The Cupra Born electric car is a step closer to Australian showrooms.
The Cupra Born electric car has commenced testing on Australian roads ahead of an expected arrival in local showrooms by the end of this year – priced close to Volkswagen Golf hot hatch money.
It is said to be the first test of the Volkswagen-based electric-car platform outside Europe and the USA.
Cupra – part of the Volkswagen-Audi-Skoda group – will also become the latest car brand to adopt fixed prices for new motor vehicles in Australia.
Honda Australia switched to fixed prices from July last year and Mercedes-Benz did the same from this month.
The head of Cupra in Australia, Ben Wilks, told Drive the Cupra Born electric car was being tested locally out of an abundance of caution, and was a normal part of the pre-launch checklist.
“We have three Cupra Borns here … to make sure everything is comprehensively understood and known about the car,” said Mr Wilks. “Testing in Europe has already taken place, but it’s important to test in the market here.
“We are testing all operational aspects of the car: all of the driver assistance systems, the information systems, to make sure that we’ve got a comprehensive overview of how that car operates here.”
Cupra Australia says a small team of engineers will clock up an estimated 10,000 kilometres combined.
“We’ll test until we’ve ticked all the boxes that we want to tick from an engineering point of view,” said Mr Wilks. “The engineers that are driving will be Australians, and obviously there’s data logging that’s going back to our team in Spain.”
Although Cupra is a spinoff brand from Spanish nameplate Seat – a part of the giant Volkswagen Group – the Cupra Born is made in Germany on the same production line as the Volkswagen ID.3 hatch.
The decision to air-freight three vehicles from the other side of the world for testing should be interpreted as a sign of how important Australia is to the Cupra brand globally, said Mr Wilks.
“This demonstrates how seriously the Cupra brand is taking Australia. It’s the first test of this vehicle outside Europe … and we want to have this car absolutely right for the market,” said Mr Wilks.
The auto executive said the Cupra Born aims to bring driving excitement to the electric-car class.
“It’s all about celebrating the love of driving in a new age of electrification,” said Mr Wilks. “We believe we will be the only car company with an affordable electric vehicle where we can talk proudly about the handling, not just the straight line acceleration.”
While timing and pricing are yet to be confirmed, Mr Wilks said the Cupra Born should be in Australian showrooms by the end of this year – just a few months after the petrol and hybrid hatchback and SUV ranges arrive in July – priced close to Volkswagen hot hatch money.
The new-generation Volkswagen Golf GTI and Golf R cost from $55,000 to $70,000 in round numbers.
“Price is not finalised for Australia,” said Mr Wilks. “But we’re targeting … in the vicinity of a performance Golf. If you look at a price point in that range, we believe that’s what customers want from a performance electric hatchback.”
As for timing, Mr Wilks added: “Pending the outcome of local testing, we’re pretty confident that we’re looking in good shape to be able to land the Cupra Born towards the end of 2022.”
The Volkswagen-owned Cupra brand is due to arrive in Australia with a fixed-price business model, distributing its vehicles via about a dozen showrooms nationally from July 2022.
Initially, the Cupra range in Australia will comprise the Leon hatch and Formentor SUV – both with a choice of turbo petrol or plug-in hybrid power – and the Ateca SUV available solely with with turbo petrol power.
Joshua Dowling has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years, spending most of that time working for The Sydney Morning Herald (as motoring editor and one of the early members of the Drive team) and News Corp Australia. He joined CarAdvice / Drive in late 2018, and has been a World Car of the Year judge for 10 years.