Cupra is a relatively new brand for me. I remember seeing them around, and wondering what these unique and distinctive-looking cars were. In a world where a lot of vehicle design seems to be converging with only a few stepping out into the left field of design, they appear as a breath of fresh air. 

When the opportunity came to try their latest electric hatch, it was a no-brainer and something I was really interested in trying. The fact I am seeing more and more of them around must be a good sign, right?

What We Like and Dislike About The 2023 Cupra Born V+ Debut Edition

What we likeWhat we don’t like
Great performance
Efficiency matching advertised figure
Responsive vehicle dynamics
Comfortable seats
Unique look
High build quality
Touch controls
Manual seats
Front wiper sweep

What’s In The 2023 Cupra Born Range?

With the Cupra Born still relatively new to New Zealand you currently have only one option, that being the Born V+ Debut Edition. As you will see below this is reasonably highly specified but with that, you have no opportunity for customisation, the only options being a choice of 6 paint colours and an extended mechanical warranty which increases coverage from 100,000 to 150,000 km.

2023 Cupra Born Standard Equipment Highlights

Safety & Security

  • Front Assist, City Emergency Braking and Pedestrian Protection
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Side Assist (blind spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert)
  • Exit Assist (warning of vehicles/cyclists approaching from rear when opening the door)
  • Rearview camera
  • Top view camera
  • Lane Assist
  • High-beam Assist
  • Emergency stop signalling
  • Driver and front passenger airbags with passenger de-activation
  • Front side airbags
  • Front & rear curtain airbags
  • Central airbag (between front seats)
  • Electronic Stability Control (ESC) Sport
  • Alarm (perimeter and interior monitoring)
  • Pre-crash proactive passenger protection system
  • Tyre pressure monitoring
  • Driver fatigue detection


  • 12″ colour touchscreen including Bluetooth, 2 USB-C ports and integrated voice control
  • Wired Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
  • Wireless phone charger
  • Twin USB-C charging ports for rear seats
  • 5-speaker sound system
  • Sports suspension
  • E-Boost mode which provides an extra 20 kW of power (power is increased from 150 kW to 170 kW)
  • Keyless Entry and Go (KESSY)
  • 5.3’’ digital instrument cluster
  • Progressive steering
  • Regenerative braking
  • Charging capacity up to 170 kW DC


  • Dual-zone climate control
  • Sports front seats with integrated headrests
  • SEAQUAL® black upholstery (contains upcycled marine plastic) with copper stitching
  • Auto-dimming rear-view mirror
  • Multi-colour interior ambient lighting
  • Aluminium pedals
  • Heated sports leather steering wheel with integrated controls
  • Steering wheel with satellite buttons – Drive Profile and e-boost
  • Double floor in boot
  • Split folding rear seats (60/40) with ski hatch and armrest
  • Four cargo rings in boot
  • 12-volt socket in boot


  • LED Daytime Running Lights
  • Full LED headlights (includes dipped and main beam)
  • Rain and light sensors
  • Electrically adjustable, heated and folding door mirrors
  • Liquid Grey door mirrors with CUPRA welcome light silhouette
  • Illuminated exterior door handles
  • Dark-tinted rear windows
  • Sports bumpers
  • Front and rear parking sensors
  • Intelligent park assist
  • Electronic parking brake
  • Rear spoiler in body colour with black side fins
  • Coast-to-coast LED tail lights


  • Anti-theft wheel bolts
  • Self-sealing tyres
  • 19” Copper Typhoon Wheels with 215/50 R19 tyres

2023 Cupra Born Colour Range


  • Aurora Blue   +$850
  • Geyser Silver
  • Rayleigh Red
  • Glacial White
  • Quasar Grey


  • Vapor Grey

Our Review Vehicle’s Optional Equipment

Aurora Blue Metallic Paint $850.

Including the optional equipment, our review car’s retail price is $75,750.

For a full list of specs and options available for the BRAND Born V+ Debut Edition head on over to the Cupra New Zealand’s website

How Does The 2023 Cupra Born V+ Debut Edition Compare To Its Competition?

Finding equivalent vehicles to the Cupra Born V+ was a difficult task. There are no shortages of hot hatches in New Zealand, but virtually no electric ones. Likewise, we are getting a lot of electric vehicles on the market, but the SUV is dominating. I tried to find some interesting ones that you might consider instead. 

