Fully electric with a wow effect: the Cupra Born makes you want more.
What were they thinking? The first 60 kilometres on the test drive seem like a wild ride on a roller coaster. On the brakes, downhill, turn left, on the accelerator, a slight uphill, brake, turn right. The rather narrow left-right passage follows, slight ripples in the asphalt, braking, curve, accelerator, attention, zone 30 – and a semi-professional racing cyclist in oncoming traffic. The driver is shaken, his stomach rebels. But the Cupra Born seems to rejoice. It accelerates, it wants to have fun. It drives the narrow serpentines in the Serra de Collserola, the low mountain range near the Catalan metropolis of Barcelona, as if on rails. Of course, this is where the first pure electric car from the Seat subsidiary comes from. This is where its heart beats. Fully electric, dynamic and with a sporty, chic ambience.
Spanish athlete from Zwickau
Anything but boring. This was the simple yet ambitious task that Cupra’s developers and designers had to fulfil on their way to creating the first electric model of their own. A look at the details, both inside and out, reveals how passionately and meticulously they went about their task. The Born actually manages to coherently combine the pithy attributes for which the Spanish virtuosos stand with the most important features of electric mobility. Yes, it is a Cupra. Yes, it is an electric vehicle. And yes, this combination works. It is a highly exciting mixture that makes the inclined helmsman want more practically with the momentum in the driver’s seat.
The Cupra Born is a Spanish high-performance sports car made in Zwickau, where its closest relative, the VW ID.3, is also built. The Born’s technology is supplied by the MEB, the Volkswagen Group’s “modular e-drive system”. The shape and the layout are roughly reminiscent of the ID.3 – but as far as the appearance is concerned, the Cupra designers have set clear accents. The front end with its typical copper-coloured elements is flatter, the side flanks appear bulky, and the rear end with its diffuser is jagged. The Born is naturally more agile than the ID.3.
Seats made from recycled marine plastic
The Spanish electric car also exudes this sporty drive inside. Everything has that special Cupra chic, the leather steering wheel is massive, and the touchscreen is relatively large. The choice of materials is exemplary in terms of future-oriented thinking and sustainability. The seat covers are made of fibres derived from recycled marine plastic. Cupra uses recycled microfibres for the door trim and the armrests.
These seats are really something! There’s something cosy about them. Very comfortable, very pleasant. In the front, the driver and front passenger sit very comfortably with plenty of air to all sides. In the rear, things are a little more cramped, which is also due to the fact that the passengers sit relatively flat above the floor. For passengers over 1.80 metres in length, this means: keep your head down – or your hair will be flattened.
The Born manages to turn heads and catch the eye even of passers-by in Barcelona, for whom Cupra, just like the parent brand Seat, represents the only true Volkswagen in principle. Whether in the harbour, in the city centre or on the endless Avinguda Diagonal, which runs right through the metropolis: The locals are always looking at the newcomer. A Cupra? So quiet? Electric? Wow!
The Born is a reliable companion even in the traditionally hectic and demanding traffic of the metropolis. It is easy to steer, reacts promptly, even in the nervous stop-and-go at the end of the day. Parking is smooth, the fine sensors help you find your way into even the narrowest parking spaces. However, the controls on the touchscreen are a little too sensitive: If you want to adjust the volume of the entertainment system or the temperature, you’d better pull over first – and take your time. The sliders jump excitedly across the screen with every contact. You need steady fingers and a little routine. A case for the hidden camera or the depth psychologist are the electric windows, which – probably designed as an innovation – leave the driver with big question marks. Four electric windows in the Cupra Born are operated by two controls, each for opening and closing, and a larger lever for switching front/rear. Excuse me?!! Okay, we’ll forgo fresh air, and consider a semester of study at the Volkswagen Academy: Opening Windows in the Electric Age, Chapters 1 to 10.
Drei Akkus im Angebot
The Born is currently only available with a 58 kWh battery, but from March it will also be available with 45 and 77 kWh, putting 204, 150 or 231 hp on the road. The large model that we were able to drive in Barcelona is stable on the road. It accelerates directly and emphatically. According to the manufacturer, the Born accelerates from a standstill to 100 km/h in 6.9 seconds. It pushes powerfully up to about 130 km/h, fights its way up to 160, and finally it is automatically cut off, also in order to consistently save electricity. Of course, the electric Cupra also recuperates reliably. The energy can be recovered via two stages – D for normal and B for powerful.
