From afar, you might mistake the Cupra Born for the Volkswagen ID.3. However, up close, you will notice that this small, electric hot hatch offers a lot more Spanish flair and exuberance than its plain, German counterpart.
Although there are similarities, the Cupra Born is billed as the sportier version to the ID.3, offering a more distinctive design and an improved driving experience – But is that actually the case?
Keep on reading to find out our final verdict on the Cupra Born!
What does it look like?
Well, pretty much exactly like the Volkswagen ID.3.
It is almost exactly the same size and shape, but there are a few subtle differences to help you distinguish one from the other.
At the back, the Cupra Born features a slightly bigger spoiler with a deep overhang over the rear windscreen and a full lightbar, as opposed to the ID.3’s more traditional rear light setup.
There are similar designs on the cars C-pillar, with a metallic-effect block pattern that has been ever-so-subtly reimagined from the ID.3. Although the dimensions of the car are the same, the creases on the side of the Cupra feel much sharper than the Volkswagen, which helps to give the car a more aggressive, sportier appearance.
The front of the Cupra Born is where the biggest differences can be seen. With a slightly bigger grille, a more angular bonnet and copper detailing splashed around the bumper, the whole aesthetic of the Cupra is more much menacing than the soft, bubbly design of the ID.3. It looks angry, which is exactly what you want from a car that has been specifically designed, engineered and manufactured as a sportier version to the family-friendly ID.3.
Is it actually sportier than the ID.3?
Well, it would be pretty disappointing if it wasn’t. The Cupra Born V3 we tested comes with a 58kWh battery which pumps out 230bhp and delivers a range of 270 miles officially.
A 77kWh 230PS e-Boost V3 model is available, which will offer a range of up to 340 miles and offer a performance package of 228bhp and a 0-60mph time of seven seconds.
Compared to the ID.3’s top-of-the-line specification – the ID.3 Tour Pro S – the Cupra is sportier, but ony just. The ID.3 also features a 77kWh battery but can only deliver 201bhp and achieve a 0-60 time of 7.9 seconds.
Of course, facts and figures only tell you so much, so what is it like to drive?
The Volkswagen ID.3 has never been particularly exhilarating to drive, even when you go up to the higher spec models. They are safe and comfortable to drive. With the Cupra, however, you can actually have a bit of fun.
To answer the question above, yes, it is sportier than the ID.3. Even with a 0-60mph time of seven seconds, it feels much quicker than that, and thanks to the lighter steering, you feel much more in tune with the car. I tested this car on the beautifully scenic roads of Rutland in the East Midlands, and the Cupra Born was a joy to drive along this long, snaking roads.
For a relatively small car, the Cupra’s suspension seemed to cope with the uneven, and at times poor road surfaces. There is a clear blend between the Spanish exuberance of Cupra and the rugged dependability of Volkswagen.
The gentlest of squeezes on the throttle inject you with that instant rush of torque, thrusting you back into your seat and encouraging you to do it again and again. It is by no means a Porsche Taycan – nowhere near – but, for a regular, everyday electric vehicle, you can have as much fun in this as you can in something like the Mini Electric, just with a bigger range and a greater level of practicality.
So, it might be slightly faster and sportier, but how do they compare on cost?
Is it worth the money?
The 77kWh V3 Born is the most expensive model in the lineup, starting from £41,975. Standard models, which feature a 55kWh battery, start from just under £35,000 and offer an official range of up to 259 miles.
There is not a significant drop-off in range and performance between the different models, so in our mind, it makes sense to go with the most cost-efficient entry-level models. Especially when, in order to make room for the extra battery in the back on the 77kWh version, you will lose your middle seat in the back.
If we take the entry level model of the Cupra Born, which is priced from £34,660, and compare it to the standard VW ID.3 at £35,505, then it seems to make a bit of sense to go with the Cupra. Other versions of the ID.3 may offer you more range, but if you’re willing to compromise on that, you can enjoy a better driving experience, a better design and still save yourself a little bit of money.
What’s it like on the inside?
Once again, it’s pretty much identical to the ID.3 (shock!)
The interior features a 12” infotainment screen which replaces all the usual buttons that would control air conditioning, driving modes and other regular features. The system works well and doesn’t suffer from any annoying lagging issues that plagued early models of the ID.3. It also supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto so you’ll be able to sync your phone up easily and use that operating system over the built in VW one if you’d prefer.
There is also a very small – and very basic – drivers display which is mounted to the back of your steering wheel, which will give you only a few details such as speed and your range. Thankfully, this is coupled with a heads-up display which projected onto the road which also tells you your speed as well as a handy little lane-assist function.
In terms of all the furnishings, it does feel like a bit of an upgrade on the ID.3. Suede suits give the interior a premium touch, and the rest of the car is coated in other luxurious materials. Just like the exterior, there are small hints of copper detailing which bring a welcomed sense of colour to the inside of this car.
It is a small car, so headroom and legroom isn’t the best, particularly if you’re well over six foot. There is no transmission tunnel, however, so you can stretch your legs out to the side if needs be. There is 385L of storage space in the boot but disappointingly, there is no front storage space, so your charging cables will have to go underneath all your shopping!
Tell me more about what it’s like to drive
There is just one setting for regenerative braking in the Cupra Born, but, even with that activated, it feels pretty non-existent. You can trigger the regen braking by flicking the drive selector into ‘B’ mode and it will gradually start to slow you down, but it is not enough to rely on for one pedal driving, unfortunately.
For an electric car, it is also quite noisy when you’re behind the wheel. There is a noticeable amount of wind and road noise, and at low speeds, the whirring from the battery is clear and obvious. If you’re looking for that true, silent electric vehicle driving experience, then there are much more quieter cars out there.
What do you think, then?
There’s so much to like about the Cupra Born. For an ordinary, everyday electric car, the Born delivers a level of performance that can draw a smile onto your face whether you’re sprinting up country lanes or just popping to the shops. There is no compromise on range or practicality, either.
It may not be worlds away from the Volkswagen ID.3, in terms of range, styling and price, but for me, I would take the Cupra Born every single day of the week.