Cupra's first two models have been dynamic hits so far. What about this new electric crossover?

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The Cupra Tavascan is a close relative to a fairly safe bunch of Volkswagen Group siblings.

It can count the Audi Q4 E-tron, Skoda Enyaq and Volkswagen ID 4 as siblings, sharing the same 'hard points' and footprint, but whereas that trio would all be the types to have 9-5 office jobs and have their haircuts booked on a rolling basis every six weeks, Cupra’s offering is more likely to have never got back from its gap year, facing questions from the Australian authorities about its visa status.

The Tavascan is the third model created solely for the brand sired out of Seat, and the second of those to be fully electric. It arrives five years after a concept car of the same that was called “the brand’s dream” and goes on sale in July, with deliveries starting at the end of the year. Production comes exclusively from China for the first time in a Seat group car. 




cupra tavascan review 2024 02 side panning

The market the Tavascan is being launched into is perhaps the most burgeoning out there; it’s easier to name car makers not launching a 4.5-ish-metre-long electric car that’s more raised than a traditional family hatchback due to the need to store batteries in the floor but lower than a traditional SUV due to the need to improve the aerodynamics for greater efficiency.

On the tape, the Tavascan is 4644mm long, 1861mm wide and 1597mm tall, with a wheelbase of 2766mm – dimensions all largely familiar to the other Volkswagen Group crossovers that use the MEB architecture. 

It would be good to see the Tavascan sit a few centimetres lower and be a few centimetres wider. Then it would have real presence

It’s larger than the Cupra Formentor and doesn’t quite have the nothing-else-like-it presence of the smaller car yet it’s still a statement design.

The model has the sharp styling we’ve come to expect from the brand and, as noted, it looks distinct from the cars it is closely related to. You can spot the previous concept car in there and there are plenty of bold touches, including the full-width light bar at the rear. All the alloy wheel designs - sized between 19in and 21in - are striking too and, as usual on Cupra models, the tendency is towards darker colours with copper-coloured trim.

It can’t fully hide its MEB underpinning in its proportions, with the car lacking a little width relative to its height, but the profile is still sleek and the drag coefficient just 0.26 despite being taller than a conventional hatchback. Size-wise, it’s a class bigger than the Formentor. 



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Some nice touches on the inside lift the Tavascan beyond its rather austere VW Group siblings.

The central spine, effectively a support pillar for the dashboard as a link to the centre console, is one of them but it's a bit of a curiosity functionally and visually, looking like one of the ceilings of a trendy office that leaves the air-con pipes exposed.

The head-up display is one of the better ones and links well with the sat-nav to project directions

Still, there are plenty of interesting shapes and a good material mix for the trim, even if it does have the feeling of being quite jarring and faddish in places. Comfy seats are a plus, as is the impressive 540-litre boot capacity.

The central touchscreen is a relative whopper by MEB standards at 15in and there are no buttons to support it. One unwelcome trait the Tavascan shares with its MEB siblings is how complex it is to use when you want more than a simple function (although thankfully some things like the climate controls are left relatively simple, and a clear driver display features), with multiple presses needed and your face often wearing a puzzled face with what comes back at you.

At least you’re never far away from a beep or tug on the wheel from an active safety system to get your eyes back on the road… 


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Two versions of the car are offered: a single-motor rear-wheel-drive car with 282bhp and a dual-motor all-wheel-drive model with 335bhp. We're testing the latter, badged VZ. 

Both cars use the same 77kWh (usable) battery and the range is up to 353 miles in the single-motor version and 324 miles in the dual-motor. Charging speeds are up to 135kW for both versions.

Power delivery is for the most part well judged. Instant and overwhelming torque from EVs is thankfully being tuned out

There’s promise in the range-topper, with its strong acceleration, yet a bit like with the Polestar 2, you get the sense that a single-motor rear-wheel-drive version could be a sweeter car to drive, with almost 100kg less over the front axle and better efficiency to boot.

Still, there’s plenty to admire in the VZ. Refinement is always impressive and the Tavascan is a happy motorway cruiser, and a quiet companion with it.

There’s always a nice heft and resistance to the Tavascan’s controls at lower speeds, including to the initial step-off, which is far more desirable than being given all the available power when exiting a parking bay and having to slow down jerkily and just as quickly. 

