Cupra Born First Drive

Cupra Born First Drive: The VW Group’s First EV for Australia is a Promising Start

The Cupra Born introduces the brand’s first fully electric vehicle in Australia and serves as the inaugural model built upon the Volkswagen Group’s Modular Electric Drive matrix (MEB) platform.

The MEB platform, which also underpins Volkswagen’s ID electric car range, Skoda’s Enyaq iV, and the Audi Q4 e-tron, is yet to make its presence in Australia, with these models not expected until 2024.

The Born has exhibited promising sales performance, with 86 units sold in July, ranking it as the 7th best-selling EV of the month. Priced at $59,990 before on-road costs, it qualifies for state EV rebates while positioning itself above the budget-friendly EV options like the MG4, BYD Dolphin, and GWM Ora.

Cupra Born First Drive
Cupra Born First Drive

Cupra offers the Born with an 82 kWh (77 kWh usable) battery pack that offers a base WLTP driving range of up to 511 km. Opting for the Performance Pack ($2600) trims the range slightly to 475 km but equips the vehicle with Dynamic Chassis Control, larger 20-inch wheels, and wider tires.

An Interior Package ($2900) is also available, adding heated massage seats in the front, microfleece seat material, and an enhanced sound system. However, selecting either package results in the removal of the middle rear seat, turning it into a 4-seater. DC fast charging is available up to 170 kW, while AC charging can reach up to 11 kW via 3-phase power or 7 kW on single phase.

Booking a Cupra Born test drive differs from other brands, as potential drivers need to request a test drive and await contact from a Cupra Specialist who gauges interest through qualifying questions before scheduling an appointment. Cupra Garages offer a comfortable atmosphere with displayed cars and merchandise, along with relaxation spaces for waiting customers.

The Born boasts an appealing exterior, highlighted by its distinctive front end and Cupra’s copper accents. Despite its aesthetics, practicality is not its strong suit, with a relatively compact 385L boot and no functional frunk. The cabin’s interior presents a premium feel, featuring copper highlights, ample cup holders, and console storage. However, the backseat view is somewhat limited by sizeable bucket seats, posing potential restrictions for adults or taller passengers.

On the road, the Born’s 170 kW and 310 Nm single motor rear-wheel drive setup imparts an exhilarating and sporty experience, distinct from most front-wheel drive EVs. Driving modes include Eco, Sport, and Cupra, though differences among them were not significant during the test drive. The suspension delivers a well-balanced ride on uneven roads and speed bumps, providing a comfortable yet controlled experience. While the steering feels direct, the suburban test drive limited the opportunity for extensive cornering evaluation.

The Born presents certain unique features and idiosyncrasies. Notably, creep mode cannot be deactivated, contrary to the trend of one-pedal driving in other EVs. Moreover, due to technical constraints, the Australian models lack built-in satellite navigation and automatic trip planning with charging stops. Wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are supported, although the necessity to connect one’s phone before each drive may become cumbersome. The capacitive swipe buttons on the steering wheel and dash have been widely criticized for their counterintuitive and challenging nature, a sentiment affirmed during the test drive. In acknowledgment of these design oversights, VW’s CEO admitted the mistakes and promised software and hardware solutions.

In summary, the Cupra Born offers compelling design and driving dynamics, making it an attractive choice for potential buyers. However, the recent introduction of sub-$40,000 EVs, particularly the sporty-feeling MG4, might impact the Born’s market share. To appeal to budget-conscious consumers, Cupra might consider introducing the smaller 58 kWh battery version available internationally. If the connectivity and infotainment issues prove to be deal-breakers, waiting for subsequent model years with improvements may be a prudent choice.

Key features and specifications for the Cupra Born are below:

Here’s the information presented in a table format for better readability:

Price$59,990 plus on-road costs
Optional Packages– Performance Package: $2600
– Interior Package: $2900
Aurora Blue metallic paint$475
Battery size82kWh gross, 77kWh usable
Range511km WLTP
475km with Performance Package
Power / Torque170kW / 310Nm
Charging Speed– 170kW DC
– 11kW AC
Charging SocketCCS2 combo
Service Interval15,000km / 12 months
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