Make/ BornBattery
Range KM
2022 Polestar Long Range Dual Motor (AWD)78300 / 6604.7480 405$104,900
Cupra Born V+77170 / 3107.1548385$74,900
Tesla Model 3 RWD57.5211 / 4166.1513542$69,700
Peugeot 208 EV50100 / 2608.3348311$61,990
Fiat 500e  Pop40.287 / 2209.0320185$59,990
Opel Corsa-E50100 / 2608.1383309$59,990
Mini Cooper SE EV Hatch320.6132 / 2707.3233221$49,990

Please note DriveLife does its best to ensure the information below is correct at the time of publication, however, prices and models can change over time. Please bear that in mind when comparing cars in the comparison table.

First Impressions Of The 2023 Cupra Born V+ Debut Edition

I had started to notice quite a few Cupra’s around the streets where I live, and they all looked pretty good with a distinctive appearance. Upon arriving at the local dealership to pick up our press car, I was not disappointed. 

It was my first time seeing a Born close-up, and it’s a pretty striking design. The shape is modern, has nice lines and the plane changes in the body work well without looking like someone has gone crazy on the sketchpad. The proportions and stance look great for a hot hatch.

The 19” wheels are an eye-catching design, and the icing on the cake, that Aurora Blue paint is gorgeous. Design-wise this is a really nice vehicle and for me, it hits the spot.

They say first impressions count, and from what I saw we are off to a great start.

What’s The Interior Like In The 2023 Cupra Born V+ Debut Edition?

Opening the door and getting in, the same theme continues, that of a nice-looking and well-designed car. Someone has spent some time making sure this design works, and both the interior and exterior work together and are in unison with each other.

The front seats have an integrated headrest design, but unfortunately only manually adjustable. This is something I don’t understand about such an expensive car. To me, and I know others will disagree, but at your top-of-the-line model and an asking price of $75,000, electric seats should be standard. Looking past that, they are really comfortable, providing ample support in the back and side, the headrest was in a good position for both me driving and a number of passengers that tried them out, and the lower squab length of the seat also worked well.

The SEAQUAL upholstery, which contains upcycled marine plastic, appeared pretty hard-wearing but was still soft and comfortable to the touch. This was accentuated with copper stitching, a colour that is used a lot throughout the vehicle and provides a striking contrast. Both driver and passenger get the same seat design, with which I had no problem achieving a comfortable driving position with the adjustment range available.

When sitting in the seat, you have a nice steering wheel in front of you. The size and proportions work well. It has nicely sculpted hand grips, touch controls that work well, and circular buttons below the spokes, that while not as cool as other manufacturers, provide a quick way to change your drive modes.

Behind the wheel, there is what appears to be the standard Volkswagen Group 5.3” display, with rotary control on the upper right for forward/reverse and neutral modes. On my Volkswagen ID.4 review, I thought this looked a little small and out of place, on the Born V+ however it fitted in perfectly and the design felt much more integrated. 

To the left of this, the main infotainment screen appears again to be straight out of the Volkswagen Group parts bin, and is the larger 12” version. The infotainment system itself is pretty slick, with the graphics and interface appearing to be much cleaner and simpler than previous versions of the screen I have tried. It has all the standard things you would expect to see but interestingly no integrated SatNav, something I am seeing as a bit of a trend in new vehicles lately. 

It kind of makes sense with Apple CarPlay and Google Auto doing such a good job of integrating their ecosystems, why would you want to spend the time, money and effort doing your own? Unfortunately, this leads to another of my pet peeves, in a car that has wireless phone charging and a simple to set up Bluetooth connection, why would you go with the wired CarPlay option? Again for the price point of this vehicle, I just don’t get it. I tend to use CarPlay a lot, and as expected it was pretty seamless and did exactly what you would expect.

As mentioned, the standard Cupra infotainment system was very easy to use. The screen was clear, the information easy to find and it was pretty snappy. I feel it’s a clear improvement on the standard Volkswagen system.

