The Cupra Leon on test for Changing Lanes

Cupra Leon Review

Read Caroline's Cupra Leon review for everything you need to know about buying Cupra's sporty hatchback in Ireland.

Cupra was a badge that adorned many high performance Seat cars over the years like the Ibiza Cupra and the Leon Cupra.

But all that changed in 2018, when Cupra became its own standalone brand within the Volkswagen Group.

And it’s been a big success, releasing some great models like the Born and the Formentor, and becoming one of Ireland’s fastest growing car brands along the way.

The Cupra Leon sells in smaller numbers than the Born and Formentor, but Cupra has still managed to sell around 300 of them this year.

The Cupra Leon goes on sale priced from about €35,310, with the choice of petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid. That’s still competitive against the likes of the Toyota Corolla, the Opel Astra, Peugeot 308 and the Ford Focus. And you get to drive a car that looks as good as this.

The Cupra Leon on test for Changing Lanes
The Cupra Leon on test for Changing Lanes

Styling

If you thought it looked a lot like a Seat Leon, you’d be right because this is one model that is still shared with the Seat brand. But it’s been beefed up and given the Cupra makeover. Cupra is of course a more upmarket, performance brand within the Volkswagen Group. And these days Seat Ireland no longer offers the Leon in the sporty FR trim, leaving space for Cupra to carry the mantle - which it does very well. The Cupra Leon looks meaner and more aggressive with sportier bumpers, larger air intakes, large front splitter, dark chrome front grille frame and side skirts. It also wears Cupra's copper trimmed badge in the centre of the grille. It's a very eye-catching car and attracts plenty of admiring glances.

The wheels deserve a special mention. No one does alloy wheel designs as cool as Cupra's. 18-inch come as standard, while high performance VZ models get 19-inch. The test car pictured has an optional copper/black tipped 19-inch design. Stunning!

All in all, it looks good parked up beside high spec versions of its rivals.

Interior

The cabin is very similar in its basic design and layout to the Seat, but it has been 'Cuprified' and all for the better. The material quality is better overall with some nice soft touch panels in the doors and gorgeous seats. The Leon e-hybrid gets bucket seats as standard, though entry level petrol and diesel models get more basic sport seats. There's the option of those same bucket seats in full leather, blue or black. The steering wheel stands out with the Cupra logo and the full digital instrument cluster with a number of different layouts to toggle between from the touch of a button. There's a lovely strip of ambient lighting around the dash, with the choice of a few different colours.

The cabin of the Cupra Leon
The cabin of the Cupra Leon

A large touchscreen comes as standard with wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. Wireless smartphone charging is an option but there are a few USB-C ports. The minimalist cabin means that pretty much everything is controlled from the screen, including the ventilation. It can be a bit fiddly to use on the move, though you get used to it. Other features include heated steering wheel, heated front seats and a reversing camera.

Practicality

The Cupra Leon is built on the same underpinnings as the latest Volkswagen Golf and Audi A3 for example. It is one of the most spacious hatchbacks of its kind, with generous headroom in the back. Tri-zone climate control comes as standard.

Petrol and diesel versions have a decent 380 litres of boot space, though the plug-in hybrid can only manage 270 litres. But opt for the Sportstourer and that goes up to 470 litres.

Engines

There are a range of engines for the Cupra Leon and it's get a few spicier power options than the Seat. The range kicks off with a 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine with 150hp and the choice of a manual or automatic gearbox. There are similar options for the 2.0-litre diesel, also with 150hp. There's also a 1.4-litre plug-in hybrid with either 204hp or 245hp. The 12.8kWh battery onboard can be charged in about 3.5 hours at a rate of 3.6kW and driven electric for up to about 60 kilometres.

For some real high performance, there's the Cupra Leon VZ 2.0-litre TSI turbo petrol with 245hp or 310hp and four wheel drive.

The Cupra Leon is available with a range of engines
The Leon is available with a range of engines

Driving

The Cupra Leon is a really nice hatchback to drive with precise steering and sweet handling. It gets a front differential lock as standard so it handles the tarmac with real skill, turning into corners with lots of grip and staying wonderfully flat and balanced throughout. The Leon is almost worth it just for that skill.

Dynamic Chassis Control comes as standard on VZ models, but was added as an option to the test car. It means you can fine tune the suspension damping and steering through a few different settings: Comfort, Sport and Individual. It's comfortable for a sporty hatch and the extra firmness of the Sport mode actually enhances the driving experience. The only annoyance is persistent road noise from the tyres.

With 204hp and an electric motor for a burst of torque, the e-Hybrid is one of the most powerful of the range with 0-100 in 7.5 seconds and 350Nm of torque. It's expensive to buy however and does need to be charged to get the best from it - including efficiency. On an empty battery, it gets thirstier. But if you can charge it regularly and even drive on electric power alone for a limited range, then it can work well. But otherwise most buyers will be served well enough by the 1.5 petrol.

Pricing

The Cupra Leon range starts at about €35,310 for a 1.5-litre petrol manual. Diesels start from €37,585. The Leon e-Hybrid on test with 204hp costs about €48,145.

Rear seating in the Cupra Leon
Rear seating in the Cupra Leon

Verdict

The Cupra Leon is a brilliant sporty hatchback. It stacks up very well against high spec, sporty versions of rivals like a Corolla GR Sport, Astra GS, and Focus ST Line. It's fun and spirited to drive, and Cupra has done a good job at giving it a makeover to make it feel more special. It does get quite expensive however, particularly as a plug-in hybrid. However with one of the more basic engines, it's a very good buy indeed.

____________________________

Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes, Juror for Irish Car of the Year

The Cupra Leon is a brilliant hatchback
The Cupra Leon is a brilliant hatchback

The Cupra Formentor on test for Changing Lanes

Cupra Formentor Review (2023)

Read Caroline’s Cupra Formentor review for everything you need to know about buying Cupra's stylish crossover.

