2023 Cupra Born review: Is this EV hatch more Volkswagen Golf GTI or Tesla Model 3?

2023 Cupra Born EV

Toby Hagon

Posted June 05, 2023

The Cupra Born is the first electric car from the fledgling Spanish brand, which is part of the Volkswagen Group. The Cupra Born borrows key components from soon-to-arrive electric vehicles such as the Volkswagen ID.3.

But as with the rest of the brand, the Born has a sportier focus. Cupra is pitching the Born as an EV antidote to the petrol-powered hot hatches on the market such as the Volkswagen Golf GTi. The compact five-door promises electric driving excitement and more than 500km of driving range between charges.

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The 2023 Cupra Born has a sporty focus. Image: Supplied.
The Cupra Born looks sleek and sporty on the road. Image: Supplied
The Cupra Born's branding is big and bold. Image: Supplied

Cupra Born pricing and features

The Cupra Born is priced from $59,990 before on-road costs. There’s no haggling over prices because, like Tesla, you’re not buying from a dealer but directly from head office.

Standard equipment for the Cupra Born includes 19-inch wheels, wireless phone charging, smart key entry, interior ambient lighting, 360-degree camera, tyre pressure monitors, 5.3-inch digital instrument cluster and a 12-inch central infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The Performance pack adds $2600 but brings larger 20-inches wheels, albeit without the copper highlights that are a signature of the brand. There are also adjustable dampers.

Those wanting to spritz up the Cupra Born’s cabin can go for the $2900 Interior pack that adds electrically adjustable front seats with massagers and heating as well as a modern-looking Dinamica trim material. Plus, there’s a nine-speaker Beats sound system.

There’s no spare wheel and the Born also doesn’t get a charger, with Cupra instead supplying a Type 2 to Type 2 cable, which can be connected to most AC chargers, whether at home or in public.

There’s no direct competitor to the Cupra Born but those seeking out an EV will naturally compare it to the similarly priced Tesla Model 3. Given its hot hatch focus however, the Cupra Born could also snare interest from those considering a Volkswagen Golf GTI or Hyundai i30 N.


2023 Cupra Born EV driving on rural road

The Cupra Born is priced from $59,990. Image: Supplied.


Cupra Born safety equipment

The Cupra Born gets airbags all around as well as a healthy list of active safety systems. That includes autonomous emergency braking (AEB), blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, side assist with exit warning and lane keep assistance. Plus, it keeps an eye on driver attentiveness and has a 360-degree camera to help with low-speed manoeuvring.

One omission is a speed limit display, something now common across mainstream brands.

The Cupra Born scored a five-star ANCAP rating when tested to the 2022 protocols.


Cupra Born screen displaying safety features

The Cupra Born has several nifty driver safety features. Image: Supplied


Cupra Born interiors and design

The Cupra Born is about the size of a Toyota Corolla on the outside but there’s more space inside courtesy of its ground-up EV design, which allows batteries and the electric motor to be ideally located.

Even in the rear of the Cupra Born, there is generous foot and leg space, although head room will be tested for tall people. Similarly, three across the rear seat would be a pinch, especially for generously proportioned adults. The Cupra Born has seating for five but those in the centre seat will be cosy. The Performance and Interior packs both reduce the seating capacity to four, with the centre rear seat instead replaced with a storage binnacle.

Up front, there’s no issue with space and there’s also decent storage options for odds and ends.

It’s all nicely presented, too, with classy finishes, even in the regular model with its modern (many recycled) materials. The carbon fibre-look steering wheel and trim touches are a nice addition, as are the copper-coloured highlights.

The tiny digital instrument cluster gives key information while the larger central screen has a more vibrant display. But it can be frustrating to operate, with some basic functions – including for various ventilation functions – requiring multiple presses of the screen. And the slider control for the volume is also inferior to a dial.

We also found ourselves inadvertently grazing the sensitive touch buttons on the steering wheel when wrestling through corners. The associated beep and notification on the screen can get tiresome.


The Cupra Born has a sizable infotainment display. Image: Supplied
There's plenty of boot room in the Cupra Born. Image: Supplied
Ambiance is big in the Cupra Born. Image: Supplied
The Cupra Born's cabin is truly luxe looking. Image: Supplied

Cupra Born battery power, charging and efficiency

The Cupra Born gets a 77kWh battery that provides up to 511km of range. We found the car estimating close to that when we first jump aboard. But as the mostly country kilometres disappeared into the rear vision mirror it was apparent it wasn’t going to go quite that far.

Still, it should be very easy to get upwards of 400km range in the Cupra Born, and possibly closer to 450km around town. Knock a fraction off that with the Performance pack model due to its stickier tyres that are compromised on efficiency.

Electricity use is officially claimed at 17.0kWh per 100km, or 18.2kWh/100km on the bigger wheels. Again, that trails the most efficient of the EVs, but it’s still decent.

Charging can be done at up to 11kW on a home charging station, which would mean a full charge in around eight hours. A single-phase 7.4kW home charging station would be more like 11 hours – or 40-odd hours from a home power point.

Charging at a public DC charger can be done at up to 170kW, something claimed to increase the battery state from 10 to 80 per cent in 34 minutes.


Charging information is displayed on the Cupra Born's infotainment screen. Image: Supplied
Charging is quick and easy for the Cupra Born. Image: Supplied

Cupra Born performance and handling

It’s all about the driving fun factor in the Cupra Born, something that starts with where it sends the power. Most hatchbacks divert the drive to the front wheels but the Cupra Born has more of a performance focus by sending it to the rear wheels.

There’s decent outright power, with the 170kW/310Nm peak output akin to that of some hot hatches.

However, the Born weighs a nuggety 1927kg, something that dulls acceleration slightly.

The claim to reach 100km/h is 7.0 seconds, which feels about right. It’s more impressive when you first take off, at which point the generous pulling power is easily accessible. But even at freeway speeds there’s plenty in reserve for a snappy overtake.

On the regular 19-inch wheels, it’s easy to reach the limits of adhesion if you drive it like a hot hatchback. At least it’s comfy and well behaved however, making for easy daily touring.

The 20-inch wheels and adjustable dampers of the Performance pack transform the car into something far more enjoyable for drivers looking for sporty handling. As well as noticeably more mid-corner traction, there’s better body control over bumps once you choose the sportier Cupra Born mode that firms the dampers. It makes for a slick and enjoyable hatchback, although on outright pace it may not send the current hot hatch crop scurrying.

All of which adds up to an enjoyable and practical hatchback that’s more fun and warm than sizzling.


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