ROAD TEST: 2023 Cupra Born review

Cupra Born

What is it?

A really quiet, high performance, electric hot-hatch.

In Australia, there’s generally nothing unfamiliar that drives past us on our daily commute, so when you spot something out of the ordinary, it’s quite a thrill. Cupra landed in Australia only a year ago from Barcelona, so there is a good chance you haven’t seen too many rolling around, but you will know when you do. The Cupra badge’s copper highlights are instantly recognisable and create cut-through in a market saturated by silver emblems.

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Their concept is provocative, gender-neutral and unapologetic. At the Cupra launch I attended, the team was clear that this is not the car for everyone, so take it or leave it. How refreshing not to have a sale shoved down your throat…

The Born refrains from the standard sterile EV style and design approach, bursting with personality and emotion. There is a lot to like about this rear-wheel drive electric pocket rocket.

Does it have any racing pedigree?

Cupra is heavily involved in motorsport to push its performance image

Performance is a key pillar for Cupra, and they have identified that EV is the future of racing.

The brand is currently competing in Extreme E – the 100% electric off-road world championship where drivers compete in locations battling climate change, selecting four-time Dakar Rally winner Nassar Al-Attiyah and the first and only woman to win the Dakar, Jutta Kleinschmidt as their drivers. They continue their Extreme E campaign in season three with a slightly different driver lineup and a fierce effort to prove they are World championship contenders.

They also feature heavily in the FIA ETCR – Electric Touring Car Racing. Cupra E-Racer drivers dominated the championship, filled the podium and became the first ETCR champions in 2022.

A Cupra Leon has also just joined the TCR Australia series.

What’s under the bonnet?

Cupra Born

A big, fat, flat slab of lithium-ion battery, located not under the bonnet but under the car at the lowest possible point, spread between the four wheels for better handling and balance. It has a lithium-ion battery with a useable 77kWh capacity, and a rear-mounted electric motor that produces 170kW of power and 310Nm of torque.

READ MORE: Cupra’s plans for Australian expansion

The 0-100km/h time is rated at 7.0 seconds, which isn’t super-rapid for an EV but is only slightly slower than the petrol-powered Volkswagen Golf GTI.

Impressively, Cupra claims the Born has a driving range of more than 500km on a single charge.

How does it handle?

Cupra Born

Our short and sweet car test was through the urban streets of Canberra so I wouldn’t say we could spread our wings, but acceleration, braking and cornering all felt nimble, dynamic and safe.

Comfort on the road and in the car was of a high standard, it’s a playful spritely sensation driving the Born. Eerily quiet, though, you must remind yourself that the sound does not match the speed.. or the demerit points.

Where would you most like to drive it?

The Born would be my daily commuter car. However, Iit would be rude not to take it for a regular weekend fang but keep in mind where you are taking off to, if overnight – you will need a charger. Chargers are far more accessible these days as EVs become more of the norm.

What’s the interior like?

Cupra Born

The commitment to innovation, sustainability and environmentally conscious design is impressive. Cupra has partnered with the Seaquel Initiative to use plastics removed from the ocean and recycled to create their sporty, slick bucket seats.

The interface is large and user-friendly, and the multifunction steering wheel looks fast and mean. It’s dynamic in materials and features its Cupra’s large copper logo, which I don’t mind staring at. A slim LED light runs along the interior of the doors changing colour, giving the cockpit a space-aged feel or perhaps a Euro rave vibe. Both of which I enjoy.

It’s surprisingly spacious inside, including the back passenger seats. At 180cm (5’11), I wasn’t folded up like a pretzel, so it gets my long-legged tick of approval.

How much does the Cupra Born cost?

The Born starts at $59,990 (plus on-road costs) but the brand is offering drive-away pricing in each state. Be sure to check your state’s initiatives for EVs, as decent discounts can apply. There are two upgrade options – a performance pack $2600, and an interior pack for $2900.

Cupra Born

Would I buy one?

If you want to buck the trend, enjoy electric power and are willing to field questions about your unique new wheels, then go for gold (or copper). It has an approachable price point for an EV that delivers on value, style, sustainability and performance.

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