Striking Cupra hatch blends urgent performance and drivetrain flexibility with welcome efficiency and design appeal.

Another week and another intriguing all-electric offering from the wunderkind in the VW Group stable. Cupra has been so successful as a brand in its own right that it has upstaged Spanish parent brand SEAT, and it shows no signs of letting up with headline acts like the Cupra Born hatchback. It shares a platform and battery with the likes of the Skoda Enyaq and VW ID models, is rear-wheel driven, and is in line for Car of the Year honours in New Zealand.

First acquaintance suggests why. Here’s a practical hatchback, Corolla-esque in size, that is very responsive, is in-tune with keen drivers, and is itching to escape the city to explore more challenging roads. It feels much more agile than its SUV relatives, is not burdened with oversized rubber, and brings a sense of occasion to any trip.

Easy acceleration, quick steering, decent brakes and flat cornering immediately stand out once you’ve noticed how pleasantly the Cupra Born rides. From that point on its about exploring the myriad drive modes and settings to find the right recipes for your driving routes. Many people will be satisfied by the default modes alone. Some will seek out the ‘e-boost’ Cupra button at every opportunity for an extra 20kW surge.

And the feelgood factor continues when you consider all the design elements that adorn both interior and exterior, especially when set against the Aurora Blue hero colour. There’s a lot going on at virtually every point of the car but it’s generally tasteful rather than overwrought. We would never tire of washing this car and appreciating all the detailing, aerodynamic and otherwise.

Copper accents abound inside, too, and work just as well set against the range of materials and textured surfaces. Designers have wisely steered away from gloss-black. Again, there’s a lot going on wherever you look yet it’s a cohesive cabin design and a delightful one to behold. It functions just fine, too, with good interfaces, appealing graphics, and a practical twist-to-shift transmission selector. We would, however, forego some of the design effort for seats with a higher-grade upholstery and a bit more lumbar support. No complaints about the rear bench, though, and rear legroom, thanks to the long wheelbase. Boot capacity also beats that of a VW Golf.

The bottom line: a distinctive, highly equipped EV that is right-sized for urban motoring and has the design values that should instil long-term pride of ownership. Crucially for some, a 500km+ range means genuine long-distance ability. So despite the premium price, it’s easy to understand why it’s in COTY contention.


MOTOR Single electric

BATTERY 77kWh li-ion

OUTPUT 170kW/310Nm

TRANSMISSION Single-speed auto

DRIVETRAIN Rear-wheel drive

LENGTH 4.32m

WEIGHT 1830kg

WHEELS 19-inch alloy

TYRES 215/50 (f, r)

0-100km/h 7.0 secs


PRICE from $74,990



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