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The styling is a matter of taste, but anyone put off by it will be missing out on one of the best-realised EV crossovers there is

Good stuff

Looks (if you like that sort of thing), good to drive, decent range

Bad stuff

Heavy and feels it, cabin design inhibits practicality

Overview

What is it?

Imagine a mid-’20s auto morphological word cloud and the conflation ‘electric crossover-coupé’ will leap out at you in the biggest font. These things are hot hot hot.

The Tavascan is Cupra's take on the electric crossover-coupé genre, and it pushes the stylistic tropes further than any other. This is a VW ID.5 (or Skoda Enyaq Coupé or Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron, take yer pick) done up to the nines. Indeed to the 10s.

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The silhouette and proportions are no different from rivals, mind. See those VW Group siblings, or the Tesla Model Y, Nissan Ariya, Peugeot e-3008, Volvo EC40, Kia EV6 or Lexus RZ450e. But none of them have panelwork with such frantic swelling and wedgy creasing, or so much area of real and fake grilles, or such fashion-forward lighting.

The whole confection is a surprisingly close derivative of a concept car Cupra showed in 2019. There's a lot of self-confidence in Cupra these days as the sporty and extrovert arm of the VW conglomerate. But then, you'll recall that's exactly what the now-moribund Seat brand was once supposed to do until it got distracted into making fat-bottomed Barcelona minicabs like the final generation of Toledo and Altea. Let's hope Cupra keeps its focus.

All-electric?

Yup, it's on the parent Group's MEB platform, so you know the drill. In this case the choices are simple: one battery size, 77kWh useable, connected to either single (RWD) or twin (AWD) motors. It's the twin-motor version, which goes by the name VZ, that we test here.

The rear motor does most of the heavy lifting, a 282bhp permanent-magnet synchronous job. The front one is a simple asynchronous induction motor: that type's advantage, cheapness aside, is that it makes little drag torque when it's not providing drive. It hits a maximum of 107bhp.

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Overall on the AWD model you've got 340bhp and 402lb ft, but only when the control brain calls the front motor into use. Even so it's biased mostly to the rear. That's good for 0-62mph in 5.5 seconds. If you'd been expecting an all-traction car of this much power to accelerate faster than that, know that this Tavascan is all but 2.3 tonnes.

The single-motor version gets the same rear drive unit, and saves about 100kg. Its 0-62mph is 6.8 seconds.

WLTP range on smallest available wheels is 326 miles (20-inch) for the AWD and 355 (19-inch) for the RWD. Those numbers are better than the ones for the notionally similar VW ID.5. That's because aero drag is low – Cd 0.26, albeit with big frontal area – and at the rear is the VW Group's very latest AP550 motor and inverter unit, as seen on the impressively efficient VW ID.7.

So far we haven't had a chance to do a proper range test, but on the basis of experience with the siblings prior to their motor update, we'd expect 250 to 300 miles in the real world for the rear-driver if you resist using the power too much.

The only black spot is that a heat pump and electric seats - which take a lot of load off the cabin heating system - aren't standard. You have to spring for a 'winter pack'. At least that's the case in Spain: UK specs are still being confirmed.

So is it as sporty as it looks?

Well, rivals have problems. They mostly ride badly – Tesla especially, but also the Nissan – or handle like unleavened dough. It's only really the Kia that strikes a satisfactory balance.

And now the Cupra too. Its standard adaptive dampers do a good job of keeping matters under control when you're scuttling along, but de-stress the ride when you're not. The steering's progressive if numb, and once you've got all that mass turned into a corner, the rear-biased balance of the motors' efforts makes it more engaging than you'd expect.

Paddles control the regeneration to give you something else to occupy yourself. The brake pedal itself, mind, isn't as sharp and predictable as the accelerator. Which is a pity.

We haven't tested the RWD version yet, but we suspect that'll be just as satisfying to drive and would give you some money left for an option pack.

Does the shape kill the space?

Not in any of the important ways. The sloping rear glass rules out seats-down transport of wardrobes, but the boot itself beneath the parcel shelf is very much full-sized. Headroom in the back is fine too, as well as leg space.

As with the outside, Cupra's designers and colour-and-trim teams have been given a surprisingly free hand in here. But one of their headline features, the central spine between dash and console, takes away space for what airlines call 'small personal items'.

And if you're worried about the VW Group screen system, well this has their latest software, biggest screen, fastest processor and reconfigurable quick-access screen-buttons. Not as good as physical buttons or climate controls, no, but we managed to go several hours without yelling rude words at it.

What's the verdict?

People have almost stopped saying 'Cupra, never heard of it,' which saves you time explaining the badges

The styling is a matter of taste and will be the thing that turns people on or off the Tavascan. If they're turned off, they're actually missing out on one of the best-realised cars in the class.

The predicted UK entry price of £47,300 looks OK, though our guess is they'll make the winter pack standard and add a grand or so.

It's decent to drive yet comfortable. Performance and efficiency are up to par. The screens more than do the job. And people have almost stopped saying 'Cupra, never heard of it,' which saves you time explaining those illuminated front and rear badges.

The Rivals

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