Below this screen you have two centre vents for the air conditioning system, and between them the hazard light button. To the left is the glovebox, and unfortunately, this continues a current trend of only half the front visual opening space being usable storage. You are however saved by a large centre console that has ample storage. It’s divided into two halves with the front containing two well-positioned cup holders, and a storage bin. These are both covered by a sliding panel in the common ribbed rubber design. On a couple of vehicles previously I have seen this show signs of wear after very little use. The surface appears to be damaged easily by fingernails and it looks really bad really quickly. The Born V+ showed no signs of this, but it would be something I would look out for once we start seeing vehicles that have had a year’s use, as it’s the only area of the interior that I would suspect might not last.

The rear section of the centre console contains a standard-looking storage bin, but in the front of it does have a cleverly positioned wireless charging pad. Normally these are right at the front of the console and not easy to get to. This one is perfectly positioned but does suffer from the little ridge at the bottom not quite being tall enough and phones falling into the bin behind. The bin is pretty deep, and does contain 2 USB type C connectors (you’ll need it for your CarPlay or Android Auto).

Materials in general on the interior appear high quality and look like they would last. The dashboard features a nice chequed motif on the left-hand side which is also visible on the door cards above the armrests and on the exterior behind the C pillars. It’s a nice touch and something that reinforces the integrated design.

Speaking of the door cards, the Born V+ features the same 2-window control button setup as the ID.4. Again I found this a bit too easy to accidentally brush over the touch area that changes which set of windows it is operating, and found myself moving the wrong one on multiple occasions.

The rear seats are a visually similar design to the front and have plenty of headroom. They are comfortable and have a nice recess between them, great for storing things you don’t want sliding around. This would however make it impractical to carry a fifth passenger comfortably with the car effectively being a four-seater. To me, this is not really a big issue, as a couple with no kids I would hardly ever need the middle rear seat. Dual vents and two USB-C ports on the rear of the centre console ensure your back seat passengers will travel in comfort and if children, be entertained the entire trip.

Boot space is ample, and as well as a standard 60/40 split in the rear seats you do have a ski hatch in the centre that folds down and allows for long items to reach through. When folding the seats down however, they do not go completely flat, resulting in an angled floor in your enlarged storage space. I know this is common in sedans and hatches, but it did seem a bit more exaggerated on the Born V+.

Overall it’s a really nice interior; It’s functional, comfortable, looks great and there is not much to fault. Those things that did not quite gel with me verge on personal preference and in the big picture are pretty minor.

What’s The 2023 Cupra Born V+ Debut Edition Like To Drive?

The one car I owned and wished I kept longer was a Golf GTI. It was the perfect size for my needs and so much fun to drive. This was going to be a different experience, being a small hot hatch that runs on electrons. Those of you who have read my reviews will know I have spent a bit of time in electric vehicles lately, it’s the way the industry is going, and I have not been overly impressed with the driving experience for a number of reasons. I can say, the Born V+ is a really fun vehicle to drive and has started to restore my faith.

As we have already covered, the seats and seating position are great. Driving around on both the city streets and open road, I was super comfortable and never felt much of the bumps and undulations transmitted through to me. 

To avoid them completely, you need fast responsive steering, and boy has the Born V+ got that. I have not driven a vehicle recently that has steering so fast and responsive to the touch. The slightest movement and the car would dart in the direction you wanted. A darty car is generally a bad thing, as any imperfection in the road would have the car reacting and going where you didn’t want it, but the Born V+ was not like this. In straight-road driving, it stuck to the road and was not adversely affected by any irregularities.

As soon as you gave it some input, it did exactly what you wanted. It’s like a big go-kart and I loved it. To me, this is a sign of a vehicle that has its front wheel dynamics designed very well, so well done to the engineering team on this one. This particular characteristic is probably also helped by a big lithium-ion low-down sprung weight, but more on that later.

If we are going to go with the theme of the Born V+ being a big go-kart, then you need throttle response, and that’s something electric vehicles should do well, though some better than others. Again this is an area where the Born V+ excels. The slightest movement on the accelerator and you feel something happen, the car starts to move and react. It doesn’t matter what drive mode you are in, they all elicit this response. This is a vehicle that has drivability in spades. 