The Cupra Formentor first launched back in 2021 and was Cupra's first model designed exclusively for the brand. Since then the Cupra range has expanded to include the Born electric hatchback. The Cupra Leon and Ateca complete Cupra's range of family cars and SUVs - with a little bit of attitude. The new electric Cupra Tavascan is expected to arrive in 2024.

Cupra is pitched as an upmarket sporty brand within the Volkswagen Group. The Formentor has really helped to establish Cupra as a new standalone brand in the Irish market since Cupra first appeared here in 2019. The Formentor's blend of sporty crossover style and array of power options including petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid has made it a good choice for Irish motorists. It is the brand's bestselling model currently.

In this review, I take a closer look at the Formentor range in 2023 and drive the plug-in hybrid version with 204hp.

The Formentor goes on sale priced from about €40,630.

The Cupra Formentor on test for Changing Lanes
The Cupra Formentor on test for Changing Lanes

Styling

The Formentor is priced in the region of familiar family SUVs like the Kia Sportage and Nissan Qashqai. But it's a bit more of a sporty coupé-crossover by design. It's lower and longer than a Cupra Ateca SUV but still sits a little higher off the ground than your average hatchback, which gives it a sense of presence. There's also a touch of rugged crossover style with a contrasting finish around the wheel arches, bumpers and lower sills to add character.

The Formentor is quite outlandish in its looks - in a good way. It definitely stands out on the road as something a little different. There's a sporty front splitter, sexy roof spoiler and diffuser effect in the rear bumper hinting at some good performance. Though the plug-in hybrid's copper 'exhaust tips' are for styling only. There are a range of captivating 18- and 19-inch alloy wheel designs available with Cupra’s signature copper accents.

Interior

The cabin is quite distinct too and feels very 'Cupra'. The gorgeous bucket-style sports seats are a must-have and really add to the sporty vibe. The dashboard layout feels very driver-focused, with a lovely leather-wrapped, Cupra-branded steering wheel and lots of soft-touch materials adding to a feeling of quality that seems just about right for a car at this price point. There's more of Cupra's signature copper trim to add style and exclusivity.

Inside the new CUPRA Formentor
The cabin of the Cupra Formentor

The Formentor is very well-equipped with tri-zone climate control, reversing camera and heated front seats/heated steering wheel. There's also a full digital driver display and you can toggle between a few different layouts from a button on the steering wheel. The large touchscreen in the centre of the dash comes with Cupra-specific graphics as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for seamless integration with your smartphone. It can be a little bit fiddly to use. There's heavy reliance on the screen for simple tasks like adjusting the ventilation or the fan speed for example. You get used to it but it's not the most practical of systems.

Practicality

The Formentor will seat five and offers two large footwells in the rear as well as a decent enough amount of headroom for a stylish crossover like this. It will be more comfortable for two rather than three passengers. But there are amenities included like separate vents as part of the tri-zone climate control, USB ports, an armrest and hatch that opens through to the boot.

When it comes to boot space, the petrol and diesel models are best offering a competitive 450 litres. If you go for a plug-in hybrid that figure goes down to about 345 litres. It's a shallower space overall but still useful.

The Formentor offers a range petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid
The Formentor offers a good range of petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid engines

Engines

Petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid options are available with either a 6- or 7-speed DSG automatic gearbox depending on model. The entry into the range is a 1.5-litre turbo petrol with 150hp. There's also a 2.0-litre diesel with 150hp. The plug-in hybrid uses a 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine, electric motor and a 12.8 kWh battery. So it can be driven electric for up to about 55 kilometres at most. It's available with 204hp or 245hp (VZ trim only).

At the top of the range, there is a high performance 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine just like the Golf R, putting out 310hp in the Formentor.

Driving

On the road the Formentor is more fun to drive than most crossovers and SUVs. Being a more performance-oriented brand, the Formentor gets an electronic limited slip differential that improves traction and grip in front wheel drive models. It helps to keep the Formentor tidy through bends. The steering is direct and well-weighted, and the whole car feels quite driver-focused. In plug-in hybrid form, it's not a hot hatchback but there is plenty of power when you want it. The Formentor responds willingly, with 0-100 completed in 7.8 seconds.

To get the best efficiency from the plug-in hybrid, the battery is best charged, which takes about 3.5 hours at a rate of 3.6kW. Over a week of driving in mostly hybrid mode, my average consumption was about 6 litres per 100 kilometres. Motor tax for this model is €140. The ride quality is mostly good with just a hint of firmness over bumps and imperfections in the road surface. The Formentor settles down well to a cruise on the motorway but there is some wind noise at high speeds.

Rear legroom in the Cupra Formentor
Rear legroom in the Cupra Formentor

Pricing

The range starts at about €40,630 for a 1.5 petrol manual, from €42,335 for a 2.0 diesel manual and from €48,300 for the plug-in hybrid. VZ high performance models are available from €57,795 for the plug-in hybrid and from €74,825 for the top of the range 2.0 TSI 310hp.

Verdict 

The Formentor is a brilliant crossover. It offers style and sportiness in abundance, without compromising the sort of practicality that will make it work for families too. There is a great range of power options that keep the Formentor relatively affordable. While also offering a good plug-in hybrid option for buyers who have the ability to charge to get the best out of the car. Inside, the Formentor is stylish and well-made, with lots of standard equipment coming as standard. What's more, it's really enjoyable to drive.

____________________________

Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes, Juror for Irish Car of the Year

The Formentor goes on sale from €37,135
The Formentor is a brilliant crossover

The Cupra Born e-Boost on test for Changing Lanes

Cupra Born e-Boost Review

Read Caroline's Cupra Born e-Boost review for everything you need to know about buying Cupra's electric hot hatchback in Ireland.

The Cupra Born is one of most exciting electric hatchbacks on sale at the moment offering eye-catching design and some of the best handling and driving dynamics of any battery-powered hatch of this type.

In Ireland, the Born is available with two different battery sizes. The 58 kWh offers a range of up to 427 kilometres of range, while the larger 77 kWh can travel up to 552 kilometres on a single charge.

