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Cupra bringing PHEV to Australia next year ahead of Volkswagen, pure EV to follow

John Law

Cupra may be a performance-oriented brand, but it’s also one heavily invested in an electric future.

Spanish performance brand Cupra has confirmed they will launch in Australia with two plug-in hybrid (PHEV) models. The 2022 Formentor and Leon are based on the VW Group’s MQB Evo architecture. When they launch, Cupra will offer three petrol engines as well as plug-in hybrid powertrains.

Previously, Volkswagen had refuted the option of bringing plug-in hybrids to Australia, saying instead the German carmaker would wait for full electrification. However, things look to have changed course somewhat.

Cupra Formentor PHEV 2022-2
Volkswagen was cool about PHEV models, but Cupra has fully committed ahead of next year’s launch.

A cocktail of factors will see Cupra forge ahead with PHEV tech next year. And not least because it “stands for doing things differently”. There is also some increased optimism with the NSW state government offering incentives for electrified vehicles.

The sole PHEV powertrain combines a familiar 1.4L turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine – found in the Mark 8 Golf – with an 81kW electric motor.

Total system outputs are rated at 180kW and 400Nm, making the electrified vehicles a match for the most potent petrol-powered options. The Formentor is AWD, while the Leon is front-drive only.

new CUPRA Leon ehybrid five door magnetic tech matte compact spo
Cupra will also offer the Leon hot hatch with a PHEV powertrain next year.

Both utilise a 12.8kWh (gross) lithium-ion battery with a maximum charge rate of 3.6kW. Cupra claims an electric-only range of between 55-60km, depending on the model.

The PHEV option stands as an exciting option in the Cupra range. The hybrid powertrain will offer a unique blend of performance and frugality that will appeal to specific buyers.

With Cupra electrified from the get-go, what about pure EVs?

The Cupra Born was the first EV to be released by the Spanish performance brand. The Born is based on the Volkswagen Group MEB platform shared with the forthcoming ID.3 and Skoda Enyaq.

Cupra Born 2022-6
The Cupra Born is the marque’s first pure EV and it could be here as soon as Volkswagen’s ID cars.

In its most potent form, the Born is slated to achieve over 500km of range in the WLTP cycle. That’s from an 82kWh (77kWh usable) lithium-ion battery pack. Claimed outputs are 170kW and 310Nm sent to the rear wheels. 

Ben Wilks, Cupra Australia brand director, showed interest in the Born, confirming Australia was “in discussion about bringing (Born) to the group”. 

VW Group Australia EV Manager, Kurt McGuinness, said that the Born coming to Australia was “definitely a question of when not if”.

Cupra Born 2022
The Born sits on the same MEB platform as the Volkswagen ID.4 and Skoda Enyaq.

According to Mr Wilks, one of Cupra’s advantages being new to the Australian market is that the brand can be “more nimble” in product planning terms.

When pressed as to whether the Born might beat Volkswagen’s ID vehicles to Australian shores, Mr McGuinness reiterated that the ID.3 and ID.4 will come down under, but that “VW production schedules are mammoth… the cars rolling out the factory already have markets allocated to them for a long time (before Australia)”.

“With Cupra, Australia is a new market. We’re the first global market to carry the brand as a standalone product,” Mr McGuinnes continued, mentioning that the NSW state government’s latest policies have “been really positive and moved the dial for us” in favour of bringing EVs to market.

Cupra Tavascan Concept
The Tavascan concept will reach production after the Born, according to Cupra.

What we have to look forward to for now is the rollout of exciting new PHEV models from Cupra. Pure EVs such as the Born will follow shortly after.