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In-depth reviews

Cupra Tavascan review

Cupra’s first electric SUV is the beginning of a new chapter for this growing brand, and a very promising one at that

Overall rating

4.0 out of 5

Pros

  • Impressive battery range
  • Overall sense of quality
  • Distinctive appearance

Cons

  • Disconcerting brakes
  • Set to be expensive
  • Haptic switchgear

Cupra Tavascan verdict

After making a respectable EV debut with the Born hatchback, Cupra’s first fully-electric SUV is another clear step in the right direction. The Cupra Tavascan is spacious enough for family car use, refined on the move and fitted with enough unique touches to separate it from the clutch of related VW Group models on the same MEB platform. Its unusual shape helps it to stand out even further, too.

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UK pricing hasn’t been officially announced yet, but what we do know is that Cupra is aiming for a starting figure of around £47,500. That’s a substantial pile of cash, so we’d hoped that the Tavascan would be a lot more exciting to drive than it actually is. It’s no slouch but there’s little engagement to be had from behind the wheel. The Tavascan is a high quality electric coupe-SUV but, contrary to the brand’s image, it’s not really an all-out excitement machine.

Details, specs and alternatives

The Cupra Tavascan is one of the most important cars yet for this relatively young brand. While the Born, Leon and Formentor have all proved reasonably successful, each has very close relatives elsewhere in the VW Group. Although it uses familiar technology, the Tavascan is much more of a bespoke Cupra creation. In a way, it’s the first time Cupra has been allowed to truly follow its own path.

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While electric coupe-SUVs are far from rare in today’s market, the Tavascan has been designed to cater for a slightly different sector of the market. It sits a lot lower than its Volkswagen ID.5 and Skoda Enyaq cousins, but it still has the typical high-riding SUV stance. The theory, at least, is that this will help it to appeal to those who desire a solid combination of both performance and practicality.

Of course, there’s still plenty of choice when it comes to electric SUVs, even ones with a sleeker ‘coupe-SUV’ look. The Tavascan has to face the likes of the Smart #3, BMW iX2 and Volvo EC40 and if buyers aren’t too fussed about the coupe aspect, there’s also the Tesla Model Y, Volvo EX30, Kia EV6 and Ford Mustang Mach-e, just to name a few.

Two versions of the Tavascan will be available. The first is the entry-level model (simply called the Tavascan) which is powered by a single motor sending 286bhp to the rear wheels. 0-62mph is dealt with in a brisk 6.8 seconds, and it’ll go on to a top speed of 111mph.

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For the more speed-oriented folks out there, there’s the range-topping Tavascan VZ. This has a twin-motor setup for four-wheel drive and produces a combined 335bhp. This shaves the Tavascan’s 0-62mph sprint time down to 5.6 seconds, but top speed remains the same at 111mph.

Both variants of the Tavascan sit on the latest version of VW’s MEB platform. They also share the same 77kWh battery pack, with both claiming well over 300 miles of battery range.

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Pricing is yet to be officially announced, but Cupra is aiming for a starting price of around £47,500 for the entry-level Tavascan, increasing to around £55,000 for the VZ. This kind of money puts Cupra’s SUV towards the more premium end of the market, so there’s a decent helping of standard kit on offer.

Every Tavascan comes with a 15-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, Matrix LED headlights, a 12-speaker Sennheiser sound system and bucket seats. There’s also a generous helping of safety tech including park assist, active cruise control and lane-keeping assist.

Range, battery size & charging

ModelRangeWallbox charge timeRapid charge
Tavascan353 miles10hrs 30mins (0-100%, 7.4kW)30mins (10-80%, 135kW)
Tavascan VZ324 miles10hrs 30mins (0-100%, 7.4kW)30mins (10-80%, 135kW)

Both versions of the Cupra Tavascan are powered by the same Volkswagen-sourced 77kWh battery pack. Although the peak 135kW rapid-charging speed isn’t exactly phenomenal by today’s standards, it still allows a 10-80% top-up to be completed in around half an hour, provided you hook up to a capable charger.

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The Tavascan does have a figure that’s a bit more eye-catching, though, and that is the claimed maximum range. In entry-level form, Cupra claims that the Tavascan can cover up to 353 miles on the WLTP combined cycle. The dual-motor VZ may be more powerful, but this doesn't sacrifice too much in terms of range as it also claims up to 324 miles on a single charge.