The Cupra Born 58 kWh with a standard 204hp motor is available from €40,080 including grants, while the Born 77 kWh e-Boost is available from €51,890.

The Cupra Born e-Boost on test for Changing Lanes
The Cupra Born e-Boost on test for Changing Lanes

What's so special about the Cupra Born e-Boost?

The Born shares batteries and underpinnings with the popular Volkswagen ID.3. But Cupra offers the Born with a special performance package that's not available for the ID.3 because Cupra is positioned as a sporty premium brand within the Volkswagen Group. The unique 'e-Boost' package ups power to 231 hp and adds stronger front brakes. It retails from about €45,830.

Cupra's styling is also a little more daring and exciting. The Born is much sharper and sportier looking than the Volkswagen with Cupra's copper trim accentuating its rock chick credentials.

19-inch alloy wheels come as standard on the Born e-Boost with a number of captivating styles available. There's also the option to upgrade to 20-inch with performance tyres.

Sportier bumpers, side sills and a diffuser-effect in the rear bumper add to the Born's hot hatchback looks. There's a range of unique colours like Aurora Blue, Vapour Grey and Quasar Grey that really look good with Cupra's contrasting copper trim and striking LED lighting at the front and rear.

It looks good inside too and the Born e-Boost has the extra power to really impress on the road.

Inside the new CUPRA Born
Inside the Cupra Born

Inside the Born e-Boost

The Born gets a bespoke cabin that really suits its more sporty positioning in the market. It's finished well with some good quality plastics and more of Cupra's signature copper trim.

The highlight is the sports seats with integrated headrests finished in soft fabric. They really make the cabin feel special. There's also a Cupra-branded steering wheel, with e-Boost versions adding two satellite buttons to access the sportier driving modes more quickly.

The dashboard design is very minimalist with most of the car's functions controlled from a large touchscreen with Cupra specific graphics and menus. It looks good but the lack of physical buttons for things like adjusting the climate control makes it a bit frustrating to use. This is not helped by haptic buttons on the steering wheel that are equally unsatisfying to use.

Still, it features modern equipment like a wireless smartphone charging pad, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The high spec includes heated steering wheel, heated front seats and reversing camera.

There's loads of storage space and plenty of room for passengers thanks to an EV-specific platform. In the back that's most obvious with a flat floor that runs the width of the car giving ample legroom. The boot offers 385 litres of boot space, which is a bit off the best in class like the Renault Megane E-Tech but still very usable - but there's no where to store the charging cables when not in use.

The Born e-Boost is the most powerful of the range with 231hp
The Born e-Boost is the most powerful of the range with 231hp

Driving the Born e-Boost

The Born e-Boost is the most powerful of the range with 231 hp. Power goes to the rear wheels, which naturally adds a certain amount of dynamism and agility to the Born. Cupra has also made a few tweaks to the Born including a lowered, stiffer suspension, more responsive steering and lastly, stronger front brakes for e-Boost models.

It handles with some real style. Maximum power and torque is possible in the Cupra driving mode, with e-Boost versions doing the 0-100 sprint in just 6.6 seconds. It's hot hatchback-like performance capable of throwing you back in your seat. Standard 58 kWh versions will do it in 7.3 seconds.

The Born still shares most of the same smoothness and refinement as the ID.3. It does ride a little firmer but it's far from uncomfortable. While there isn't quite the same excitement as driving a petrol-powered hot hatchback like a Volkswagen Golf GTI, the acceleration, handling and quick steering mean that there's still plenty of fun to be had behind the wheel.

My average consumption was about 18.3 kWh per 100 kilometres during my time with the Born e-Boost.

DC fast charging is available up to 120 kW for the Born 58 kWh for an 80% battery charge in about 35 minutes at a high power charging station. While AC charging is possible up to 11 kW for a full battery in a little over 6 hours.

The Cupra Born e-Boost is a fun to drive electric hatchback
The Cupra Born e-Boost is a fun to drive electric hatchback

Did you like it?

The Cupra Born e-Boost stands out among electric hatchbacks with its stylish looks and sporty cabin. It's good to drive and feels more driver-focused than rivals, while retaining much of the same comfort and smoothness as the best in class.

It's not cheap to buy, particularly in e-Boost spec but it's well-made, practical and truly fun to drive. So if that's important to you, it would be hard at the moment to find a better electric hatchback to fit that bill.

Model tested: Cupra Born e-Boost 58kWh
Price: 
€45,830
Battery:
 58 kWh
Range: 422 km (WLTP)
Power: 231hp
Torque: 310Nm
Top speed: 160 km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 6.6 seconds
Motor Tax: 
€120 per year

____________________________

Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes, Juror for Irish Car of the Year


The new Cupra Born on test for Changing Lanes!

Cupra Born 58kWh Review

Read Caroline's Cupra Born review for everything you need to know about buying Cupra's new electric car in Ireland.

The new Cupra Born makes Cupra one of the most exciting new entrants to the electric vehicle market in Ireland. A market we know is growing.

But the Born is a welcome addition, making a bold statement with its hot hatchback inspired looks. It's a compact EV with presence that's sure to turn heads.

The new Cupra Born goes on sale in Ireland in 2022 with a choice of two batteries: a 58kWh and a 77kWh, though a Born 45kWh is expected to join soon.

The new Cupra Born goes on sale priced from €36,360 (including grants and VRT relief) for the 58kWh version with a range of 425 kilometres measured to WLTP industry standards. Expect the Born 45kWh to be a bit cheaper when it arrives here and compromise some range for that too.

The new Cupra Born on test for Changing Lanes!
The new Cupra Born on test for Changing Lanes!

What's so special about the Cupra Born?

First it's electric. And anything with a battery is hot these days. But there's clearly more to the Born than just being a BEV.

Rewind a little. Cupra began as the performance arm of the Seat brand. So you might remember hot hatchbacks like the Seat Leon Cupra and a personal favourite of mine, the Seat Ibiza Cupra.

But then Cupra became its own brand. And in 2021 they brought us their first car that wasn’t just a rebadged Seat, the Cupra Formentor, which turned out to be a really good car.

