It may resemble its stable mate the ID.3 but there is no denying that the Born is a different beast when you get behind the wheel
At this stage of my life I am well used to getting dodgy looks from passersby.
I am sure most of them are thinking: “What the hell is that middle-aged man doing in a cool-looking sports car? He has to be going through a mid-life crisis.”
Then it dawned on me: it wasn’t me at all that was getting the looks — it was the badge on the front of the new Cupra Born I was driving last week that was attracting all the puzzled looks.
You see, the Cupra brand – the posh arm of the Seat company – is still relatively new in the eyes of Irish car buyers.
I’m sure if you asked half the country to name the brand after showing them the logo, they wouldn’t have a clue.
And, if I am to be perfectly honest, I hadn’t seen the new Cupra Born myself in the flesh until I picked it up last week.
But boy did my eyes light up when I did. I had read all the rave reviews and heard all the rumours that this was the car to give many of the top EVs a run for their money, and it didn’t disappoint.
In fact, with a starting price tag below the €40k mark, it really caught my attention. Basically, the Cupra Born shares most of its underpinnings with its Volkswagen ID.3 stablemate.
However, when you actually get up close and personal with the Born, you will see that it’s a far sharper looking car than the ID.3 and it give the impression that it could match a Golf GTi on a hot-hatch lap.
On the outside, the new Cupra Born makes the ID.3 look like a bit of a plain Jane.
Featuring a bonnet that has more creases than one of my work shirts, stunning LED headlights and tasty front grille, the designers of the new Cupra Born have nailed it.
Step inside and you will be as impressed as I was. It is very de-cluttered and spacious, yet comes with all the latest technology at your fingertips.
Like that in the ID.3, the gear selector is not in the middle of the two front seats, but attached to the driver’s instrument panel just above the wipers, something I first came across in the BMW i3 many moons ago.
Elsewhere in the cabin, there is a 12-inch touchscreen that operates all the in-car entertainment and climate control.
Again, I am old-school when it comes to air-con/heating controls and would much prefer to turn a simple dial for hot or cold rather than go up or down a degree on a touch-screen.
One little grievance I did have with the Cupra Born’s infotainment and steering wheel controls is that they are touch-sensitive and can be very annoying and fiddly at times.
On the road, the new Cupra Born was a pleasure to drive. My test car was fitted with the mid-range 58kWh battery pack. There’s also a smaller 45kWh and larger 77kWh option on offer too, depending on what you need.
This means that power outputs vary from between 150bhp and 231bhp and all models are powered by the rear wheels.
Cupra claim the range on the 58kWh model should give you close to 420km on a full charge.
As usual on electric vehicles, I couldn’t even get 420km up on the estimated range after charging it overnight for more than 12 hours.
Realistically you are looking at closer to 350km in normal, everyday driving conditions – which is not bad really if you don’t plan on doing too much driving.
I had planned a road trip to west Clare over the Bank Holiday weekend but, as usual, the forecast and a typical Irish mammy’s weather warning to her son put a spanner in the works
Overall, I think the new Cupra brand is on to a winner with the Born.
The fact that this excellent EV has even sparked my own personal interest says a lot.
It looks like a superb foot on the EV ladder for less than €40k.
Not many models in this electric-car category can compete with that.