The past few years have seen a wealth of new car brands spun off their parent companies. Volvo begets Polestar, Hyundai begets Genesis, Citroën begets DS, and Seat begets the parent company of the car that's this test's focus of attention: the Cupra Born.
Despite all the marketers and product planners in the world, the launches of some these brands have seemed strangely off-kilter. Polestar, pitched as an electric brand, was launched with a plug-in hybrid. Genesis is also supposed to be modern and high-tech, but its first four cars have been extremely traditional in chasing the German manufacturers.
And then there is Cupra, which has existed since the 1990s as Seat’s performance brand. Its marketing doesn’t mention it very often any more, but the name is actually a contraction of cup and racing, to reference Seat’s activity in rallying with the Seat Ibiza kit car in the 1990s. Today’s Cupra still serves to make performance versions of Seats, but its remit has widened to be a sportier, sub-Audi premium brand.
It’s getting rather crowded within the Volkswagen Group, so Cupra really needs an identity of its own. It started forging that personality with the Formentor, but its second model, the electric Born, bears an uncanny resemblance to the Volkswagen ID 3. Does the Born sufficiently differentiate itself from the VW and does it tell us any more about what Cupra stands for? We find out with the help of a high-spec 201bhp version.