Now they’re back with this, the new Cupra Born, and it’s the Spanish brand’s first electric car. It shares a lot with the Volkswagen ID.3, because all these brands are part of the Volkswagen Group.

But the Cupra Born has been designed to be sportier and more dynamic. And it certainly looks the part.

The dimensions of the Born might be the same as the Volkswagen ID.3 but Cupra has really put their stamp on this car. It has a much more youthful and sportier appearance than the ID.3. Wheel sizes are available up to 20-inches; 18-inch come as standard. There's a range of unique colours available including the signature Aurora Blue pictured.

The car is full of sporty details, like a flowing aerodynamic side sill element and copper accents, now a signature of the Cupra brand. The Born looks strong, unique and desirable, though the loud styling and big wheels won't suit everyone. There are full LED headlamps at the front and a charismatic full length light signature at the back. A body-coloured, integrated diffuser adds a final sporty flourish.

The Cupra Born is a new compact electric vehicle
The Cupra Born is a new compact electric vehicle

Inside the Born

The cabin of the Born is very stylish and well-appointed. It's quite a minimalist design - a small digital screen displays relevant battery and driving information to the driver, while a 12-inch infotainment screen comes as standard and takes centre stage in the centre of the dash. There are few buttons, which may or may not be your thing. There are also touch sensitive buttons on the steering wheel, but they are not the most satisfying to use.

Standard equipment levels are high including wireless smartphone charging, heated, Cupra-branded bucket seats, heated steering wheel, rear view camera and adaptive cruise control.

The car certainly has a high-end, sporty ambience with more signature Cupra brand copper accents inside, good quality materials, and those gorgeous bucket seats.

This is a compact car but it has been designed from the very beginning to be an electric vehicle - born to be a BEV if you will. So there’s a good use of space inside. You can sit three in the back and legroom is particularly good. Though the large bucket seats up front make it a little less friendly for children in the rear maybe.

There is a 385-litre boot, which is competitive for a hatchback like this one and a place for the charging cables under the boot floor.

Inside the new CUPRA Born
Inside the new CUPRA Born

Driving the Cupra Born

The Cupra Born uses Volkswagen Group’s MEB architecture and comes with a choice of batteries shared with the Volkswagen ID.3. I drove the Born 58kWh, and it’s a good compromise between price and range. It starts from about €36,000 and the real world driving range is about 350 kilometres, which makes every day driving very comfortable.

There’s also a Born 77kWh available at the moment. It costs a bit more to buy (from €44,100). But offers a longer range - 548 kilometres measured to WLTP industry standards.

The Born 58kWh is available with a choice of two electric motors that alter the performance somewhat. I was driving the standard 204hp version, but if you go for the e-Boost package you’ll have 231hp. The Born 77kWh is sold by default with the e-Boost package.

Cupra is keen to highlight the performance of the Born and it's fair to say it's quick regardless of which version you go for. It's very responsive off the line, with the 204hp Born 58kWh hitting 100km/h in just 7.3 seconds. In all models, power goes to the rear wheels.

Yet this is hardly a hot hatchback. For sure Cupra has tuned the car somewhat and it does handle in a natural way, with good pedal feel. When the Performance mode is selected, there's a more defined feel to the steering, which makes it a bit more fun to drive down a twisty rural road.

Cupra Born in Vapor Grey
Cupra Born in Vapor Grey

Out on the open road, the Born proves comfortable and refined. It is a good car but not as 'racy' from behind the wheel as what you might expect from those good looks.

The CUPRA Born can be plugged in to both AC (up to 11kW) and DC charging networks (up to 170kW depending on the model). The Born 58kWh can fast charge up to 125kW so you can get to 80% battery charge in about 35 minutes at a high power charging station. It will take about nine hours to charge the battery to full at home using a standard 7.4kW wallbox or about six hours at 11kW.

Did you like it?

If you’re looking for one of the coolest electric vehicles on the market right now, this might be it.

It’s not quite hot hatchback thrills behind the steering wheel. But for an electric car at this price point, the Cupra Born is fun to drive and super stylish.

If you're just looking to drive an electric car that has a bit of style and charisma, then the Cupra Born fits the bill. It's finished well inside and offers a spacious interior for a small family.

Cupra is growing in profile with a suite of exciting new models on the way and a strategic dealer network developing in Ireland. The Born should help accelerate growth of the Cupra brand in Ireland, in a market growing increasingly comfortable with an electric future.

The Born is another exciting new electric car to arrive in Ireland
The Born is another exciting new electric car to arrive in Ireland

Model tested: Cupra Born 58kWh
Price: 
€36,360
Battery:
58 kWh
Range: 427 km (WLTP)
Power: 204hp
Torque: 310Nm
Top speed: 160 km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 7.3 seconds
Motor Tax: 
€120 per year

____________________________

Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes

 


The Born is another exciting new electric car to arrive in Ireland

CUPRA Born First Drive Review

The CUPRA Born on test for Changing Lanes!
The CUPRA Born on test for Changing Lanes!

The CUPRA Born is the first all-electric model from the CUPRA brand and will arrive in Ireland in March 2022. We got an early drive in the new Born ahead of its Irish launch next year. The range will go on sale from €31,440, with three battery sizes available. Designed and developed at CUPRA’s headquarters in Martorell, Barcelona, the CUPRA Born is produced at the Zwickau plant in Germany.

Styling

The CUPRA Born takes the shape of a cool hatchback. It's edgy and distinct looking with an equally stylish selection of colours to choose from including Vapor Grey and the exclusive Aurora Blue. CUPRA's signature copper accents and badging feature around the car. 18" wheels will come as standard, with 19" and 20" available. All include aerodynamic inserts and copper accents. Contrasting C-pillars have a floating design, while puddle lights beam the CUPRA logo on to the ground from the door mirrors. The high-end finish is complimented by LED lights that run “coast-to-coast” at the rear of the car.

