This is the first time in the UK with an electric car for a whole month. A few years ago we were able to borrow the Nissan e-NV200 which of course is a van and that was most interesting though not quite the same as a car and definitely not so easy to park!
Driving around in the Cupra Born, with it being an all electric car makes me feel so much better, for starters we are not burning all that stinky petrol. For our day to day driving the 256 miles of range we are now seeing is more than enough and we don't even have to charge every day. To be honest we are maybe doing 10 - 20 miles a day most of the time, with the odd day when we've done more, but we can charge up at my mums overnight without issue, and that's just on a 10A 240V three-pin plug! We did try out a Tesla Supercharger, just to see, and that was a fast charge at 87 kW/h. The biggest problem is that the charging port on the Cupra Born is on the wrong side so when we charge at a Tesla Supercharger we are occupying two spaces which doesn't feel right. It's okay if there is plenty of space or if there's an end spot with room to park but, we'd feel super awkward if there were others, especially Teslas, waiting to charge. Until there are more chargers this is always going to be a dilemma.
I do like the Cupra Born, as a car it's nice and rides well, seemingly coping with all road surfaces (oh my goodness, some of them are really bad!), it's very comfortable, especially on those longer journeys. It's centre screen though, with its slow and muddled UI being all over the place, I think would become annoying long term. You can't just get to where you want to be easily and that gets frustrating. Maybe that will get updated at some point. The car is of a reasonable size (a little larger than needed) and is fairly easy to park in the town centre, it does just fit in the car parking spaces and just in those in the supermarket car parks, unlike the huge SUV's - why do so many people have them these days, they really don't fit?! Anyway back to the Cupra Born - One slightly odd behaviour it has is when you pull up to a roundabout and pause, then decide to go, the car is like "what, I don't understand, we only paused for a second and now you want me to go again". It's almost as if it needs to have a think for a few seconds to go from pause to forwards, it's quite odd.
Look what we found... it stays light until around 10pm in the UK in the summer, so unless you are out really late you don't notice the "Cupra Born" sign that beams down from the door mirrors. I am not sure of its purpose, but it is rather cool.
We've been up and down the country, on regular roads and motorways and very narrow roads where you just hope no one else is going to be coming the other direction, and I have to say it has served us really well. We went to Grassington and you wouldn't be in the north of England if you weren't parking your car in a field with the sheep! At least we were not polluting their air. It may have the odd 'oddity' but as we only have it a short time, those are liveable with. I'm not sure we'd buy one though, it's not for us, but for a month it was great. It was lovely to be able to drive electric for the majority of our stay and it did make a huge difference. Oh and washing the car - it's quite big to wash and I cannot reach the middle of the roof, but other than that it's easy to wash and dry. It does collect a lot of dirt on the back windscreen though, that gets flicked up as you drive. As we were in the UK during major pollen season, the car did have a yellow ish tinge to it, although most of that blew off when we drove.
The only issue that took us off the road and it was non-electric was that we had a tyre blow out, first time ever and no idea what caused it. The AA turned up promptly and fitted a temporary wheel so we could get to the garage to get a new tyre, which we had to wait until the next day for!
Charging with the Cupra Born in the UK is fine once you get the hang of it. So far we've charged at my mums house, so that is 10A at 240V or 2.4kWh and is really just a trickle charge so you need all night and all day to charge from empty. We've used the rapid GRIDSERVE chargers on the motorway and they were great, and as the name suggests, they are rapid. We've also used InstaVolt which was at a Starbucks and not on the motorway, these were also rapid. We had a total fail with Chargemaster, which were purchased by BP to become BP Pulse, they just didn't work even though they gave the impression otherwise, as in they were turned on and lit up. We parked at one of the three charging units and plugged in, went to the screen to activate and nothing, just blank. Okay, unplug and move to the next one. Plug in again and go to the screen to activate. Need to go through the app, create an account, log in, and then the app crashes. Try again, same thing, and again and again. This is getting ridiculous, at this point we'd already wasted 20 minutes and were totally annoyed. We tried to unplug the car but it was locked, oh for goodness sake why won't you release the cable. Is there a setting on the car to release it, the unit maybe - nope nothing. Ugh, ugh and ugh. We decide to call the company and guess what - they are busy so we are on hold... I do wonder if locking the car and unlocking it might work as by this point the car has gone to sleep - it too is fed up!! Car locked and unlocked and yeah, the charging cable was released. With some anger one's sidekick throws it to one side and we hang up the call, still on hold and drove off. We will never use that companies chargers ever again. It's things like this that give electric cars a bad reputation. It's so annoying as GRIDSERVE, Tesla Superchargers and InstaVolt are brilliant.
Now over to my sidekick for his thoughts on driving the Cupra Born after a month...
We’ve over 1,000 miles on the clock now and we’re in the groove. We’ve discovered that Apple CarPlay can fill the gap left by the on-board navigation and we’ve become used to the quirks of the controls; they’re not intuitive and they’re just, well, a muddle.
Dynamically, the car is sound, the seats are comfortable and a day spent on the road is not to be feared. A high point that deserves note is the performance of the automatic cruise control, a welcome inclusion on an entry level version, it controls the car in stop/go traffic very well, far better than Tesla’s cutting edge tech.
Other high points include the ample torque and the equally sufficient braking, that said, the car cannot be hustled as again, the software gets in the way. A good example is the challenge of dealing with repeated roundabouts on a dual-carriageway - that’s circles on a four-lane divided highway for our American friends - the problem is that when you fly in braking into the roundabout then, seeing an opportunity, switch to full acceleration… nothing! It’s completely dead, you’re left coasting into the roundabout with that car that was coming around bearing down on you. It’s quite scary. It takes a few seconds for the stability/drive to kick back in… long enough for you to get tutted at - that’s the British equivalent of getting yelled and honked at for our American friends but trust me, the British version is far worse!
In conclusion, it’s miles ahead of an equivalent petrol Golf, the smoothness and performance are just in another league but, would I buy one? No. I can’t recommend it because there’s better out there now and much more on the horizon. But, this opinion would flip a 180 if the right software was installed, then, I’d take a V3 with the big battery in a heartbeat - it could be that good.