The top model with the large battery is supposed to travel up to 420 kilometres on one charge. The battery is charged with up to 125 kW. According to Cupra, this means that in the best case, the electricity for 100 kilometres can flow in seven minutes and a battery that is at five percent will have already charged 80 percent of its cells after 35 minutes.
Booster in steering wheel
With a fully charged battery, we drive out of Barcelona, along the coast to the south. The cars become fewer, the motorway more breezy, we move forward in a relaxed manner. But then our fingers start to itch. The Born is undoubtedly particularly sporty when the right driving programme is set. There are two large buttons on the steering wheel. The one on the left can be used to switch through all the variants – from economical-defensive to full power ahead. Pressing the button on the right brings the massive boost directly to the asphalt. Yes, it can be clearly felt. Unfortunately, the traffic signs that regulate the speed put a lasting brake on the driving pleasure.
On the motorway, the E-Cupra consumes about 24 kWh per 100 kilometres – about the same as its corporate brother, the ID.3. In the city, the Born sucks up 19.5 kWh per 100 kilometres, on the highway about 18.5 kWh.
Of course, the Spanish producer also gives its customers the option of controlling the Born via mobile phone. The My Cupra application shows the status of the battery and the estimated range. There are also functions such as starting or switching off the air conditioning. Keyword smartphone: Apple Car Play and Android Auto connect easily and without cables in the Born when the mobile phone is in the inductive charging zone. Important for business travellers: The hands-free system works perfectly. The voice control also performs its services to the fullest extent.
Anything but a bourgeois
Speaking of business. The Cupra Born is an interesting alternative for self-employed people and companies who want to electrify their fleet in the long term. Image-wise, of course, it’s a question of faith. The fiery Spaniard is everything but a square. If you want to go for the colourful and lively component, active and attractive, you can put your field staff in the Born fresh, free and with a clear conscience. The driving data and the elements that are important for business are on board.
The new infotainment system from the parent company Seat seems to have been developed with a lot of strategy and is well-engineered. The small driver’s display is elegantly positioned in the field of vision and is easy to read. Another plus point is the new, very large head-up display, which actively analyses what is happening on the road in the sense of augmented reality and informs the driver accordingly – for example about potential dangers from pedestrians or other road users, accident locations or time-limited speed information.
The Cupra designers also aim to adapt the Born to the zeitgeist in terms of colour. The palette is as devoid of gaudy and pop colours as it is of the traditional black or white paintwork. The exterior colours on offer are described as restrained, modern and full of character: The Born comes in Lava Blue, Light Silver, Nevada White, Volcano Grey, Merlot Red or Moonstone Grey.
Wide price range
The Cupra is currently available for sale with a 58 kWh battery pack for 37,000 euros. After deducting the various subsidies, it can be had for a good 27,000 euros. There are various options for sprucing up the nippy compact – both visually and in terms of content. Especially the so-called “Dinamica Pack” exudes a special charm, with special fabric seats (1,710 Euros), the gleaming 20-inch alloy wheels (1,350 Euros), the Pilot-L-Pack (1,800 Euros) and the heat pump (990 Euros). By the way, the stark 3D effects on the body and inside the car are free. Exciting for business owners: In the business car leasing programme, the Born with an annual mileage of 10,000 kilometres is offered for as little as 199 euros a month.
The first all-electric Cupra is not a car for conformist brakemen. When it enters the market, it demonstrates that it is different from most of its competitors in the compact class. It’s snappier, smarter and more aggressive. It makes you want to get in, and it’s fun to drive – with clear limits on top speed, where the Born remains contemporary and serious to discreetly restrained. Speeding down the slopes at 200 km/h is not an option here. The nippy Spaniard prefers to sweep through the serpentines, the city traffic – or even along the coastal road. By the way, even the descent is pure pleasure: no start button, just put your foot on the accelerator, gearbox in D – and off you go!
Text: Armin Grasmuck