The Born is the CUPRA brand's first all-electric model
The Born is the CUPRA brand's first all-electric model

Interior

Inside, the CUPRA Born has a stylish and modern interior with a minimalist vibe. There is a small digital instrument cluster for the driver and a 12" infotainment screen comes as standard. There are some nice materials used in the doors and around the dashboard to give a sportier and more premium vibe in line with other models in the new CUPRA range. Users can access online services, downloadable apps and service features as well as remote access and charging via the My CUPRA app or charge their mobile devices using the standard wireless QI charger. Standard bucket seats use SEAQUAL® Yarn made from upcycled marine plastics. The door panels and arm rests are made from Dinamica®, another recycled material.

Practicality

Space inside the CUPRA Born feels somewhere akin to a traditional family hatchback. It's compact but spacious up front with seating for three in the rear. There is a 385 litre boot, which is competitive for a hatchback like this one.

Inside the new CUPRA Born
Inside the new CUPRA Born

Battery 

There are three battery sizes to choose from: 45 kWh (WLTP range of 350 km), 58 kWh (WLTP range of 424 km), and 77 kWh (WLTP range of 540 km). The CUPRA Born’s electric powertrain is available in a choice of 150PS (110kW), 204PS (150kW) and a 231PS (170kW) e-Boost pack for even more performance. Some models can avail of 170 kW DC charging and go from 5% battery charge to 80% charge in just 35 minutes.

Driving it

Built on the Volkswagen Group’s modular MEB platform, power goes to the rear wheels. The Born combines a MacPherson strut suspension at the front with an advanced five multi-link design at the rear. When equipped with Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC), the Born rides 15 mm lower in the front and 10 mm lower in the rear. The fastest models in the range are fitted with the e-Boost package, pushing the Born to 100 km/h in just 6.6 seconds.

The electric motor is located above the rear axle while the battery sits low between the front and rear axles, delivering a low-slung centre of gravity and almost perfect 50:50 weight distribution. Five driving modes - Range, Comfort, Performance, Individual and CUPRA (e-Boost only) - adapt to the driver’s needs.

CUPRA say they have tuned the car for a sportier feel in line with their brand values. On the road the new CUPRA Born feels compact and agile. We had a quick drive in the 58 kWh version. It doesn't feel too heavy on the road and behaves in a natural way. Steering is smooth and easy, the cabin hushed. 

The CUPRA Born has three batteries available
The CUPRA Born has three batteries available

Pricing

In Ireland the new CUPRA Born will go on sale priced from €31,440 for the Born 45 kWh. The Born 58 kWh will start from €35,550 and from €39,000 in the e-Boost trim. The Born 77 kWh with e-Boost will start from €42,650. All prices include the SEAI grant.

Summary

The CUPRA Born marks a new era of electrification for the brand, joining plug-in hybrid variants of the CUPRA Leon, CUPRA Leon Sportstourer and the CUPRA Formentor. The brand's range will be 100% electric by 2030. There is a new electric SUV coming in 2024, the Tavascan, which will be followed by a new compact electric car in 2025.

The CUPRA Born stands out for its design, offering an exciting new entrant into the electric space. With three battery sizes available and a competitive entry price, the Born has a great opportunity to woo buyers in the market for a new compact EV.

We look forward to meeting the Born again in 2022 and bringing you a more detailed road test.

The CUPRA Born will officially go on sale in Ireland in March 2022
The CUPRA Born will officially go on sale in Ireland in March 2022

Caroline Kidd


The Cupra Born e-Boost is a fun to drive electric hatchback

CUPRA Born For Ireland In 2022

The new CUPRA Born on the way to Ireland in 2022
The new CUPRA Born on the way to Ireland in 2022

The CUPRA Born is the first all-electric vehicle from CUPRA and is set to arrive in Ireland in March 2022, with pricing starting from under €38,000.

Designed and developed at CUPRA’s headquarters in Martorell, Barcelona, the CUPRA Born is produced at the Zwickau plant in Germany and features an electric range quoted in excess of 500 km.

The CUPRA Born’s electric powertrain is available in a choice of 150PS (110kW), 204PS (150kW) and a 231PS (170kW) e-Boost pack - this one car accelerate from 0-100km/h in 6.6 seconds and comes with larger front brakes and 19” wheels as standard.

Three battery options - 45kWh, 58kWh and 77kWh - deliver ranges of 350km, 424km and 540km. When charged on a 170 kW network, the Born can go from 5% charge to 80% charge in 35 minutes. It can also get 100 km of range in as little as seven minutes.

CUPRA say that despite its environmental credentials, the Born remains a driver’s car first and foremost. Power is delivered to the rear wheels, producing a sportier feel and a more engaging driving experience.

It combines a MacPherson strut suspension at the front with an advanced five multi-link design at the rear. When equipped with Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC), it rides 15 mm lower in the front and 10 mm lower in the rear.

The electric motor is located above the rear axle while the battery sits low between the front and rear axles, delivering a low-slung centre of gravity and what is said to be almost perfect 50:50 weight distribution. Five driving modes - Range, Comfort, Performance, Individual and CUPRA (e-Boost only) - adapt to the driver’s needs.

Inside the new CUPRA Born
Inside the new CUPRA Born

Built on the Volkswagen Group’s modular MEB platform, the Born measures 4,322mm long, 1,809mm wide and 1,540mm high. It has a wheelbase of 2,767mm and a 385-litre boot capacity.

Assistance systems include Predictive Adaptive Cruise Control, Travel Assist, Side and Exit Assist, Traffic Sign Recognition, Emergency Assist and Pre-Crash Assist, delivered via an augmented reality head-up display that projects key information onto the windscreen.

Six colour choices are available - Vapor Grey, Glacial White, Geyser Silver, Rayleigh Red, Quasar Grey and the exclusive Aurora Blue. Alloy wheel designs (from 18” to 20”) include aerodynamic inserts and copper accents. Contrasting C-Pillars have a floating design while puddle lights beam the CUPRA logo on to the ground from door mirrors.

Inside there is a driver-focused cockpit and 12” infotainment system. Users can access online services, downloadable apps and service features as well as remote access and charging via the My CUPRA app or charge their mobile devices using the standard wireless QI charger.