It’s rare for driving modes to make much of a welcome difference in a car, other than sapping all the power in eco mode or becoming a bit of a pastiche of a performance car in the sportiest mode. Yet the Tavascan’s most potent Cupra mode - which even gets its own button on the steering wheel - does indeed show the car is at its best. 

The chassis is stiffened – but not made too stiff – and the extra acceleration is welcome yet not stomach-churning as in other electric cars with similar 0-62mph times. We left it in this mode for the most part because it felt much more akin to a ‘Normal’ mode in demonstrating the Tavascan as its maker intended. 

The wheels can also take a squirt of the accelerator out of the corner without wanting to keep going in the other direction.


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Part of Cupra’s self-defined DNA is to not only have the most distinctive looks inside and out but also the most involving driving experience.

It has already worked wonders with the MEB architecture on the Cupra Born, which is not just the best-driving car of its type in the VW Group but also across the whole mainstream market and twice a winner of recent flagship electric car group tests at Autocar.

It's been a decade and still no crossover has been launched that can corner as well as a Porsche Macan. The Tavascan is the latest to fall short

With the car's extra mass and taller body, Cupra’s engineers were given a tough task to try and replicate the Born’s dynamic prowess in the Tavascan. There has been extensive tuning to the MacPherson-strut front and multi-link rear suspension and optional adaptive DCC dampers on our test car to try and make it one of the class’s more dynamic steers. 

The result is a car that does have the dynamic edge over its VW Group siblings yet falls short of the sharpest edge of the class against the likes of the Polestar 2 and Kia EV6

It’s not the sort of car that really encourages you to go after a series of corners because it can all get a bit jerky, particularly from the slightly odd-feeling brakes when slowing down, at which point the near 2.3-tonne heft really starts to show itself.

The front end still keenly turns in and the wheels can take a squirt of the accelerator out of the corner without wanting to keep going in the other direction, yet while body roll is largely kept in check, the car is held in a slightly odd-feeling upright position after an initial bit of give.

The Tavascan is instead at its most rewarding when driven at everyday speeds. It has nice road manners and is pleasant to drive in fairly humdrum situations, even in lines of traffic. It’s not, then, a leap forward in the way electric cars handle, yet is more agreeable than most to drive. The steering is light but precise, if lacking overall in feel. 

The smoothness of the roads during our test and their superior quality to those in the UK make a judgement of the ride impossible to call - the Peugeot e-3008 rode well on the same roads last year before coming unstuck when we subsequently tested it on more representative asphalt - yet the one or two bumps in the roads next to Cupra’s base for our test drive event did reveal that the Tavascan is likely to be firm.


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The standard Tavascan will cost from £47,300 (no pricing yet for the VZ) and trims are kept pretty simple, with the number of electric motors dictating the version, and then different packs – including Immersive, Adrenaline and Extreme – adding progressively more and increasingly sporty equipment up to 21in alloys and bucket seats.

The Winter Pack, which adds a heat pump, is a must, and this is the only way to get heated seats too, although final UK specifications are subject to change ahead of orders opening in July. 

The optional bucket seats are fantastic in the Born VZ and should be in the Tavascan too

On a fairly warm day in Spain, the indicated range of our dual-motor was 266 miles. You’d expect the single-motor car to push 300 miles of range based on that.


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The Tavascan is a visually and - in the right circumstances - dynamically interesting addition to the electric crossover class, which is fast moving and full of talent.

The bar is already a high one and, on this first acquaintance, the Tavascan feels like the kind of car you’ll need to spec carefully to show it at its very best.

The Tavascan has the feel of a car that if you like the way it looks you won't be put off by the way it drives

Mark Tisshaw

Title: Editor

Mark is a journalist with more than a decade of top-level experience in the automotive industry. He first joined Autocar in 2009, having previously worked in local newspapers. He has held several roles at Autocar, including news editor, deputy editor, digital editor and his current position of editor, one he has held since 2017.

From this position he oversees all of Autocar’s content across the print magazine, autocar.co.uk website, social media, video, and podcast channels, as well as our recent launch, Autocar Business. Mark regularly interviews the very top global executives in the automotive industry, telling their stories and holding them to account, meeting them at shows and events around the world.

Mark is a Car of the Year juror, a prestigious annual award that Autocar is one of the main sponsors of. He has made media appearances on the likes of the BBC, and contributed to titles including What Car?Move Electric and Pistonheads, and has written a column for The Sun.