Cupra Born, our proof: quality and fun for the Hot Hatch EV

CUPRA Born, la nostra prova: la prima compatta sportiva elettrica? thumbnail

For the city, for long journeys, technological, essential, suitable for the family. Now many electric cars have been born, and many will be born more. Today, however, we are faced with a first: CUPRA Born in fact it wants to be there first electric hot hatch. With a decidedly aggressive look, a personal interior and rear-wheel drive, the premises are all there. CUPRA has so far managed to make every car tasty and fun to drive: it will have succeeded in the magic of making the new Born the first compact sports car with batteries? Let’s find out together in this first test on the wonderful roads of Catalonia.

Born is the car of CUPRA’s consecration as an original and lifestyle brand, with a sporty taste

To understand what the new CUPRA Born is, you need to frame the brand that it proudly carries on the hood. Between the bronze color, the aggressive logo and a totally innovative marketing and distribution campaign, CUPRA only attempted to launch it 3 years ago in a market that already seemed saturated, with few certainties. However, thanks to the support of the Volkswagen Group and its sister SEAT, to successful and highly desirable models such as the excellent Formentor, the Spanish brand has achieved excellent results.

“Our goal” he told us Antonino Labate, Director of Strategy, Business Development & Operation at CUPRA, “was to create a brand that had desire to challenge the world from Barcelona, reinventing performance with the emotions of driving pleasure “. A bet on performance, emotionality and the pleasure of driving which, in 2020, did not seem to have any more space. The numbers, however, have rewarded CUPRA’s courage. Coming up to date, in 2021 the Spanish house sold over 50,000 cars in Europe, tripling the results in 2020. And there are just over two months to go until the end of the year …

The credit is undoubtedly of Formentor, the crossover of the House appreciated all over Europe, but also of a different, unconventional positioning. The dealers are real boutiques, i CUPRA Garage, places where lifestyle, automotive and modernity come together in one place. CUPRA’s goal is to satisfy today’s customers, but above all of win over the customers of a new generation. And Born is the fundamental model for this achievement. CUPRA Born aims at young people, for those who want an electric car but do not want to give up sportiness, aesthetics and driving pleasure. Born is there SEAT Group’s first electric car, but it will also be there first car of the Spanish Group to approach new non-European markets. Born will indeed arrive in Australia in 2022, to then expand to other Asian markets.

From the outside, the base ID. is well disguised: live CUPRA Born convinces and impresses

And he will do it with aaesthetics that do not go unnoticed. From the outside, in fact, CUPRA Born is not easily identifiable. It is not a classic compact due to the high roof, but it is not a crossover, much less an SUV. The high roofline and proportions are reminiscent of the starting model, namely Volkswagen ID.3, but live the impression is definitely different. The frontTo begin with, thanks to the pointed front bumper it appears less short and “flattened” than that of the ID.3. The slim and sporty headlights, combined with the House logo, the front CUPRA lettering and the lower whisker, obviously in bronze, give the Born front a very dynamic appearance.

On the side, the high roof is well masked by the contrast paintwork when present, and compared to the VW ID.3 cousin the roof line has a ‘more descending gait, making the whole much more aggressive. Behind there are also the full width LED headlights, distinctive signature of CUPRA, which increase the car’s sense of width. And in fact the dimensions are very respectable: 4.32 m in length (6 cm more than ID.3), 1.81 in width and height of 1.54 meters. The rear bumper, which spans the entire width of the car, is embellished with a diffuser and molding in Quasar Gray.

CUPRA-Born-lights

On the version we tested, painted in this splendid shade of gray, it was hardly noticeable, creating a nice uniformity of the lines. On the Aurora Blue versions, the launch color, and especially on the standard White or Vapor Gray, this part is perhaps a little too evident. Overall, however, CUPRA Born is a car that, from the photos, performs much less than live, where it impresses and convinces a lot. The similarities with the more peaceful ID.3, although visible with attention, are very well masked behind a car that catches the attention. Many (including policemen) turned around and asked for information about her, appreciating her design: the simplest and most immediate of consumer feedback.