The CUPRA Born marks a new era of electrification for the brand, joining plug-in hybrid variants of the CUPRA Leon, CUPRA Leon Sportstourer and the CUPRA Formentor in the electrified portfolio, already on sale here.

Expected to hit Irish showrooms in early 2022, the Born will be followed by the all-electric Tavascan in 2024 and an urban electric car in 2025.

Niall Phillips, Brand Director for SEAT & CUPRA in Ireland, said:

“We look forward to the arrival of our first fully electric CUPRA, the Born in March of next year. The new model is proof that electric cars can set pulses racing, with an impressive all-electric range of more than 500km it is a real game-changing car for the CUPRA brand. It’s environmentally conscious but at the same time dynamic and exciting.”

CUPRA Born pricing is yet to be finalised but will start from under €39,000, excluding grants and delivery charges.

Some versions of the new CUPRA Born have a range in excess of 500 km
Some versions of the new CUPRA Born have a range in excess of 500 km

The CUPRA Leon on test for Changing Lanes!

CUPRA Leon Hybrid Review

The CUPRA Leon on test for Changing Lanes!
The CUPRA Leon on test for Changing Lanes!

Caroline drives the 2021 CUPRA Leon

CUPRA turns on a charm offensive in 2021 with a stellar line-up of new models including the Formentor, the brand’s first standalone model, and the new CUPRA Leon. The all-electric CUPRA Born is due here also.

The CUPRA portfolio is expanding, and the brand is finding its feet quickly, offering an exciting suite of cars that major on design and a sporty premium feel from behind the wheel. All good things!

Now it’s time to take a closer look at one of the new arrivals – the 2021 CUPRA Leon. Of course, these two have history, with the Cupra badge strapped to many high-performance versions of the SEAT Leon in previous generations.

The Leon has been tipped over to the CUPRA brand for a shape-up. The results are indeed very impressive.

What's so special about the CUPRA Leon?

Priced from €46,210, the CUPRA Leon on test here is a plug-in hybrid – a sporty one.

This car looks good, very good. The matte grey paint of the test car gives it a real sporty and exclusive image with chrome accents becoming a CUPRA defining feature on the road. The look is completed with magnificent 19” alloys on our test car.

Sporty features include a large front splitter, larger air intakes, side skirts, dark chrome front grille frame and side mirrors that contrast with the body colour. At the rear the plug-in hybrid has two individual tailpipes, a diffuser and spoiler.

CUPRA Leon on sale in Ireland priced from €46,210
CUPRA Leon on sale in Ireland priced from €46,210

The CUPRA Leon e-Hybrid is sold with a 1.4-litre petrol electric powertrain with 245 hp, certainly giving acceleration like a hot hatchback - 6.7 seconds to 100 kmh. But there’s none of the drama or emotion that you might get with a hot hatchback that traditionally uses a combustion engine. It’s more the hot hatchback of the future – the one that is quick but doesn’t make any noise.

If you want the full fat experience, CUPRA will plant a 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine in the Leon for you, with an inspiring 300 hp (priced from €54,245).

But hybrid is for sure where things are at these days. The e-Hybrid has a 13 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. It can be plugged in and charged via a 3.6 kW AC wall box charger, taking about 3.5 hours to get a full charge. When fully charged, the e-Hybrid can be driven on pure electric power for a range of up to 59 km, otherwise it works as a hybrid drawing power from both the engine and electric motor. Over a week of driving my fuel consumption averaged at 6.1 litres per 100 km, without a whole lot of charging.

Driving the 2021 CUPRA Leon

The new CUPRA Leon is designed, developed and produced in Barcelona at the brand’s Martorell facilities. The chassis and steering have been tuned to make the car more distinct and engaging to drive. The Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) system comes as standard - it constantly monitors the road surfaces and driver inputs, making imperceptible changes to the setup in milliseconds for the most engaging drive. The CUPRA Leon’s dynamics can be altered somewhat through the four different driver profiles: Comfort, Sport, CUPRA and Individual.

The CUPRA Leon plug-in hybrid has 245 hp
The CUPRA Leon plug-in hybrid has 245 hp

At the front there is a MacPherson strut suspension and a multi-link system at the rear for a refined ride and sharper handling. There's also Brembo brakes worthy of any performance car! The CUPRA Leon is also 25mm lower on the front axle than the SEAT its based on, and 20mm lower at the rear, meaning a lower centre of gravity for better handling.

On the road, CUPRA’s tuning has transformed the Leon for this occasion. Steering is sharper than the standard Leon from sister brand SEAT. The ride is more soft, premium, yet the handling tighter and more responsive. This one feels like a more sophisticated machine on the road, as it should for the CUPRA badge and price.

What’s it like inside?

Inside the cabin has been glossed over with more CUPRA branding and trim elements. The dashboard and door mouldings are finished in brushed dark aluminium, with copper and dark chrome featuring to define the brand. Illuminated CUPRA sill plates in the front doors complete the look.

The CUPRA Leon is pleasant and sporty behind the wheel with plenty of digital technology in the form of the digital driver instrument display and 10” touchscreen. Bucket seats come as standard setting the right note in terms of comfort and ambience. The Formentor feels a little more special inside, though the cabin design is closely related. It’s still very much a Leon cabin, it doesn’t have the advantage of the Formentor’s distinctness as an all-new standalone model.

The interior of the CUPRA Leon
The interior of the CUPRA Leon

With a five door, five seat hatchback arrangement, the Leon offers standard accommodation for five inside. The car’s platform makes good use of interior space so rear footwells are good for this class of vehicle. However, the Leon’s boot has taken a hit in terms of outright space to accommodate the battery. It is shallower at 270 litres, a bit off the class average. There’s also a CUPRA Leon Sportstourer with a more respectable 470 litres.

Did you like it?

The world is changing rapidly. The hot hatchback must evolve also. The CUPRA Leon performs well as a plush hatchback with plug-in hybrid technology. It’s swift on the road with sophisticated ride over whatever Irish tarmac has to offer.

