Long-term report: Getting to grips with our Cupra Born’s tech

Ted Welford learns more about the technology on this EV

Long-term report: Getting to grips with our Cupra Born’s tech

The majority of new cars are absolutely filled with technology, which in many circumstances is often unused or hardly ever touched.

The likes of park assist, which can autonomously or semi-autonomously get the car into a space, come to mind. You use it once to see if it works, then to show off to your mates, and then after that the button stays dormant.

But this month I’ve been endeavouring to try and use as much of the tech in my long-term Cupra Born as possible, whether for better or worse. I’ve already had this electric car for a good few months, but on a day-to-day basis it’s amazing how often you just jump in and stick to what you know.

(PA)

First up was the satellite navigation, which might not sound all that cutting-edge, but it has a real trick up its sleeve. I usually default to using Google Maps through the brilliant wireless Apple CarPlay, so I’d never actually used the in-built nav before. However, the nav works with the head-up display (one of my favourite features on the Born) and is able to relay ‘live’ arrows onto the display – Cupra calls it augmented reality – showing exactly which lane or exit you need to take, and makes it almost impossible to get the wrong turn.

It’s a really clever feature and one I wish I would use more, but the advantages of having Google Maps’ live traffic data, helping to avoid queues and cut journey times, outweigh the fantastic head-up display’s witchcraft. If only there was some way of integrating the two.

Linking to the navigation element, another particularly clever feature is the predictive adaptive cruise control (ACC). It’s essentially a step above normal ACC as it can control the car’s speed, even without having it activated.

(PA)

Working with the GPS data, it can automatically slow the car down for bends or slower speed limits (going into a 30mph zone, for example), as well as for any traffic that might be moving slower in front. It’s a really futuristic way to drive, and one I really enjoy for the majority of the time as it makes journeys smoother and more comfortable. The exception is if you’re in a rush, where you’d brake later into a corner than the ACC would – though you can override the feature unobtrusively.

Next up was the voice control feature. I must admit I’m never a fan of things like this. I personally don’t want an Alexa in every room of my house telling me information that I could have Googled myself just as quickly. So when I found out the Born’s voice control was activated using the words ‘Hola, Hola’, I won’t pretend I didn’t roll my eyes.

However, I must say it works really well, from being able to ring a contact to putting a favourite song on. But my favourite gimmick is if you just say ‘Hola, Hola, I’m cold’, in your finest attempt at Spanish, it will turn the temperature up automatically, and it can even work out which part of the car the voice is coming from – so if a passenger says it, the climate temperature will go up at their side.

(PA)

Voice control features often struggle with my relatively thick Yorkshire accent, so it’s quite impressive that it could understand it with no qualms, and I’ve increasingly been using it more and more.

One bit of ‘tech’ that I’m still finding quite irksome, despite my best efforts, is the electric window switch. I’ve mentioned it before, but rather than having four separate window switches, there are just the two. You then have to press ‘front’ or ‘rear’ to control the windows that are going down. If the feature worked I don’t think I’d have a problem, but the button never operates the first time. I just can’t fathom why on earth anyone at Cupra thought having four separate switches was an inconvenience.

But aside from this, I’m still loving the Cupra Born and driving it at any opportunity, whether that’s for short bursts or on longer stretches. With colder temperatures kicking in, I’m keen to see what kind of impact this has on its range. I’ll report back soon…

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