The union of quality, care and respect for the environment: the interiors of CUPRA Born amaze

Seen from the outside, CUPRA Born looks like anything but a car capable of offering space, tranquility, peace inside. And it is inside that, in my opinion, the Spanish electric amazes the most. First, the space is really abundant. Thanks to the MEB platform of the Wolkswagen Group, which carries the battery pack under the floor, rear-wheel drive and other devices, it is able to maximize interior space. In front even those who are very tall are really comfortable. The trunk, instead, is from 385 liters, identical to that of ID.3 and 5 liters larger than that of SEAT and CUPRA Leòn. Behind, however, although there is really a lot of space for the legs, at the levels of an Ateca to stay indoors, the descending roofline can give some annoyance to those who are taller than 1.80 m.

But it is perhaps one of the few negative sides of an interior that pleases everyone a little. I appreciated theexcellent forward visibility thanks to a large glazing, and even behind by 2021 standards it can be seen quite well. CUPRA then chose to use recycled and sustainable materials. The mats are made of Econyl, recycled Nylon, while the seats can be upholstered in Seaqual Yarn fabric, made from marine plastic waste, or in Dynamica, a suede made entirely from recycled plastic. Our Born was equipped with manual entry seats in Seaqual fabric and details in Dynamica, and the effect was really fulfilling. And this is in fact the watchword of this interior. In fact, despite the steering wheel, the digital instrument panel and most of the components are the same as the ID.3, indeed, inside, CUPRA Born amazes for a level of quality far superior to its German cousin.

The dashboard features different materials and different levels. The air vents and the lower part of the dashboard are embellished with a contrasting color strip Copper, bronze, typical CUPRA color. Beautiful then the silver molding with triangular motifs, and above this we find one soft plastic band which raises the perceived quality of the passenger compartment. Likewise, the infotainment screen is 12-inch standard, and is included with the instrument panel in a third level that is pleasant to the touch and features contrasting stitching. The minimalism of many electric cars leaves room for a warm, welcoming and pleasant interior, from the door panel to the central tunnel, huge and full of storage spaces. Inside CUPRA Born the environment is relaxing, cared for and warm, much more welcoming than the minimalist cockpits of many rivals.

The infotaiment and on-board technology: excellent mirroring and audio, less ergonomics of the controls

Since we are inside, before talking about mechanics and driving, let’s discuss a moment about the technology that equips CUPRA Born. As mentioned, the infotaiment screen measures 12 inches, and is identical to that of CUPRA Formentor. It is therefore a excellent quality panel, very easy to see while driving and equipped with a well-made standard stereo system. Where it flaws, however, is in the experience of use. As seen on other Volkswagen Group products, in fact, the VAG Group operating system is a bit slow and bizarre to use.

SEAT and CUPRA have customized the user experience and, with a different layout of the menus, they obviate the problem of system confusion a little. Unfortunately, however, the logic of use remains a bit too complicated to, for example, change driving modes, or to see average or instantaneous consumption. Not even the digital instrument cluster, just over 5 inches. In normal driving it is perfect and gives all the essential information, but if you want some more information you have to go through the central screen. If you choose a Born e-Boost, however, the driving modes will not be a problem. The sportier versions are in fact equipped with two physical buttons on the steering wheel that allow you to select driving modes with a touch, or the sportier CUPRA. Quick and easy, it should be standard on all Born!

I comandi soft touch scattered around the cockpit, however, are really frustrating. Not so much the ones on the steering wheel, which thanks to haptic feedback make you understand what you are doing, e compared to other models of the Group on Born it is more difficult to accidentally press a few buttons. Complications come from climate and volume slider: they are not backlit in the dark, and are difficult to use while driving. Thankfully though, voice commands work well for these solutions, becoming the preferred way to increase fan speed or regulate climate temperature. CUPRA Born, however, makes up for the interests by giving an excellent experience with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay: lightning fast, wireless and full screen. In 2021 everyone now mainly uses these systems: the slowdowns of the stock system, at this point, are more principled than really limiting.

CUPRA Born is the most powerful rear-wheel drive electric of the Group: up to 231 HP and 540 km of autonomy

Before driving our CUPRA Born, it is good to mention the mechanics and the technical solutions, essential to understand its true potential. The Spanish electric is made on the MEB modular platform of the Volkswagen Group, the same as the latest electric cars of the VW, Audi and Skoda brands. Born is in fact built in the same factory as ID.3, Enyaq, Q4 e-tron and so on: it is the jewel of Zwickau, the Group’s zero-footprint factory.

It is a mechanical base specially designed for electric vehicles, and provides the battery compartment under the floor and, above all, the traction…