It looks gorgeous and sporty; the CUPRA badge adds exclusivity and can only grow in recognition now the cars are here, and more good stuff coming.

Yet you will be sorely disappointed if you are expecting thrill, drama, and engine noise! The CUPRA Leon e-Hybrid is too well-behaved for that. The car looks the business but it’s so healthy for the planet when running, it just won’t quite thrill you like Cupra badged SEATs of old!

Still it’s a sign of the times. There is no doubt that this is a desirable car and a pleasant debut for hybrid in the CUPRA Leon range.

CUPRA has transformed the Leon in all the right ways
CUPRA has transformed the Leon in all the right ways

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: CUPRA Leon e-Hybrid 245 hp DSG
Price: 
€46,210
Engine: 
1.4-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 245 hp
Torque: 400 Nm
Top speed: 225 km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 6.7 seconds
CO2 emissions: 
30 g/km
Motor Tax: 
€140 per year


The 2021 Cupra Formentor has arrived in Ireland

Cupra Formentor Review

The 2021 Cupra Formentor has arrived in Ireland
The 2021 Cupra Formentor is now on sale in Ireland

Caroline drives the CUPRA Formentor.

CUPRA is hitting its stride in 2021 with the arrival of the brand’s first original model – the dramatically named CUPRA Formentor! The new athletic crossover joins the CUPRA Ateca, CUPRA Leon, and CUPRA Leon Sportstourer, already on sale here from CUPRA’s four retailers in Dublin, Limerick and Cork.

With a bespoke design, premium aspirations and electrified powertrains, the Formentor is an exciting new entrant to the Irish market, with a starting price of €37,135. It goes on sale with a range of engines, including plug-in hybrids and high performance versions.

What's so hot about the new CUPRA Formentor?

With the arrival of the Formentor, the CUPRA brand begins to find its niche and make sense. Visually unique and full of impact, the CUPRA badge may not be immediately recognisable, but this new Formentor leaves a lasting impression.

Embracing the most modern powertrain technology from the Volkswagen Group, the Formentor e-Hybrid on test for Changing Lanes leads the way with 245 hp and the ability to plug in, charge and drive on electric power for a range of up to 54 kilometres. The same model is also available with 204 hp. It marries sporty design with cool plug-in hybrid power so effortlessly.

Priced from €50,130 for the top spec VZ Formentor e-Hybrid 245 hp model on test, this is serious money but this is a serious slice of intent from the CUPRA brand. If you love the look of the Formentor, CUPRA will get you on the road from €37,135 with a 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine under the bonnet.

The CUPRA Formentor’s most powerful trim is the VZ, named in reference to the Spanish word “Veloz”, meaning “fast”. Equipment includes 19 " machined alloy wheels, a glossy 12" touchscreen, aluminium pedals, CUPRA bucket seats, and dynamic chassis control.

The Formentor goes on sale from €37,135
The Formentor goes on sale from €37,135

What's it like inside?

Inside there is a new generation interior that feels suitably unique for the emerging CUPRA brand. It certainly has its own identity to differentiate itself from other VW Group products, but with all the latest technology and digital features that such an association merits for the consumer.

This feels like a true premium car behind the wheel, but with a more youthful and sporty vibe to perhaps anything else you might encounter on the market today in this space. Brushed dark aluminium and copper accents add an official CUPRA feel, while the bucket seats add to the high end sporty vibe.

Quality is a strong point as is the digital instrument cluster for the driver. A few grumbles about accessing climate control functions through the screen and fiddling around for ventilation – but the Formentor is forgiven because it's just so damn unique and interesting inside. You feel like you are stepping out on a new mission every time you press that start button – a mission to save the world!

Formentor can also definitely apply for family car with a spacious interior and generous footwells in the rear. Its height of 1,511mm provides excellent headroom for all passengers while the wheelbase of 2,680mm offers significant legroom for rear occupants and a boot capacity of 450 litres, with powered tailgate available. Preeemium!

Inside the new CUPRA Formentor
Inside the new CUPRA Formentor

What's under the bonnet of the CUPRA Formentor e-Hybrid?

The high-performance CUPRA Formentor plug-in hybrid combines a 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine with a 116PS (85kW) electric motor and 13kWh lithium-ion battery pack, producing a combined output of 245PS (150kW) of power, 400Nm of peak torque and an electric range of up to 54 km.

There are a number of driving modes included for more fun behind the wheel. Comfort keeps things calm and level behind the wheel, ideal for the boring roads or a relaxing trip home. Sport and CUPRA mode ‘rev’ things up, doing all sorts like improving throttle response, tightening up the steering and suspension, as well as changing the sound.

This is not a fire breathing performance car full of drama, pops and bangs. 0 to 100 km/h is 7 seconds but getting there is a more muted experience in the Formentor. This is the way performance cars need to go now so get used to it!

CUPRA will still pop a 2.0-litre TSI in the Formentor for you if you want the old school hot hatch experience. That puts out 310 hp with four wheel drive to keep you glued to the tarmac.

The Formentor marries style, performance and efficiency very well
The Formentor marries style, performance and efficiency very well

On the road in the CUPRA Formentor!

The CUPRA Formentor has been designed and engineered to deliver a performance-orientated drive, with front MacPherson struts and multi-link rear suspension set-up for an intuitive dynamic response in enthusiastic driving! Dynamic Chassis Control comes as standard on the VZ models, which constantly monitors the road surfaces and driver inputs and makes imperceptible changes to guarantee surefootedness in any condition while delivering the most engaging drive. The driver can precisely set-up the vehicle to their preferences, as well as select from four pre-defined driver profiles: Comfort, Sport, CUPRA and Individual.

The Formentor is excellent over the tarmac with a truly premium finish to the ride quality. It’s sharp on the turn in with some lean but driving dynamics are genuinely sporty.

Over a week of driving my average fuel consumption was 6.4 litres per 100 km. With more regular charging, the car could be run even more efficiently. It takes between 3 and 5 hours to charge the battery at 3.6 kW.