With all this responsiveness, both in the motor and steering, you might think the dynamics and ride would suffer. Well not so. When driving around town, the Cupra engineers have designed a vehicle that is compliant to the road whilst giving the feedback you desire, but eliminating those you don’t. When on the motorway it is smooth, quiet and agile. Once you get into the back roads of New Zealand, it is what you would expect of a modern hot hatch. You don’t need 300kW of power to have fun in a vehicle, but what you do need is everything the Born V+ has; steering that is precise and well-weighted, a chassis that responds to your inputs, and a power plant that is perfectly aligned with your inputs. Driving the Born V+ was a really enjoyable experience for me and gave me fond memories of my previous Golf GTI, as they have the same power and are a similar size. Generations apart in technology – but both a heap of fun.

Whilst you are enjoying the emotive experience of the Born V+, obviously there are a few mundane technicalities that you need to deal with. 

The steering wheel of the Born V+ is a nice size and shape and houses a plethora of controls at your fingertips. Ergonomically they are fine, and you can reach them all easily. However they are a mix of touch and haptic controls, and personally, I found them frustrating to use. It was unclear what ones were using the touch feature, and what ones you needed to manually push. On top of that, the touch didn’t always seem to recognise my inputs. It’s possible I didn’t click and work out exactly how to use it, but a system that relies on touch should be super intuitive and require little to no instruction to operate.

On the left side of the steering wheel, you have adaptive cruise control, and this works well with the vehicle tracking to the speed set and this was the easiest of the touch controls to operate. Below this however is a button for changing the main screen view, and this was a funny one. I had recently come out of the ID.4 that has a touch button you slide your finger on. This was the same button, but operated by a rocker mechanism and it was hard to get used to as intuitively you want to just slide your finger across it. On the right side of the wheel, there are similar buttons for controlling the stereo and your phone, with the lower button controlling the 5.3” instrument display and having the same issue as the left.

Below these, there are two round buttons that Cupra calls satellite controls. They look like rotary dials but don’t rotate and are in fact push buttons. The one on the left scrolls through the 5 drive modes, Comfort, Performance, Cupra, Individual and Range, whilst the button on the right enables Cupra mode, which unleashes an additional 20kW of power. During my time in the car, I tried out all the modes and honestly did not notice a whole lot of difference. As you cycle through them the inherent behaviour of the vehicle remains the same, you just get a little more of everything. I didn’t spend much time in the Range mode, as the range was great anyway. Nor did I spend excessive time in Cupra mode. Whilst the extra 20kW from Cupra mode could be felt, it didn’t appear that great a change to warrant a unique mode. 

Visibility is good, and I didn’t notice any interference with the A-pillar, nor the B when pulling into traffic or looking out the side. Out the back visibility is limited, but there is a great reversing camera. For comfort, the air conditioning system works well but was noticeably less effective when in Range mode. It’s a dual-zone system and is smart enough that when it detects no one in the passenger seat, turns off that side.

Around town there is the tiniest bit of wind noise from the intersection of the driver’s window and B pillar, but interestingly when on the motorway this appeared to go away and the only noise was from the tyres, which was negligible. 

The Born V+ is full of lots of safety features like adaptive cruise control, lane assist, and collision avoidance, all of which are becoming standard on all cars. I tested them out and they all worked well. The lane assist is the one I am often most dubious about, and passengers are not that keen to have demonstrated when I take my hands every so slightly off the wheel and see it working. The Cupra was fine with this. 

What didn’t always work however was the “driver fatigue detection” system. Often a message advising me to pay attention to the road ahead would pop up and ironically you have to push a button on the central touch screen to make it go away. Fifteen seconds later again it would come up, and again I would have to get distracted to make it go away. The annoying thing is that when this was happening I was doing 30kph in town, had both hands on the wheel and was looking straight ahead. Even my dad in the passenger seat commented that it was a bit over the top, so I am confident I was ok and something strange was going on with the system.

During the end of my time in the vehicle, the weather was wet and this exposed the only real flaw in a system of the Born V+. The window wipers on the front screen are not your standard one-pivot in the centre and one-on-the-edge setup. Instead, both wipers pivot at their outer edge with the movement timing offset. This is great from a manufacturing point of view as there is no difference between a left and right-hand drive vehicle. However, the timing is set up so that the left-hand wiper does a full movement 1st while the right is offset. This works for a left-hand drive vehicle, as the occupant on the left always has a nice clear view, however, if you don’t change the timing for a right-hand drive vehicle the driver always ends up with a semi-circular wet line right in their vision every second stroke. This should be easily fixed electronically, and I’m surprised it’s not implemented in right-hand drive countries.

