Cupra Born VZ (2024) review: the Born gets an identity | CAR Magazine

Cupra Born VZ (2024) review: the Born gets an identity

Published: 17 May 2024 Updated: 17 May 2024
Cupra Born VZ low front shot
  • At a glance
  • 5 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 5 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5

By Curtis Moldrich

CAR's Digital Editor, F1 and sim-racing enthusiast. Partial to clever tech and sports bikes

By Curtis Moldrich

CAR's Digital Editor, F1 and sim-racing enthusiast. Partial to clever tech and sports bikes

► The ultimate Born, so far
► More power and grip than before
► But less than the MG 4 XPower

The serene Montserrat mountains above Barcelona provide some respite from the dense streets of the capital and they feature some incredibly demanding roads too. Where better to test the new Cupra Born VZ than around its own backyard?

Another Born? Well sort of. Coming three years after Cupra’s first EV, itself a warm remix of the Volkwagen ID.3, the Born VZ promises to pull no punches when it comes to performance. Where the handling of the even previous eBoost range-topper felt nearly there, the VZ (which stands for Veloz or Speed) promises to be full on hot-hatch. And it needs to be in a sector now filled with cars like the impressive MG4 XPower.

Cupra Born VZ on the road

Earlier, Cupra engineers have told us they’ve squeezed out pretty much everything from the compact MEB platform underneath, and they’ve thrown in an upgraded motor to boot. Can it live up to the XPower – or the ID.3 GTX for that matter? We’re about to find out. 

At a glance 

Pros: improved, direct steering, more feedback from the suspension, brakes more precise

Cons: More power would be nice, could be too little, too late compared to competition

What’s new? 

On the surface, there’s not much other than a VZ badge at the rear, two new colours and some cool-looking 20-inch wheels that feature a neat aero insert. You’d be forgiven for Cupra’s reluctance at changing too much outside; the original Born’s looks earned 45,300 sales last year, itself an increase of 44% on the year before. 

However, that VZ badge on the back does get a good amount extras on the technical side: there’s 40% more power under the hood, 70% more torque and a smidge more battery life than the eBoost. Cupra engineers have given the VZ an uprated suspension, anti-rollbars, along with improved brakes and steering systems to cope with the increase in power. 

What are the specs? 

Power is up 40% from X on the previous top-rated eBoost, to 240kW or 326PS on VZ. Torque is now up to a tarmac-rippling 545Nm, and yes, it’s still going through just the rear-wheels. As a result, the VZ slices one second off the 6.6 0-62mph dash of the eBoost and gets a hike in limited top speed to 124mph. The new motor is powered by a 79kWh battery, with 2Kwh more than the previous car. That 

The VZ will do 372 miles on a single charge, but when you do need to top up, it’ll do 10% to 80% capacity from a 185kW fast-charger in just 30 minutes. 

Back to the fun stuff, though, and the improved damper and suspension works with overhauled steering and braking package that aim to deliver grip, feedback and control well beyond the existing Born.

Cupra Born VZ side profile

What’s it like to drive? 

As I wind up the rust-coloured rock of formations above Barcelona, I flick the VZ straight to the full-beans Cupra mode via the steering wheel and move ESC to ESC Sport via the Born’s infotainment screen. It’s a manoeuvre that’s been committed to muscle memory ever since I ran an original eBoost Cupra Born a year or so ago – only here, above Barcelona the rewards are richer. 

Just a few miles before on the motorway I hit Cupra mode and zig-zagged on the motorway to feel just how busy the engineers have been, and the signs were good. Feedback felt more granular, the wheel more precise especially of centre. Now though I get to test it in anger. 

Cupra Born VZ Curtis driving wheel shot

Approach the first corner, turn in and the Born cuts a perfect path to the inside of the bend, with far more information arriving at my palms. If the Born gave me a HD picture of the road, this is 4K. A 911 GT3 is IMAX if you’re interested… 

On the exit I try squeezing out a touch more power than I think the VZ rubber can handle, and there’s already a squeal of tyres as the rear axle pivots sideways. It took a while to feel this comfortable in my long termer, in the VZ it’s a matter of minutes. 

