Affordable Cupra Born EV dazzles with sporty performance

Before driving the Cupra Born, I’d never sat in an EV, let alone driven one. Now, all I can think about is the zippy little hatch from Barcelona.

Let me make one thing clear upfront: I’m not a car expert by any stretch. My experience with vehicles extends to using them as a point A to point B machine and nothing else. That, and my daily drive is a Mazda 2 that’s older than I care to admit. If you want the perspective of someone well-versed in vehicles, check out our recent YouTube video where Valens Quinn puts the Spanish car through its paces.

Despite all this, I absolutely adore the Cupra Born from both an aesthetic and functional perspective. Officially launched in Australia recently, the sporty EV comes from Volkswagen subsidiary Cupra, a brand native to Barcelona that’s only come down under in the past couple of years.

What I encountered from my brief drive was an experience I’m keen to replicate in the future. At a supremely competitive price point for the range and quality you get, the Cupra Born should quickly become a staple of the Australian EV landscape. We’ve got all the technical details about the vehicle too, but for now, here’s how the experience shapes up.

First impressions driving the Cupra Born

Cupra arranged for the GadgetGuy crew to attend the official launch in Canberra, a destination chosen for its high adoption rate of electric vehicles and progressive subsidies. Here, we drove an inner-city loop that included some time at higher speeds on the highway.

In regular city traffic, the Cupra Born handles superbly. Its steering is highly responsive, and it’s quick to accelerate, not to mention whisper-quiet. Along with my first EV experience, I also used regenerative braking for the first time.

Cupra Born rear angle

A technology used throughout various EVs, it transfers kinetic energy that would’ve otherwise been wasted back into the battery, maximising range. Once you take your foot off the accelerator, you feel the car slow down as if being gently pulled from behind. This also means you rely less on the brake, which I imagine would make the brake pads last longer too. As I got used to regenerative braking, which can be enabled or disabled in the Born, I found myself slowing down way too early ahead of stop lights, so there is an adjustment period.

Cupra claims you can get up to 511km on a single charge of the standard Born model. While I didn’t get to test the range accuracy, a roughly 15km loop barely drained the battery. Although substantially still more expensive than petrol-powered hatchbacks, at $59,990 before on-road costs, the Cupra Born presents one of the best value EV offerings in Australia.

Even on the highway, the car belies its compact stature in generating speed and power. Overtaking slower cars was effortless, as was slowing back down in the city thanks to the aforementioned regenerative braking.

A Spanish romance

It’s a beautifully stylish car, too. Not only does it feature a sporty exterior, the Cupra Born’s interior looks and feels luxurious. Aside from its sustainably-made seats that use upcycled ocean plastics, copper is the humble ingredient that caps this EV off. Copper accents and trims subtly line the car’s construction, including inner compartments, the steering wheel, and its elegant badge.

At the launch event, several core members of the Cupra design team spoke at length about what they wanted to achieve with the brand’s debut EV. Much of it revolved around abandoning sterile car speak in favour of embracing the emotion and excitement of driving. To a sceptic like me, these words sounded like they were plucked from an advertising focus group. In practice, however, I found the act of driving the Cupra Born thrilling. Cars can be fun and functional, who knew?

While my time behind the wheel wasn’t enough to comprehensively assess the car, especially important factors like range and charging time, I tasted enough to know I wanted more. If nothing else, the drive gave me a greater appreciation of the passion people have for vehicles. This passion is sometimes seen as parody in games like Gran Turismo 7 for those, including myself, on the outer of the hobby. While I’m not about to binge all seasons of Drive to Survive, I now get some of the excitement car enthusiasts regularly espouse.

For now, you can find more Cupra Born information via our launch coverage and the company’s website. Although an EV doesn’t currently fit into my budget, I’ll fondly remember my time with the Cupra Born, and look longingly at any I see drive past.

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Chris Button and Valens Quinn travelled to Canberra as a guest of Cupra to attend the launch event.