The Cupra Born is now arriving in Australia, but it has left some things at home back in Europe.
Despite a fairly healthy list of standard equipment in the sole specification on offer to Australian buyers, local versions of the Born miss out on key features available elsewhere in the line-up including Travel Assist – the VW Group’s semi-autonomous highway cruising assistant – as well as wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The brand’s head of product and planning, Jeff Shafer, told CarExpert that a technical issue with the MEB platform’s connected vehicle architecture is to blame.
“It was really important for us from the first day of evaluating the business case of whether or not to bring Cupra to Australia to make sure that EVs are part of the launch – and Born was a really important part of that,” Mr Shafer said.
“The Born had only been developed as a connected vehicle. We weren’t able to, in the timeframe, develop the connectivity functions [for Australia] – there are some technical reasons behind that – but we knew we needed to have that car in the initial phase of Cupra, so the factory developed this version for us that doesn’t have the connectivity function, which does affect a few of the vehicle’s systems.”
“But, what it does mean is that we’ve brought that car to market in an extremely short time frame. Within the Group, we are the first to bring an MEB platform car to market, and what i think we do have in the Born is a really complete package in terms of the range, driving, and the functions we’ve got in the car,” Mr Shafer added.
When quizzed about the prospects of brining connected vehicle tech to market, which should also bring the aforementioned missing features to local Born models, Mr Shafer hinted at future running changes.
“Connectivity will be something that we’ll look at over the next few years to develop and bring in and add to the core, but we’ll be looking to improve it year on year,” Mr Shafer said.
Beyond the addition of tech features available in other markets, Cupra’s Australia product boss also stated the local arm is looking into bringing the entry-level 58kWh variant, which should see the Born’s entry price creep well below the current $59,990 asking price.
“So we’ve started with the big battery with e-Boost. And I think that, a lot of our research has shown that range is a really big driver in the EV space in the short term, and we wanted to bring that really compelling offer with 511km of range for under $60,000,” Mr Shafer said.
“But, we’ll certainly look at the 58kWh battery as well, and I think as people’s understanding and shifting of mindset from how you drive and experience a combustion-engined vehicle to how EVs can play different roles in different driving needs, that would be a good addition to the range.”
“It’s something that we’re open to and we’ll be looking at. It’s not in the short term, but we’d certainly look to investigate that further,” Mr Shafer added.
Cupra offers a smaller 58kWh battery pack in overseas markets like Europe and the UK, with both the 170kW e-Boost drivetrain and a lower-spec 150kW motor available.
The 150kW 58kWh Born in the UK quotes a combined driving range of 424km on the WLTP cycle, while the 170kW e-Boost motor with the smaller battery drops that slightly to 420km. While it loses range compared to the 77kWh varaint, the e-Boost 58kWh’s lighter battery unit means the Born’s 0-100 time drops to a hot hatch-like 6.6s.
Australia currently only gets the larger 77kWh battery with the 170kW e-Boost drive motor, which accelerates from 0-100 in 7.0 seconds and offers 511km of range on the WLTP cycle.
In the UK, the 58kWh battery with 170kW motor saves nearly £3000 ($5658) compared to the 77kWh version. So you can see Cupra Australia potentially being able to offer an electric hot hatch for around $55,000 in the future, which would be something of a bargain when you consider a VW Golf GTI currently retails for $55,490 plus on-roads.
Stay tuned for our Australian launch review coming at 7:00PM AEST on Thursday May 4.
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