Talking with one of my colleagues, they expressed the opinion that electric vehicles don’t give as much enjoyment to drive from a purist point of view as an internal combustion engine vehicle. Their view was that the dynamics are not as good and you don’t get as much driver input and control. Looking back, I can see their point. You will never get the full Golf GTi experience in an electric hatch, and I think the main reason for this is if you want any serious range out of it you currently need a massive lithium-ion piece of ballast in the vehicle. No matter how well you engineer it, no matter how low you place it and how close to the centre of gravity or rotation, it’s still a massive weight and has the associated inertia. Does that mean you can’t enjoy this type of vehicle? No way, I had heaps of fun and I’m looking forward to hearing said colleague’s opinion after he borrowed it from me for a couple of days.

And while we are talking batteries, this is the first electric vehicle that matched the manufacturer’s advertised range during my time with it. During my week in the Born V+, I covered just under 400km both around town and motorway driving, which resulted in me not using a full charge of the battery. I did however charge it towards the end of my drive, purely out of curiosity to see how it all worked.

Over my completed test drive I achieved an impressive 16.1kWh/100km. Even more reason to make me smile at the end of the experience.

Fred’s Point Of View

A lot of hype follows the Born so with hopes set on high, the Born and I commuted and did general life stuff together. First impressions? So very refined. Late last year, I drove the MG4, BYD Dolphin and then the GWM Ora – all 3 of New Zealand’s cheapest new EVs. While the MG4 is the most refined of those three cars, the Born certainly lifts the bar on that front. Then again, it is $75K, so it should be a lot better.

Like Matt, I was surprised that at that price there are no electric seats, and that there are only 4 seats. Putting it nicely, I did not enjoy the haptic steering wheel controls at all. But build quality is top-notch and for me, it all comes back to the driving experience. It drives beautifully and sits so well on the road. The ride quality is harder than I expected, but it’s still an impressive commuter. Living with the Born day-to-day with too easy, and I love that like Tesla and Polestar, you just get in and push your foot on the brake and the car is ready to go.

If there was one other thing along with the driving experience of the Curpa Born, it would be the design. In that blue with the bronze highlights, it absolutely pops on the road compared to other cars and is a stand-out in any supermarket carpark. 

Lastly, there’s the range. I managed to avoid my first charge until I had driven 360km, with 127km of range left, meaning for me a real-world number of around 487km. Yes, it has a chunky battery but for those who insist they need to drive to Auckland and back constantly, the Cupra Born is a close call.

All in all, I loved the Born and could live with one very easily.

2023 Cupra Born V+ Debut Edition – Specifications

Vehicle Type5-door, rear-wheel drive, small electric hatchback
Starting Price$74,900
Price as Tested$75,750
MotorSingle Electric Motor
Power, Torque
TransmissionSingle-Speed Auto
Spare WheelNo
Kerb Weight, Kg1,811
Length x Width x Height
4,324 x 1,809 x 1,540
Boot Space / Cargo Capacity,
(seats up/seats down)
Battery Capacity, k
Energy Economy,
Advertised Spec – Combined – 15.8
Real-World Test – Combined – 16.1
Low Usage: 6-10 / Medium Usage 11-19 / High Usage 19+
Towing Capacity
Kg, unbraked/braked
Not Rated
Turning circle
Small: 6-10m / Medium 10-12m / Large 12m+
Warranty5 years / 100,000 km mechanical warranty
8 years / 160,000 km high-voltage battery warranty
5 years Cupra Roadside Assistance
3-year paintwork warranty and 12-year anti-perforation warranty
Safety informationANCAP Rating – 5 stars – 5 Stars – QHC78

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Driver Technology
Next article2023 Volkswagen ID.4 PRO | Electric Car Review
2023-cupra-born-v-debut-edition-electric-car-reviewI went into this with a semi-open mind but deep down probably expected another average experience. I knew the Born V+ looked stunning, but was unprepared for just how much fun it was to drive. The interior continued the great looks, the build quality was right up there and the driving experience left a smile on my face. If you want a hot hatch that will turn heads, I’d seriously consider the Born V+. On top of that, it will do over 450km in real-world conditions on a charge, and that’s a winner in my book.


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