Cupra’s dynamic new EV is born and tries to be different
I’m sure you’ve read or heard about Volkswagen Group’s MEB platform. It’s the base for a spate of electric cars from the auto giant. Hardly a week goes by without it being mentioned in support of something.
It’s important to remember because it shows how electrification has impacted car use around the world.
It can add dimensions to one model and still accommodate shorter ones on another. Flexibility is everything.
This week, the new electric five-seater Cupra Born benefits from the adaptability of the underbody. Cupra used to be an offshoot of Seat, which is known to belong to Volkswagen.
It’s a bit too simplistic to say that it’s basically a Volkswagen ID.3 in disguise mode.
There’s a lot going on, particularly in the design where they’ve worked out a few beauty spots front and back, and they’ve put a lot of effort into the suspension.
The work to make this as eye-catching as possible was well worth it – and yes, it was a little different to drive than the Volkswagen, although it wasn’t really anything big.
It looked great in the parking lot, with its bronzed inlaid motif pulled through from the outside to a really sleek, compact but roomy interior.
Cabin space benefits from the flat floor as the electric motor sits above the rear axle and the battery is between the axles.
This enables a good use of space for a rear-drive tailgate with a length of 4,322 mm, a width of 1,809 mm, a height of 1,540 mm and a wheelbase of 2,767 mm.
When it originally launched, they said they wanted to shake up the mid-size EV market. I don’t know if that’s the case or not because there are a lot of nice looking electric vehicles out there. But it definitely impressed me and shows how much variation on a theme can be manifested with countless little touches.
Since the Cupra is based on the MEB platform, it can use the range of technology available with it.
One area I often overlook in cars these days is the many techie assistance systems. It’s just that they might be taken for granted.
The Born had Predictive Adaptive Cruise Control, Travel Assist, Side and Exit Assist, Traffic Sign Recognition, Emergency Assist and Pre-Crash Assist. All commendable and noteworthy in their own way.
And so to the most important, non-visual differences between it and the ID.3: handling and driving behavior.
A nice sweep through some winding Wicklow and Wexford roads – summery in rural mildness – there was evidence that the sports suspension and 20-inch wheels added a sort of dynamic dimension.
The suspension lowers the ride height of the vehicle by 15mm at the front and 10mm at the rear.
You could say it was sweet to drive.
It wasn’t hair-raising or panting, and it didn’t attempt to do anything but respond politely to my driving instructions.
But I liked the good sense of road feel through the steering wheel and a pliable touch with sudden changes of direction. I had the 58kWh battery version and with 204hp available I didn’t spare the horses.
I didn’t feel like lowering the battery performance by 60 percent. And no, I didn’t put the advertised range of 417km to the test. I’m finally starting to study.
The ride had a firmness, but it didn’t rattle or shake when it came to speed ramps or chunks of poor road surface.
Acceleration to 100 km/h takes a respectable 7.3 seconds.
Two points of criticism: It has the gearbox binnacle of the ID.3 on board.
That means I feel like getting drive or reverse mode is counterintuitive anyway. I said it before for the ID.3, so it’s only fair that I say it again for the Born.
It also cried out for paddle shifters on the steering wheel so I could use the system more effectively when decelerating. That would have allowed me more discretion in generating energy.
So would I buy it? You know I think I could do it. I was really impressed with how chic it looked in the first place.
The ID.3 is probably more of a mainstream buy, but if you want a bit of flair in your EV then the Born is definitely worth a look.