Cupra Born review (2023) – Born to be wild

The ID.3 is ready for Halloween

A new Cupra is Born“. That’s the sweet message that can be read on some of the brochures presenting its protected majesty. However, far from wanting to be a killjoy, the new Cupra is a bit of an exaggeration. If the Formentor is indeed a unique model and the Leon and Ateca are derived from Seat, the Born is more of a betrayal by leaving the family mould. Has Cupra taken the easy way out by using the Volkswagen ID.3 as the basis for its first electric car? If the experts could talk about the similarities between the Spanish and the German, for the layman, this technical jabbering is nothing but nonsense. Right or wrong? Let’s take a look at the contents of this package to find out.

A hot-blooded electric hatch

It’s been three years it’s been waiting for this. Here it is, finally, in the dealerships, ready to cut the teeth of its blood sister. The Born shamelessly borrows the ID.3’s underpinnings and technically speaking, it’s a case of Tweedledum and Tweedledee, give or take a few. But from the outside, the smart one is the one who will be able to see the similarity between the two models because the camouflage operation is a success. It’s quite simple, when the ID.3 is characterized by its jovial and almost childish toy-like side, the Born opposes it with a rebellious adolescent attitude. Its gaping mouth with triangular spikes gives it an angry face. The bronze-coloured blade and chiselled headlights also add a fiery and, it has to be said, slightly provocative [euphemism] touch. And from the side, the Born continues its demonstration with competition-style side skirts and 20-inch wheels with copper accents. Let’s finish with the rear, where the car adds to its biting character with an imposing spoiler accompanied by a conspicuous diffuser [another euphemism]. The more pragmatic will say that there are no more than cheap looking car mods. I’m sorry to disappoint them, but they’re way out of line. Asking a Cupra to be discreet, I think you’ll have understood, is like having respect for Kim Kardashian: it’s a big no.

“A fresh look for the dashboard, it feels good”

And the trickery continues on board! The plastic and friendly spirit of the ID.3 gives way to a plusher interior with a sporty presentation. As a result, the colourful – abracadabric – eccentric (delete as appropriate) colours used by the Volkswagen are fatally replaced by the black/bronze duo. Aluminium and Alcantara also make their appearance and enhance the overall look, as do the copper stitching on the dashboard. Also, bucket seats come as standard and can accommodate a heated and massaging function. In the rear, space is ample and the seats support the thighs well, but it’s hard plastic everywhere. Boot space is good at 385 litres. Back to the front, where the layout of the dashboard once again takes a sporty turn. The C4 Picasso-style storage between the front seats disappears in favour of a high central console that quickly separates the front occupants. The touch screen measures 12 inches instead of 10 in the ID.3, while the digital instrument cluster is located on the steering column. Classy? Not necessarily. Modern? Definitely. And it fits perfectly with the spirit that Cupra is aiming for. Let’s move on to the ergonomics, because the story here takes a bit of a sour turn.

The tricky subject of sensitive buttons

Yes, sensitive buttons in the Born is a wonderful example of life’s great inevitability. Steering wheel buttons, ventilation and lighting controls, dome light, infotainment and rear window controls – almost everything is controlled by a simple touch. And that’s where the problem lies. Each time, you hope that the cruise control will wisely keep the requested speed, safe from the palm of your hand, which will however, fatally, cruelly, because it is its destiny, modify the speed of the vehicle. Setting your speed with reasonable elegance and dignity becomes impossible. Sweaty hands, trembling palms or greasy fingers, imperishable memories of your last kebab (with mayonnaise sauce because you like to hurt yourself) and bang, it’s a misunderstanding! The best part is the rear windows where you have to activate the “Rear” button before you can lower them. Absurd! And it’s not just Cupra’s fault, as these symptoms are shared with the Volkswagen ID.3, ID.4 and ID.5, but curiously not with the Skoda Enyaq iV, which cleverly avoids this pitfall. On the infotainment side, however, it’s not bad. If the ergonomics of the menus are not a model of the genre, the fluidity of the display is good and the graphics are correct.

“Not as sporty as it looks, but still pleasant to drive”

In the Cupra Born, the key is you! All you have to do is sit in the driver’s seat and press the brake to get the Spanish car moving. The Born may have German genes, but it’s still hot-blooded. Select the Performance mode and press the accelerator hard…not bad! If 0-60 is announced in 7,3 s, it is especially the acceleration at low speed that is striking. On the road, the damping comfort is satisfactory even if the ride is occasionally bumpy at the rear, especially in town. The Born has indeed tightened up its suspension to discretely surpass the ID.3 in terms of road holding. And you can feel it! The car is a little more dexterous when taking curves. On the motorway, however, it suffers the same fate as its German cousin, with a range of around 140 to 160 mi (230 to 260 km) with an 80% charged battery. Its consumption on the fast lane is contained (18.7 kWh/100 km) but the maximum charging power remains modest (130 kW). This is a pity because the soundproofing appears to be correct. In the city, the picture is quite different as the Born is more agile with an excellent turning radius, a short bonnet and split windscreen pillars for comfortable visibility. And if you’re not very good at parking, the Born will automatically brake if you get too close to an obstacle. In short, a real mother hen that puts all your worries in the background of life!

It offers a little more than the ID.3

Available from €43,800, the Cupra Born enters a category that is slowly but surely growing. Our test model retails for €46,070 and is relatively well equipped with adaptive cruise control, LED lights, hands-free entry and start, rear view camera and heated steering wheel as standard. The Volkswagen ID.3 Pro Performance Active (€44,990, 58 kWh, 204 PS) has similar technology but less equipment. On the French side, the Renault Mégane E-Tech Electric Techno (€44,300, 60 kWh, 220 PS) is better made but less livable. At Citroën, the ëC4 Shine Pack (€41,150, 50 kWh, 136 PS) is both more affordable and more comfortable, but its performance is less impressive. As for the MG4 (around €34,000, 64 kWh, 204 PS), it is, on paper, the best car in terms of price, equipment and performance. It can therefore legitimately give all the competition a very hard time. Without revolutionizing the genre, the Cupra Born is a credible alternative to the ID.3 for those who want to change their IDs (Editor’s note: I won’t make this kind of joke anymore, I promise).

Strengths

  • Neat styling
  • Generous interior space
  • Excellent manoeuvrability

Weaknesses

  • Satanic ergonomics
  • Uneven quality of the trim
  • Limited charging power

Verdict: 14.9/20 – Good

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