CUPRA Formentor is available as petrol, diesel or hybrid electric
CUPRA Formentor is available as petrol, diesel or hybrid electric

Did you like it?

Yes I did! The Formentor is exactly what CUPRA needed – the first car uniquely developed and designed for the brand with an on-trend plug-in hybrid powertrain, premium finish and sporty crossover styling.

This car commands a polished image and futuristic presence. Designed as a crossover, but a sporty one, the Formentor does grow on you. Finished in black with copper accents around the exhaust pipes, it’s menacing and different. Striking just the right poise for a fledgling challenger brand that is aiming high.

A great range of engines means that it remains quite an accessible option in today's market.

2021 sees CUPRA add Formentor to its plug-in hybrid line-up, alongside CUPRA Leon e-HYBRID, which will be joined later in the year by el-Born, the brand’s first all-electric model.

The car is great. The challenge is of course building a brand and gaining that recognition, but CUPRA are well on their way now as the Formentor feels truly exclusive and unique.

The CUPRA Formentor VZ on sale now!
The CUPRA Formentor VZ on sale now!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: CUPRA Formentor VZ e-Hybrid 245hp DSG
Price: 
€50,130 including grant
Engine: 
1.4-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 245 hp
Torque: 400 Nm
Top speed: 210 km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 7.0 seconds
CO2 emissions: 
32-35 g/km
Motor Tax: 
€140 per year


Niall Phillips, Brand Director for CUPRA and SEAT Ireland, with the new Formentor

CUPRA Ireland Announce New Dealers

Niall Phillips, Brand Director for CUPRA and SEAT Ireland, with the new Formentor
Niall Phillips, Brand Director for CUPRA and SEAT Ireland, with the new Formentor

CUPRA Ireland has announced four new retailers in the key strategic locations of Cork, Dublin, Galway and Waterford, taking the number of retailers for the brand across Ireland to eight.

The current CUPRA retailers, Bright Airside (North Dublin), James Barry Motors (Limerick), Johnson and Perrott, Mahon Point (Cork) and McCoy Motors, Lucan (West Dublin) will be joined by new retailers Finbarr Galvin Ltd. (Cork), George Corbett Motors (Waterford), Spirit Motors (South Dublin) and Monaghan & Sons (Galway).

Each of the retailers will provide an exclusive CUPRA area to display the product range. Each CUPRA retailer will have a dedicated CUPRA Specialist, a brand expert who has received specialised training from the CUPRA factory in Martorell, Spain. The dedicated CUPRA Specialist is the only point of contact throughout the sales and aftersales process for the customer, with the aim of providing a bespoke and premium personal service.

The CUPRA brand first appeared in Ireland in 2018, with the CUPRA Ateca the first model to go on sale here. Since then new models have been added including CUPRA Leon, Leon Sportstourer, and the Formentor.

The CUPRA Formentor, CUPRA Leon and Leon Sportstourer are now also available as e-HYBRID models.

The announcement of four new CUPRA retailers prepares the brand for the arrival of CUPRA’s first 100% electric car, CUPRA Born, which is due to have its world premiere later this month and will arrive in Ireland in late 2021.

The  brand’s second 100% electric model, the CUPRA Tavascan, will join the range in 2024.

Niall Phillips, Brand Director for CUPRA and SEAT Ireland, said:

“It’s a very exciting time for CUPRA Ireland as we add to our network of CUPRA retailers. Since the brand’s launch in 2018, it has seen significant growth, which was marked with the launch of CUPRA’s first standalone vehicle – the CUPRA Formentor in January and the arrival later this year of the brand’s first 100% electric vehicle, the CUPRA Born. With plans to increase our retail network further in Ireland by 2022, we look forward to adding more CUPRA retailers to our network as the brand continues its expansion across Ireland.”


The new CUPRA Formentor plug-in hybrid

CUPRA Formentor e-HYBRID Pricing

The new CUPRA Formentor plug-in hybrid
The new CUPRA Formentor plug-in hybrid

CUPRA Ireland has confirmed that the new CUPRA Formentor e-HYBRID will go on sale in Ireland in March, priced from €39,895 including grants and VRT relief.

The CUPRA Formentor is the first car uniquely developed and designed for CUPRA. Production of the brand's new Formentor plug-in hybrid has just begun. There will be two versions, one with 204 PS and the other with 245 PS.

The company is now taking orders for the CUPRA Formentor e-HYBRID in its 245 PS version, while the 204 PS version will be available in the coming weeks. Both versions use a 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine, electric motor and a 13 kWh capacity lithium-ion battery, with up to 54 km available in electric mode.

Pricing for the e-HYBRID in Ireland starts at €44,895, but drops to €39,895 with the application of the available SEAI grant of €5,000 to private customers. The more potent 245 PS version starts from €55,130 but drops to €50,130 for private customers with the SEAI grant applied.

The 245 PS CUPRA Formentor e-HYBRID comes with additional standard equipment with exclusive 19” machined alloy wheels, aluminium pedals, CUPRA bucket seats, dynamic chassis control, exit warning and side assist.

The Formentor range starts from €37,135 for the 1.5-litre TSI 150 hp model.

The launch of the Formentor follows the CUPRA Leon e-HYBRID and the CUPRA Leon e-HYBRID Sportstourer, meaning the brand will have a total of four plug-in hybrid versions on the market.

The CUPRA el-Born, the brand's first all-electric model, will also join the range before the end of 2021.

SEAT and CUPRA Ireland Brand Director Niall Phillips said:

"The CUPRA Formentor will be key to the success of the CUPRA brand in Ireland and is likely to account for over 50% of sales in 2021. We know from the SIMI figures this year that the PHEV segment is growing significantly, up 105% compared to the same period in 2020. Hence, the Formentor e-HYBRID is likely to be of interest to anyone that covets performance twinned with an electrified vehicle's environmental benefits.”

Inside the new CUPRA Formentor e-HYBRID
Inside the new CUPRA Formentor e-HYBRID