My Cupra Born Experience

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Curious about the Cupra Born? Ann Robinson’s experience with the Cupra Born adds to the stories of satisfied EV drivers. She was happy to share her story here.

About Me

I was forced to look at new car options when someone rearranged the back of my car. I’m not a car enthusiast. A car has always been a way to get from A to B with good mileage and while being comfortable to drive. My car was always the runabout. My husband’s car was the touring car.

I was aware of some of the hybrid and electric cars on the market. My selection criteria for a new car were hybrid or electric, range, price, delivery time, and of course how it felt to drive. I started at one end of the car dealership street and worked my way to the other end, which happened to be the Cupra dealership. I hadn’t even heard of Cupra except from the MG dealer who remarked it would be the only EV he would consider.

Cupra Born
The day we collected our Cupra Born. Photo courtesy of Ann Robinson.

Why Cupra Born

When I saw the Cupra Born, I really liked the look of it because it didn’t look like most EVs. The WLTP range of the vehicle was an excellent 511 km (318 miles). The price was just under $60,000 on the road (3 × the price of my previous car). The delivery timeframe was August, sooner than most other cars.

I was able to take the Cupra Born for a test drive immediately, so off my husband, the dealer, and I went. My first impression was that it felt great to drive and the seats were very comfortable. It didn’t feel that much different to driving my ICE car, so it didn’t require me to adapt my driving style. The instrument panel had the usual info like gear and speedometer as well as all you need to know about range, battery status, etc. I was surprised at how responsive an electric car was. It ticked all the boxes for safety features, which included 360-degree camera, lane-changing warnings, collision warning, and adaptive cruise control. The automatic parking feature was a surprise and a bit unnerving to use.

The boot space looked large enough for road trips and around town. There are enough nooks for the driver and passengers to store belongings, etc.

After the test drive, I was sold and signed on the dotted line. I opted not to go for either the interior or exterior packages because the seating capacity would be reduced from 5 seats to 4 due to the extra weight. The only extra I opted for was ceramic window tinting, which I paid a premium for by getting it through the dealer.

First Weeks of Ownership

I was pretty excited to finally pick up my Cupra Born after a 6 month wait. I loved how responsive the acceleration was. Driving my new Born was as good as the test drive. I was a bit apprehensive about how easy recharging would be.

We already had solar installed at our house, so we had a 3-phase 22 kW Wallbox charger installed while we waited for my Born to be delivered. Most of the driving I do is around town, so recharging is so easy. I usually recharge during the day when it is sunny. Our electricity bill was $96 in credit after the first quarter of owning the car.

The first settings changes I made were:

  • Change the unlocking setting to unlock all doors not just the driver’s door.
  • Turn off all the annoying beeps and sounds for the haptic buttons, etc.
  • Change the display to show “range since charging” rather than “since start” or “long term”. (press on steering wheel to cycle through options)
  • The volume haptic buttons on the steering wheel are unfortunately too easy to press inadvertently. I bought a steering wheel cover to reduce this. It is also better for carpal tunnel problems.

I found it useful to activate the 360-degree camera when parking by flicking into reverse and then back into drive. The air conditioning works well. Though, there aren’t any rear vents. I have found the easiest way to adjust the ventilation is to set the fan speed to 3 and then open and close the vents as required.

I have a Samsung phone and decided to buy an AAWireless dongle which communicates between the car and an Android phone using wifi and Bluetooth. This obviates the need to have the phone plugged into one of the car’s USB-C ports via a cable.

The diagram for radar is very cute. It changes the vehicle shown in front between a car, a truck, and motorbike. The adaptive cruise control is great. There are three distance levels available — I find the closest one sufficient.

Cupra Born
Free AC charging (byo cable) at the local Raiders club. Photo courtesy of Ann Robinson.

Around Town & Short Trips

I have found that I am still in the habit of recharging on a similar cycle to my ICE car. When I’m driving around town, I recharge when my charge drops to around 60%. I initially recharged to 80% as suggested for EVs, but after seeing a podcast on how minimal the degradation of the battery is when charging more I now charge up to 90%. The average battery usage is around 15.9 kWh/100 km locally. It increases to 17.9 kWh/100 km when driving at 100 km/h.

I found the centre console screen is prone to overheating because it rises above the dash and is subject to direct sun either when parked or while driving. I have reduced this problem by using a reflective screen behind the console and using sunshades when parked.

If I’m heading down the coast, a 2.5 hour trip, I charge to 100% the night before. The 200 km trip there leaves 60% of the battery remaining. I use slightly more on the return trip. We use a granny charger when we reach our destination or eat at a local restaurant and use their free 22 kW chargers.

The Cupra has amazing acceleration. Leaving traffic lights when they turn green, it often leaves the ICE cars in my dust. The car is so responsive and fun to drive. The suspension, steering, and sound system seem fine.

The Cupra Born has enough buttons in easy reach and drives in a way that is similar enough to my previous ICE car that it didn’t take long to feel comfortable. The exterior design is so stylish that it turns heads. Strangers come up to me in the street and want to know about it because it looks so good.

