In Auto Review 9/2021 we entered the world of Cupra. Next to the Olympic Stadium, the brand has just opened its first Dutch Cupra Garage. It is not a shiny showroom in an industrial area, where recently graduated IVA students are still somewhat unaccustomed to kicking the tires of the car.
No, a Cupra Garage is hip. You don't hear Foreigner or Guus Meeuwis blaring through the speakers, but lounge music that you associate with a beach bar in Bloemendaal. Instead of fluorescent lighting, the Cupra Garage is filled with designer lamps. The bar is not inferior to that of a club and a lounge sofa is not lacking either.
In 2021 Cupra opened a second Cupra Garage in the famous Baja Beach Club in Rotterdam, with more to follow this year. There will also be test drive centers in Leusden, Zwolle and Eindhoven, where you can drive the Cupra models.
All fun and hip and completely influencer-proof, such a Garage, but how do you translate that hipness to your cars? A Cupra specialist (never say salesperson) already taught us what the brand is on earth for in Amsterdam. Cupra wants to walk a middle course: the emotion that you associate with sports cars, but not the exorbitant prices. By cleverly combining speed and electrification, the brand hopes to touch the hearts of enthusiasts. The GTI or Cupra feeling, but in an electric car.
Since 2018, Cupra is no longer a suffix of the nicest Seat models, but a separate brand. As if Cupra himself couldn't believe it was standing on its own two feet, the start was very cautious. The Cupra versions of two existing Seat models, the Ateca and the Leon, received new logos.
Last year, the Formentor was Cupra's first own model. In its Cupra policy, the Netherlands goes a step further than other countries: all Cupra models have a plug with us. The Leon and Formentor are plug-in hybrids, the Born is the first Cupra to be launched exclusively as an EV.
Under the skin, the Cupra Born is of course 'just' a Volkswagen ID.3. Both cars roll off the production line in the same factory in Zwickau, Germany, and use the MEB platform. Many specs are therefore familiar to us: a battery pack of 58 kWh, a power of 204 hp. Although Cupra likes to be sporty, it does the standard sprint to 100 km/h just as fast as the ID.3 (7.3 s) and the top speed is also the same (160 km/h).
You can also see the similarities in the lines, just like in the design of the dashboard. So the Born has to make do with that impossible to operate infotainment system, where even turning down the climate control or radio is quite a job. You have to press with your finger on narrow keys placed below the navigation screen. That requires so much precision work that you have to keep your eyes off the road. Anyway, you have had to hear this lament more often… hopefully they will read along in Zwickau.
So what distinguishes the Born from the ID.3? For example, with its standard sports suspension and heated bucket seats. Cupra is also more generous with its equipment: where the Germans satisfy you in the basic version with a Bratwurst on a soggy bun. Cupra serves an extensive tapas meal. The basic version of the ID.3 with 58 kWh has steel rims, the Cupra lures you with light metal. Adaptive cruise control and a reversing camera are included in the price. While you pay almost the same for both models. The Cupra Born costs 37,990 euros (Business One), the ID.3 37,740 euros.
It gets even more fun when you look for tasty extras. For example, Cupra offers you a pick-up and return service for four years if the car needs maintenance and they provide replacement transport.
Cupra's option policy is simpler. If you want certain features, you have to order a more expensive version. For example, if you can't live without a wireless phone charger, you'll have to buy the Adrenaline One version. The surcharge is clear, you always pay 3000 euros per step on the equipment ladder. With the ID.3 you have more freedom to put together your ideal car.
Volkswagen also gives the buyer more choice with the battery pack, you can go for a smaller (45 kWh) or a larger battery pack (77 kWh), with corresponding smaller or larger range. That is not yet possible with the Born: 58 kWh is the only option, the range is officially 421 kilometers. That will change in 2022, by the way, the Born will then have the same batteries and motors at its disposal as the ID.3.
In theory, the Born is well suited to its sporting tasks. It has rear-wheel drive, a 50:50 weight distribution and a low center of gravity thanks to its floor-mounted battery pack. In the busy city traffic of Barcelona, an electric car is a godsend, the scooters that try to shoot past you left and right, let you turn into dots in your rear-view mirror with the press of the right pedal. But the most adrenaline comes from DJ Tiësto blasting out of the sound system. The Cupra Born is above all a great car for daily use. The silence is nice, the basic tuning maybe a bit too firm. But instinctively it's an ID.3 with a different logo, there's nothing exciting about it.
Now we drive the first kilometers with a Born without an adaptive chassis and with 'only' 150 hp. If you then step into the 204 hp version with e-Boost Performance package, it will be more fun. Via a button on the steering wheel, with Cupra logo, you can then adjust the steering and chassis to your own wishes, from comfortable to sporty. Even nicer is that you can temporarily give the power a boost, there is briefly 27 hp more at your disposal. Equipped with that exciting button and the temporary power cure, the Cupra finally gets rebellious. On winding roads, the Born turns out to be really well-balanced: it eats them quickly and stoically. You just have to think of a compelling engine sound yourself.
The Cupra Born is already in the Netherlands. It is a typical make-or-break car: if the Born starts up, the Cupra brand is instantly on the map. Who knows, visitors to the legendary Baja Beach Club may return to the Cupra Garage in search of the wild hair they've lost over the years...
Do not expect a sensational driving experience when you get into a Cupra Born, the similarities with the ID.3 are too great for that. At the same time, that trusted German also makes the Born attractive, Volkswagen has been entrusted to build balanced cars. Only when you press the optional e-Boost button, the Spanish temperament still awakens. A German base with some Spanish frills: such a combination is quite attractive.
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