New 2022 Cupra Born: hot hatch is Spanish brand's first EV

27 May 2021 - autocar

New 2022 Cupra Born: hot hatch is Spanish brand's first EV

First fully electric Cupra model promises up to 335 miles of range and 231bhp

The Cupra Born has been revealed in production form. It will be available with between 150bhp and 231bhp and offer a range of up to 335 miles.

Previously known as the El-Born, the Spanish marque’s first electric car is based on the MEB platform of its Volkswagen Group parent. The Born will go into production in September at the group’s Zwickau factory in Germany.

 It is almost technically identical and closely related visually to the Volkswagen ID 3 but brings its own “stimulating design and instantaneous performance”, according to Cupra, along with a distinctive “dynamic character”

R&D boss Werner Tietz also promised the Born will offer a distinct driving experience compared to its VW Group siblings: "We have invested a lot of time in tuning the chassis, steering and powertrain. We will offer the car with DCC [dynamic chassis control] in combination with ESC Sport and a lower ride height - 50mm at the front and 10mm at the rear, which gives a nice feeling for the car.

"The DCC application is unique, and we spent a lot of time on different Tarmacs and in different conditions to fine-tune that. Then we combined that with progressive steering so you have a dynamic and sporty feeling for the handling, it gives a direct response."

The Born is the first fully electric model to join the brand’s line-up and follows the introduction of plug-in hybrid powertrain options for the Leon and Formentor.

Its powertrain comprises a rear-mounted permanent magnet synchronous motor (rated at up to 16,000rpm) paired with a single-speed transmission and differential.

Customers will be able to choose from four lithium ion battery pack and motor combinations. A 45kWh, 150bhp model with up to 211 miles of range marks the entry point, with a 58kWh, 204bhp model positioned just above returning 260 miles of range.

As with the ID 3, a 77kWh battery is specified on top- rung variants, offering an official range of 335 miles. The most powerful versions use a 231bhp motor that sends the hatchback from rest to 62mph in 6.6sec.

Cupra claims the largest battery can gain 62 miles of range in seven minutes using a 125kW charger, while a 5-80% charge from a 125kW fast charger takes 35 minutes. A bespoke, Cupra-branded domestic wallbox is also available for home charging and can be controlled using the firm’s new Easy Charging smartphone app.

The Born has almost the same dimensions as the MEB-based ID 3, at 4322mm long, 1809mm wide and 1537mm tall, with a wheelbase of 2767mm. However, it is marked out as the more overtly performance- oriented model by its sharp LED headlights and pointed front end, which Cupra likens to the nose of a shark.

“The Cupra Born’s design is multi-faceted,” said Cupra design director Jorge Díez. “It sharpens the Cupra look while at the same time incorporating the modernity of its advanced electric powertrain. It delivers a strong Cupra character that expresses agility and performance with its mix of flowing surfaces and technical details.”

The car also receives bespoke wider tyres – 215mm as standard but available in 235mm guise – for enhanced grip and stability. They’re fitted to alloy wheels ranging in diameter from 18in to 20in.

A 12.0in infotainment touchscreen will be fitted as standard to all Borns, with an augmented reality head-up display, fully digital gauge cluster and touch-sensitive icons controlling the major convenience functions. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also included, with the Cupra Connect app used as a hub for all connectivity functions.

Cupra says that much of the Born’s interior is produced using materials that reduce the car’s environmental impact. For instance, the bucket seats are made from Seaqual yarn, consisting of upcycled marine plastics, and recycled Dinamica microfibre is used as an option for the door panels and seats.

Several active safety systems are standard, with predictive adaptive cruise control, travel assist, traffic sign recognition, emergency assist and pre-crash assist all part of the package. Additional tech, such as high-beam assistance, a top-view camera and intelligent parking assist, are optional.

Cupra expects the Born to stand out from rivals because of its credentials as a small performance EV.

“The Cupra Born proves that electrification and performance are a perfect match. It’s a game-changer in the market,” said Werner Tietz, executive vice- president of research and development at Cupra and Seat. He also noted that the Born will be “contributing to the reduction in CO2 without any compromises”.

UK prices are expected to be announced in the final quarter of 2021, before deliveries start in early 2022. Expect a slight premium over the ID 3, with a starting price of just under £35,000 to ensure lower-spec models qualify for the government’s electric car grant.

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