloss black panel sitting above a sizeable diffuser at the back. 

All versions feature striking alloy wheels, and none more so than the V3 with its 20in Hurricane variants. 

Step inside and you will find a cabin that is spacious, clutter-free, sporty and upmarket, with a build quality that befits a brand belonging to the VW group. 

There is some admirable copper-coloured and metallic detailing, great soft-touch finishing and truly comfortable seats – bucket-style up front, to add to the excitement. 

Throughout the interior, there are some fantastic eco-friendly materials that make use of upcycled marine plastics and recycled polyester – but you would never guess it, unless you knew it. 

The boot has a healthy 385-litre capacity for the family luggage or shopping and neat hidden area below to store the recharging cable. 

A stand-out feature for me was the customisable 5.3in cockpit display cleverly placed on top of the steering-wheel column. It means that, no matter what adjustments you make to the seating or steering wheel, you will always be able to clearly see the vital driving information. 

That is also backed up by a head-up display that projects data such as speed, navigation commands and driver assistance indicators on to the windscreen. 

Pride of place goes to the 12in infotainment touchscreen atop the centre of the dashboard, through which many of the car’s functions and set-ups are controlled. 

It includes advanced voice assistant technology and wireless smartphone integration, as well as intelligent sat nav. 

CUPRA Connect provides a further raft of services that can be accessed remotely such as managing battery charging, climate control activation and journey planning. It also includes emergency and breakdown calls plus service scheduling. 

Driver and safety aids are comprehensive across the Born range, taking in adaptive cruise control with speed limiter, road sign display and forward collision warning with automatic braking. 

Furthermore, you get a driver alertness recognition system and a rear-view camera. 

With an on-the-road price that starts at £38,390, the tested V3 variant certainly impressed me for its overall quality and driving fun.