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If you’re charging it up at home, the 77kWh battery should take around ten and a half hours when connected to a typical 7.4kWh home wallbox charger.

Running costs & insurance

The Cupra badge has quickly developed into a pretty desirable one, and it needs to be as the Tavascan’s pricing is set to start from around £47,500 for the base model. If you want the full-fat VZ, you’ll need to part with at least £55,000. 

These are pretty substantial numbers but, as with all electric cars, you’ll soon make some of your money back by avoiding VED road tax until April 2025, as well as emissions-based charges. Company car buyers can also enjoy the usual 2% Benefit-in-Kind tax rate.

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The Cupra Tavascan is yet to be assigned to its insurance groups, but we expect premiums will be on the higher side when taking this electric SUV’s price tag and performance into account. To give you something of an idea, the Volkswagen ID.5 sits in groups 35-40.

Performance, motor & drive

Model0-62mphTop speedDriven wheelsPower
Tavascan6.8s111mphRear286bhp
Tavascan VZ5.6s111mphFour335bhp

The Cupra Born is often referred to as an electric hot hatch, even if it isn’t quite on the same performance level as the mighty Hyundai Ioniq 5 N, and Cupra’s combustion-powered range also possesses a healthy dose of the excitement factor. Because of this lineage, it’d be safe to assume that the Tavascan follows a similar path, and it does, at least for the most part.

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For the biggest thrills, you’ll want the VZ. Its four-wheel drive powertrain produces a combined 335bhp and 545Nm of torque. Plant your right foot and the twin motors are pleasingly responsive with a strong initial delivery of torque. As the Tavascan climbs up to higher speeds, though, things start to ease off and the power delivery is less intense. This isn’t a slow car, but there’s no chance of it keeping pace with the similarly-priced Tesla Model Y Performance in a drag race.

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When the Tavascan reaches the corners, things remain pretty good as the steering is quick and has an enjoyable weight to it. This Cupra also has the best ride quality of any MEB platform car to date, with things staying nicely under control whenever it hits larger bumps. Smaller imperfections can still be felt, but they certainly aren’t intolerable.

One area where the Tavascan really falls short, though, is the brakes. The middle pedal has a mushy feel to it, and the transition between mechanical and regenerative braking is a bit jarring. This makes it difficult to stop smoothly, especially when driving at higher speeds.

Interior, dashboard & infotainment

The Tavascan’s unique design continues on the inside, and it’s a far cry from Cupra’s previous interiors. The curvaceous dashboard blends into a central division between the driver and passenger, and at the epicentre is a sizeable 15-inch touchscreen.

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This new design is adorned with a mixture of synthetic materials, such as faux suede and neoprene. All of these materials are pleasant to the touch and give a reassuring sense of overall quality, while the ambient lighting helps to further boost the Tavascan’s rather luxurious aura.

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The 15-inch touchscreen features VW Group’s latest user interface, and this software is clear and easy to fathom with all of the key functions being quick to find. Alternatively, you can always use the standard-fit Apple CarPlay or Android Auto functionality. Unfortunately, the infamous VW Group haptic switchgear can be found on the centre console and steering wheel, and these panels are still frustrating to use.

Boot space, seating & practicality

LengthWidthHeightBoot space
4,644mm1,861mm1,597mm540 litres

Although it has a slightly compact appearance on the outside, the Cupra Tavascan offers an impressive amount of space on the inside, meaning it’ll be well-suited to serving as a family car. Even without the rear seats folded, there’s 540 litres of boot space to use, and the flat floor and large opening make loading the Tavascan an easy task.

Despite the sloping roof, there’s also a generous amount of both head and legroom for the rear passengers, and the Cupra’s flat floor allows middle-seat occupants to slide across with minimal fuss. If you aren’t carrying anyone in the back, these seats will fold almost completely flat to allow for even more luggage, but larger objects can be tricky to fit due to the roofline.

Reliability & safety rating

The testers at Euro NCAP are yet to get their hands on the Tavascan, but we’re making the bet that it should be destined for a full five-star rating. Not only will Cupra have built its electric SUV with the latest, most stringent safety testing criteria in mind, but the Tavascan is fitted with plenty of standard active safety tech, too. Systems such as autonomous emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring and active cruise control all make an appearance.

It’ll be a while before we can accurately determine the Tavascan’s reliability, but given that electric cars have fewer components, it should remain at least mostly trouble free. All other cars based on the MEB platform have good track records, too.

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