Part of the confidence comes from the more precise steering and the rest from the brakes that feel far more accurate and connected than before. It’s hard to say if there’s a noticeable power difference between these and the standard ones, but at higher levels of braking they’re far more predictable

Cupra Born VZ low front shot

The standard Born’s feel inconsistent in comparison: under low pressure they’re responsive, but the moment more braking is needed – and you switch over to the disks as well as the regen – they’re nowhere near as effective as you’d expect. The power of the VZ brakes track more predictably and accurately than before. 

When combined with a stiffer ride than before, the VZ feels easier to hustle round corners and quite different from the appliance like ID.3 it shares a platform with. 

A slight issue? Cupra – like many other brands – believes that aggressive regeneration is synonymous with performance. Although you can change regeneration a little (three modes are available via paddles) in Cupra mode it feels a little too much. Sometimes feathering the throttle provides far more retardation than you’d want – and it can border on ‘clunky’ instead of ‘thoroughbred’.

What’s the interior like?

Largely the same as before, with a few neat upgrades. The Cupra VZ also benefits from a Smart Light. In practice, it’s a thin strip where the windscreen meets the interior. Its light zips to the left or right depending on where you’re supposed to turn next, and it also moves to the left or right depending on which lane you’re supposed to be in. It feels like it should be a gimmick, but it proves legitimately useful on the Barcelona streets.

Cupra Born VZ front image

The VZ gets all the semi-autonomous tech of the eBoost Born and a slightly larger 12.9-inch infotainment screen. On the motorway we use it try out a new Sennheiser-developed 10-speaker system, which sounds better than the lacklustre one on my old long-termer. 

Standard for the hottest Born are lower, Cup seats designed to put you lower and more connected. 

Before you buy

The Cupra Born VZ may be the ultimate Born right now, but it’s got a new sibling in the ID.3 GTX, which – you guessed it – is the ultimate ID.3. With that in mind, it features the same 240kW rear-mounted motor and the same 79kWh battery. We haven’t driven it yet, but Volkswagen engineers say they’ve made it more engaging too.

Cupra Born VZ ID3 GTX rival

Of course, the Born VZ must see off the standard car which offers a warm experience at least. The interior is largely the same, an although the extra power helps, the vanilla Born can still be fun to drive. You’ll miss the feel of the improved brakes and steering, though. 

Finally, there’s also the problem of the MG4 XPower, which boasts 429bhp and 443lb ft – and it hits 0-62mph in 3.8 seconds instead of the Born VZ’s 5.6

And there’s cost: expect to the VZ to be in the middle of the £40,000 – £50,000 bucket, while the XPower starts at £36,495 and the standard Born starts at £34,070. While the Born VZ features much more tech, performance premium features than either, that’s a big difference… 


In many ways the Born VZ is the car the original Born should’ve always been. Legitimate increases in performance and handling put clear water between this and the standard car, and miles between this and the ID.3. In just a few corners, there’s no mistaking this for its Volkswagen counterpart. 

Born VZ distant shot on road

It’s still heavy and can look ungainly, but confidence-inducing, better-weighted controls make it feel smaller – especially at speed. And Cupra should also be praised for not putting an engagement-sapping motor on the front axle to boost traction and overall power. 

Whether or not the increased feedback from the wheel and suspension comes with drawbacks remains to be seen: the new systems work well on Spanish mountain roads, but could they handle a cold, rainy pothole in Staines? We’ll find out when we drive it back in the UK.


Price when new: £0
On sale in the UK: Late 2024
Engine: 322bhp single electric motor, 402lb ft of torque (240kW)
Transmission: Rear-wheel drive, single-speed automatic
Performance: 5.6sec 0-62mph, 124mph, 0g/km CO2
Weight / material: 1999kg
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 4324/2070/1540mm

Photo Gallery

  • Cupra Born VZ low front shot
  • Cupra Born VZ (2024) review: the Born gets an identity
  • Cupra Born VZ side profile
  • Cupra Born VZ on the road
  • Cupra Born VZ (2024) review: the Born gets an identity
  • Cupra Born VZ (2024) review: the Born gets an identity
  • Born VZ distant shot on road
  • Cupra Born VZ Curtis driving wheel shot
  • Cupra Born VZ front image
  • Cupra Born VZ main image
  • Cupra Born VZ (2024) review: the Born gets an identity

By Curtis Moldrich

CAR's Digital Editor, F1 and sim-racing enthusiast. Partial to clever tech and sports bikes