Cupra Born: new arrival is one of the best compact EVs on the market

The new Cupra Born embodies characterful design and the spirited zip of electric driving

(Image credit: CUPRA)

When we spoke to Cupra’s design director Jorge Díez about the Spanish brand’s ambitions and future, characterful electrification was at the top of his priority list. This car, the Cupra Born, is effectively the brand’s manifesto made real.

CUPRA Born EV from front with sky in background

(Image credit: CUPRA)

The Born is an electric hatchback that’s sized to be at the mid-point in a fast-maturing market. Not quite city-car compact, and certainly no match for the brawnier electric SUVs, it has a broad range of capabilities. 

With a stated range of 215 miles for the basic v1 spec, it’s no long-distance cruiser, but it’s more than comfortable on the motorway and fast charging allows for all but the most ambitious distances to be covered with ease. 

CUPRA Born electric car from above

(Image credit: CUPRA)

Cupra Born EV: brilliant around town

It also makes the Born a brilliant machine around town, with a greater range than cars like the Mini Electric, Peugeot e-208 and Honda e, meaning charging is required way less often. 

In top v3 spec, the battery pack is boosted to 77kWh and the range stretched to an impressive 264 miles. You also get the kind of extras usually found only in much more expensive machines, such as massage seats and a heated steering wheel (an essential for cold-weather driving when you’re trying to conserve battery). 

CUPRA Born side view

(Image credit: CUPRA)

Other extras provided in the optional Tech L pack include wireless charging for your phone, keyless entry, and an intelligent park assist function. There’s also a nine-speaker audio system by Beats. 

All in all, the Cupra Born offers a premium experience in a relatively small package, just the thing to lure people out of larger cars.

CUPRA Born interior view of steering wheel and dashboard

(Image credit: CUPRA)

Just enough eccentricity

One of Cupra’s stated USPs is to make cars that are a little bit more exotic than your run-of-the-mill middle-market product. The Born is built on Volkswagen’s MEB electric platform (the Modularer E-Antriebs-Baukasten), a scalable system that underpins the company’s own ID range, the mid-size Audi Q4 e-tron and the excellent Škoda Enyaq iV. In terms of size and proportion, it matches up most closely to the VW ID.3, but where the Volkswagen is rather quotidian, the Born has little flourishes of eccentricity.


(Image credit: CUPRA)

It boasts a face like a Gaudí gargoyle, and a badge that looks like an instrument from the Inquisition, while there are Calatrava-esque diversions into twisted geometry, particularly on the grille, dashboard, and D-pillar. 

Splashes of the company’s signature copper finish lift the interior and exterior; our only quibble is the touch-sensitive controls for volume and heating (inherited from VW) that are fiendishly hard to operate consistently. Nevertheless, the Born sets itself apart without being overtly extrovert.

CUPRA Born from rear, in concrete building

(Image credit: CUPRA)

While global economics dictate that VW’s MEB-based cars must run the gamut of scale, we believe there’s a real benefit to downsizing. Leading industry figures have told us that advances in battery chemistry and production happen every month. Given this, VW’s recent decision to push back the introduction of its second-generation EV platform until 2028 would seem to make sense. As electrification comes of age, here’s hoping the modest automobile makes a comeback, offering efficiency, practicality, and style without sacrifice. 

Cupra Born, from £36,475, price as tested £43,280

Jonathan Bell has written for Wallpaper* magazine since 1999, covering everything from architecture and transport design to books, tech and graphic design. He is now the magazine’s Transport and Technology Editor. Jonathan has written and edited 15 books, including Concept Car Design, 21st Century House, and The New Modern House. He is also the host of Wallpaper’s first podcast.