“AN electric car I’m excited to drive.”
Blimey. I don’t say those words often.
But the new EV from Seat’s sporty splinter brand, Cupra, has been on the back of my mind since it was announced.
The Cupra Born, on paper at least, tickles many of my happy spots.
It’s nippy, looks aggressive but doesn’t cost silly money.
All of Cupra’s key points, except this time they’re applied to an EV, the brand’s first.
You could say the Cupra Born is an electric hot hatch, or it is when you spec it with the right battery.
Because for all my excitement, the Born is still based on the Volkswagen ID 3 — a car that is as excellent at being practical and cheap to run as it is at being a soulless milk float where driving dreams go to be electrocuted to death.
If you spec your Born with the entry 45kWh battery, you’re basically buying a better-looking ID 3, with a 150hp motor and sleepy 8.9-seconds 0-62mph time. It’s still a very polished EV, but hot hatch it ain’t.
But the 58kWh version produces 204hp.
You can buy an ID 3 with the same shove but what it doesn’t offer is Cupra’s optional “e-boost” button which surges power to 231hp and means it does 0-62mph in 6.6 seconds.
That’s only two tenths slower than the Golf GTI.
Hot hatch EV, then.
Of course, there’s more to it than that.
The Born sits 30mm lower than the ID 3, has its own Cupra suspension setting and a variable ratio steering system that alters how fast it turns according to the driving style and roads.
Thanks to the battery being housed in the belly of the car, it also has 50:50 weight distribution and a very low centre of gravity, plus it’s rear-wheel drive — things even the best hot hatch can’t claim.
The good news is, the Born is an exciting car to drive.
It’s got the typical point-and-squirt chops that all EVs have but also feels lively in corners.
It’s light on its feet — surprising given EVs are heavy thanks to the lardy battery and motors — and when provoked the back end will kick out into oversteer.
If you don’t want to stab the accelerator mid-apex to look like a hooligan, then the Born darts from corner to corner with composure, and before you know it, you’re having fun in an electric car which isn’t made by Tesla or costs £60,000-plus.
It does the boring stuff well too.
Key facts: Cupra Born
0-62mph: 6.6 secs
Top speed: 99mph
Range: 260 miles
It’s quiet and calm around town, and even on 20in wheels, it soaks up potholes and bumpy stuff nicely.
Inside, you can spot recycled switchgear from the ID 3, which means it has those annoying haptic feedback buttons on the steering wheel.
But Cupra has worked hard to distinguish it from its drearier cousin.
There are bucket seats and plenty of textured “3D” trim coating places like the dashboard.
What else to tell you . . . oh, it has its own 12in infotainment system, which is probably because the ID 3’s system feels about as advanced as one of those Casio calculator watches from the Nineties.
The entry 45kWh model promises a range of up to 211 miles, while the 58kWh model does 260 miles.
A long-range version using a 77kWh battery has legs for 335 miles.
Finally, the Born supports 125kW charging which means you can top up 62 miles of range in just seven minutes.
That’s if you can find a rapid charger in the wild, though.
Last time I saw one of those that wasn’t already plugged into a Tesla, I saw Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder holding hands and discussing holiday plans.
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