In preparation for doing a road trip, I downloaded PlugShare, ABRP (a better route planner), and apps for the charging networks — NRMA, Evie, Chargefox, BP Pulse, Exploren, and Tesla. I registered and set up the payment type for each of the apps and tried out some of the public chargers to familiarise myself with how they work in real-world situations.

Road Trip

Our first road trip was from Canberra to Mooloolaba via Brisbane via the east coast — approximately 1200 km. We started our trip with 100% charge. I worked out our stops based on our usual pattern for road trips. The plan wasn’t to charge at every stop we made. However, the first stop for the day was a coffee stop and then after that we stopped to charge every two hours after that. The first charging stop was Evie (2 × 150 kW) in Campbelltown. It took 40 minutes to charge from 62% to 99%.

Cupra Born
First trip to Mollymook Beach, NSW. Photo courtesy of Ann Robinson.

We recorded all of our charging stops, and for each of them recorded the charging network, the charging speed available, the number of chargers, starting and ending battery level, kWh input, cost per kW, total cost for charge, and whether the stop had good food options.

On day 1, we charged twice en route plus a 100% charge at Thrumster before our stay overnight in Port Macquarie. On day 2, we charged twice en route and at our destination, Bracken Ridge. We spent 3 nights in Brisbane before heading to our final destination, Mooloolaba. There is only one set of fast chargers (BP Pulse) in the vicinity and these are in Maroochydore and not near shopping or dining facilities.

We took the trip south easier, with overnight stops at Coffs Harbour and Hornsby. This turned out to be a good move, as there were two days of torrential rain. The automatic wipers worked really well during the heavy downpours.

On our trip north we had an orange triangle warning light come on with a message about parking not being available, just after we left Ballina. It was a bit disconcerting, so we pulled over and contacted Cupra Assist, which is on the sticker on the front windscreen. It turned out to be pointless. The recorded message gave three options, and after selecting option #1, it just repeated the same options over again and never actually got through to a person. Next, we tried the listed number for Cupra in Ballina, which was no help either. Our final option was to call Cupra in Canberra. Initially, I was told I wasn’t allowed to be put through to technical support even though the operator couldn’t give me any help. After a delay, we were put through to technical support. It turned out to be a simple fix. … He suggested cleaning the bugs and dirt off the sensors and turning off the car for a minute to reset the error message.

At that point, I didn’t even know there was a start/stop button located on the right-hand side of the steering wheel column behind the steering wheel. Having followed the instructions, we set off again and thankfully didn’t have the problem again.

Overheating by the infotainment console, AAWireless dongle, or my Android phone has occurred regularly during long drives. This manifests by a “phone is getting too hot” message and/or the centre console rebooting or refreshing, which is annoying, especially if relying on Google Maps. I have managed to avoid this by buying a heat sink from Jaycar ($5.95) and installing it on the warm spot of the AAWireless dongle and in addition removing the phone cover.

Some charging stations had no available chargers, so we would move on. Being uncertain about the availability of chargers, we didn’t let the battery drop below 30%. In fact, 36% was the lowest we let the battery drop to. For the range we charged between (i.e., 37% to +90%), it probably wasn’t worth paying extra for ultra-fast charging, as the ultra-fast speed occurs at the beginning of charging and drops off as the battery charges closer to 80%, and even more as it approaches 100%.

We found it easier to use RFID cards rather than the app to start charging. Some displays on the chargers are very difficult to see when the sun shines on them. RFID cards don’t rely on being able to see the screen or go through the steps on the app. An Evie or BP Pulse RFID card can be registered for use on the Chargefox app. NRMA members receive 10% discount when using NRMA and Chargefox/NRMA chargers. Overall, our public charging costs worked out to be 10 cents per kilometre.

I still need to come to terms with the idea that the car doesn’t need to be charged as often on long trips or to 100%. During busy times such as school holidays, long weekends, and even some weekends, the charging capacity of public charges can drop significantly, especially at service stations. It most likely occurs because the total electricity availability by the site is fixed, so when there are a lot of cars using the petrol pumps and using the dining facilities, then less is available for the EV chargers. This became evident when we used the same charging facility on the trip up and down. I suggest that during busy times it may be quicker to get off the highway and charge in a nearby town.

Cupra Born
First charge on road trip Canberra to Brisbane. Photo courtesy of Ann Robinson.

6 Months of Ownership

I have owned my Cupra Born for six months now and still enjoy driving it. It is great for long road trips as well as around town.

The Cupra Born has quickly become our primary vehicle due to how cheap it is to use around town and between Canberra and Mollymook. It is fun to drive, and overtaking is a breeze. The most annoying thing is having to adjust the driver’s seat manually when changing drivers.

Sometimes the automatic braking can be a bit disconcerting. There have been occasions when the Born has slammed on the brakes while reversing out of a carpark when nothing was there.

When adaptive cruise control is engaged it will sometimes detect a vehicle when it is in the overtaking lane and slow the Born in case the vehicle is about to change into the lane.

I have used the park assist on a couple of occasions. It takes a leap of faith to use it. Once it is initiated, using the brake exits the park assist mode. I am still finding it difficult to park at shopping centres because the steep slope of the bonnet makes it hard to determine how close the car is when parking.

Overall, I love my Cupra Born.

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