► Cupra's take on the ID.3
► Gets a range of tweaks to differentiate it
► But is it different enough?
The Leon and Formentor may look the part, but the Cupra story really begins with this – the all-new Cupra Born. The first all-electric Cupra on sale, the Born makes good on the new brand’s promises; performance, emotion, and sustainability.
But just how different is it to its MEB twin, the VW ID.3 – and does it do enough to separate itself from Volkswagen’s BEV? To find out, we drove LHD examples of Cupra’s new BEV around Barcelona – in both 150kW and 170kW forms. Keep reading for the full review.
It looks good!
It’s fair to say the new Cupra Born is a looker. Although it shares a platform with the VW ID.3, it’s dressed in the same folds and creases we’ve seen on the Formentor and Leon – and the results are striking to say the least. The Born looks less-appliance-like than its MEB twin; Cupra’s bronze highlights and full LED lighting work well and unlike the ID.3, there’s no unsightly black band beneath the windscreen.
The Cupra features some changes under the surface too; the Born has a quicker ‘progressive’ steering rack than the ID.3 and lowered axles as standard (15mm at front and 10mm at the rear). The way the Cupra applies its power to the road is different, too; it’s available with wider 235 and there’s also more aggressive response thanks to a different DCC (dynamic chassis control) – especially in Cupra mode.
The Born is available with three battery sizes, 45kWh, 58kWh and 77kWh and estimated range can vary from 211 to 336 miles depending on the model you get. We drove the 150 kW and 170kW trims, which translates to 201bhp and 228bhp – and the latter was kitted out with what Cupra calls eBoost.
Just like similar modes we’ve seen on VW Group cars, eBoost offers a small power increase but only does so if parameters such as temperature and available charge align.
How does it drive?
As you’d expect from a compact EV, the Cupra works well in Barcelona’s narrow streets and busy junctions. While 0-62mph is a sensible 6.6 seconds for the 170kW car and 7.3 seconds for the 150kW model, both can hit 30mph in just 2.6 or 2.9 seconds, making them ideal for silently darting through traffic. So far, so ID.3.
On winding twisting roads, Cupra’s engineering tweaks are more noticeable: The Born’s quicker rack means it feels keener to dive into flowing bends and hairpins, and the revised DCC gives the impression you have a closer link with the Born’s single, rear-wheel-drive motor on the way out.
However, the feel from the left pedal is less intuitive than the right, and the actual stopping-power on tap feels slightly inadequate too. The Born was able to drag itself out of hairpins throughout our mountain drive, but often struggled to comfortably slow for them.
What’s it like inside?
The Cupra’s interior will be familiar to anyone who has driven an ID.3, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Like the VW, key information is shown on a pod that moves with the steering wheel, and functions are controlled via the wheel with capacitive buttons – or a floating 12-inch touchscreen. Like the ID.3, the gears are also controlled via a shifting mechanism attached to the cockpit dials.
On the whole, the Cupra’s interior feels good. 3D textures and flashes of bronze elevate it compared to the more appliance-like VW, and it all makes for a strong package. However, there were a few issues: we found the A-pillar to be a little obstructive – as it is in the ID.3 – and the capacitive steering-mounted buttons were pretty hit and miss.
In isolation, the Cupra Born is an impressive bit of kit. Stylish, with more than enough power for urban environments, it also feels a touch sporty when you get past the city limits. The interior is solid too, and it’s competitive on paper too. However, the biggest problem for the Cupra comes in the form of its MEB-powered VW counterpart.
The Cupra may look significantly better, but in standard 45kWh or 58kWh trims it’s hard to justify buying it over the VW. Some of the tweaks Cupra engineers have made are very subtle – and certainly don’t put daylight between the two MEB cars.
In higher-spec trims with all boxes ticked there should be more of a difference, but it’s still not as pronounced as we’d hope.
Specs are for 170kW eBoost model.