Can a French wagon be as comfortable in the heart of the outback as it is in the city?Read more…
We're at an automotive turning point, where the thunderous growl of petrol engines is slowly being replaced by the quiet hum of electric motors.
A significant part of what car enthusiasts will miss in this electric transition is the hot hatch experience. That compact bundle of joy, equipped with a peppy petrol engine, has been a beloved symbol of accessible performance for generations.
The grumble of the exhaust, the tactile feel of the gearshift, the exciting tug of a turbocharger – they've been the music to the ears of many a car lover.
Will the exhilarating jolt of a Volkswagen Golf GTI or the raw grunt of a Ford Focus ST become nothing more than a memory?
Perhaps not, as the arrival of the CUPRA Born paints a promising picture of an electric hot hatch future.
This isn't just any electric car.
And while it may not stir the soul with the roar of a combustion engine, it seeks to win hearts in a different way – by showing us that an electric future can be just as thrilling, just as fun, and just as worthy of our admiration.
How much does the CUPRA Born cost?
Kicking off at $62,490, the Born doesn't strut into the playground boasting the biggest muscles or the fastest footwork. Hyundai have just announced the Ioniq 5 for that while Kia have the blisteringly fast EV 6 GT.
How does the CUPRA Born perform?
Claiming a driving range of 511km, this Spaniard has prioritised longevity on the pitch over being a showboating sprinter.
It comes equipped with a rather sprightly 170kW power output and a twisting force of 310Nm, numbers not too distant from the likes of the revered Golf GTI.
However, where the GTI manages to sprint from a standstill to 100km/h in a fairly brisk 6.2 seconds, the Born is left in the rearview mirror, registering a 0-100km/h time of 7 seconds.
This isn't a damning indictment, though.
We must remember that the Born tips the scales at nearly 2-tonnes, almost 400kg heavier than its Volkswagen Golf cousin, thanks to the hefty battery it's lugging around.
For further context, the Hyundai i30N shaves off some precious time, doing the 0-100km/h dash in 5.3 seconds.
Regardless of its heftier sprinting time, there's a real spark of potential in the Born. If the future beholds a lighter or sprightlier model, we might find ourselves looking at a truly fun, rear-wheel-drive pocket rocket.
What's the CUPRA Born like inside?
Inside the Born you're greeted with a minimalist and inviting interior. A large 12-inch infotainment screen dominates the cockpit, offering wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It's tilted towards the driver, for that sporty, cockpit feel too.
The driver's display is on the petite side at 5-inches, but it punches above its weight in terms of functionality and sporty vibes. Plus, it moves with the wheel, reminiscent of high-performance race cars.
Our test model came loaded with the interior package. An extra $2,900 gets you:
- Heated and massaging seats
- 12-way electrical adjustment
- A Beats sound system, with 9 speakers dotted around the cabin and a subwoofer.
The quiet EV ride becomes a concert hall on wheels.
The boot space stands at a robust 385 litres, mirroring the storage capacities of the CUPRA Leon and VW Golf.
Regrettably though, in the Australian model, you'll be missing out on the fixed panoramic roof and the augmented reality head-up display – still not a deal breaker though.
As if that weren't enough, we also enjoyed the perks of the performance package inside, a $2,600 addition that brings in 20-inch black/silver firestorm alloy wheels, dynamic chassis control, Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres, and a sporty 4x4 configuration inside.
How does the CUPRA Born drive?
Where it genuinely excels is in the steering department. The wheel feels satisfyingly firm in your grasp, translating every twist and turn with a gratifying sense of accuracy. It strikes a delicate balance between giving you enough feedback without feeling excessively stiff, making it equally suited for spirited drives or laid-back cruises.
The tranquility inside the cabin, though, is something worth talking about too. There's an almost Zen-like calm as the Born glides on the road, with only a faint hum of the electric motor for company. It's an entirely different orchestra compared to the roaring symphonies of the combustion-engined hot hatches, but one that has its unique charm.
Comfort, too, doesn't take a backseat in the Born. Despite straddling on sizeable 20-inch alloys - which usually tend to compromise ride quality - the Born delivers a surprisingly smooth ride. Much of this can be credited to the dynamic chassis control that does a commendable job of ironing out most surface imperfections. You might feel the occasional jolt when encountering larger potholes or rough patches, but overall, the Born offers an impressively composed ride, especially given the limited sidewall of its tyres.
For those uninitiated into the electric car realm, the predictable acceleration and sensible speed of the Born make it an excellent gateway.
The final verdict on the 2023 CUPRA Born
The CUPRA Born might not be the swiftest, lightest or even the most feature-packed electric car on the market today. But it makes a compelling argument as a potential hot hatch of the future. With some weight-shedding and a performance boost, it could very well blaze a trail for others to follow in the electrifying world of tomorrow's motoring.
Its driving range is admirable, making it a practical choice for daily commutes, while its 170kW power output provides enough thrill for those seeking some spirited driving. Though it might not fully recapture the visceral thrill of traditional hot hatches, the Born makes a compelling case for the future of the electric hot hatch.
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