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2023 Cupra Born electric car draws closer to Australian launch! Spain's new Hyundai Ioniq and Nissan Leaf EV rival arrives for local testing before release

Cupra’s Australian launch is set to be quickly followed by the release of the all-electric Born small hatchback.

The Australian launch of Volkswagen Group’s new Spanish brand, Cupra, is heating up, with the all-electric Born small hatchback having arrived for local testing ahead of its expected release after the first wave of models.

As reported, Cupra will officially enter the Australian market around June with the Leon small hatchback and Ateca and Formentor small SUVs, with the former and latter to be available with three turbo-petrol engines and a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) powertrain.

But the big news is the Born, which Cupra Australia hopes will go on sale as early as late this year. Why? Well, it’s set to be the first mainstream zero-emissions model offered locally by Volkswagen Group, with high overseas demand having so far held up VW and Skoda’s plans.

Cupra Australia director Ben Wilks said: “Born is undoubtedly our halo car, one that embodies all of Cupra’s performance and design allure in a zero-emissions package.”

As far as the local testing is concerned, the first of three Born examples has been freighted to Sydney, with more than 10,000km set to be put on the odometers of each one, marking the first time the small hatchback has been driven outside of Europe.

Speaking to Australian journalists last September, Cupra CEO Wayne Griffiths said: “For us, Australia is more important than many other markets … so we put our resources into fixing the electric car for Australia as an objective, as a priority.”

Mr Griffiths added the Spanish brand is doing all it can “to get a solution for the Cupra Born” in Australia, with it a priority in its 2022 development budget, adding that “the issues are not around emissions or around homologation”.

“The issues are around the online connectivity of the cars and the system behind that, but there are workarounds that we’re working on now in a very pragmatic way, to have the cars ready to work in Australia,” he said.

“The cars are safe; the cars are homologated. It’s just the online connectivity that’s a task, but even if we have to go with the first cars offline, that’s what we will do.”

For reference, the Born is closely related to the VW ID.3, which is yet to be confirmed for low-priority Australia alongside its sibling, the ID.4 mid-size SUV, with Volkswagen Group hoping for a 2023 launch date for its all-electric ID family.

In Europe, the Hyundai Ioniq and Nissan Leaf rival has three powertrain options (110kW, 150kW and 170kW), the choice of rear-wheel drive (RWD) or all-wheel-drive (AWD), and three battery choices (45kWh, 58kWh and 77kWh).