You’ll be forgiven for being utterly unfamiliar with car manufacturer Ora, a subsidiary of China’s Great Wall Automotive. The company is notable for getting Fiat’s attention after making a car that the Italian firm thought looked remarkably similar to its Panda (Italian courts agreed) and more recently for striking a partnership with BMW to produce the Mini Electric in China). Ora is the giant’s latest electric offering.
The Funky Cat—yes, it’s called that—is Ora’s first foray into Europe. The car has found fans all over the internet, thanks to its cute design, friendly price point, and tech-heavy specs. After something of a wait, it’s finally available in the UK, so we spent some time with it.
The Funky Cat has an edge on price compared to key rivals like the Cupra Born and Renault Megané eTech. Coming in at £31,995 ($37,962), and with few options to throw on top, it’s substantially cheaper than its more established rivals. And you won’t find batteries uncomfortably lodged in a chassis originally built for a gas engine; this platform is purpose-built for an electric powertrain.
Looking at the specs, you may wonder what the catch is. A 48-kWh battery pack sends 171 PS to the front wheels, which allows for a sprightly 8.3-second 0-62-mph time and a 99-mph top speed. Range is 193 miles on a charge, Ora says. On a 100-kW DC charger, the battery tops off in under 45 minutes, while a 7-kW home charger will take understandably longer.
However, that’s pretty average for a small(ish) EV. It’s the tech inside that seems impressive: a voice assistant, cameras that can tell if you’re tired (or have left a child or pet in the car), a 10.25-inch infotainment screen, 360-degree cameras and sensors that can see around the car, internet radio, OTA updates to add features as you go, wireless phone charging, adjustable drive modes, adjustable steering weights… it seems to have absolutely everything going for it.
But a closer look at the car itself reveals a few flaws. Its paint, if caught in the right light, looks like an orange peel (despite being smooth to the touch, it has a strangely dappled effect). Inside, there are scratchy plastics, and no matter how fervently Ora wants you to think its quilted interior fabrics make it premium, they simply don’t. First Edition cars get a clunkily installed badge denoting their status, but it subtracts more than it adds. On the design front, it’s a sweet little thing, but it wouldn’t be out of place in a GTA game.
On the move, its tech is similarly almost there. There won’t be Apple CarPlay or Android Auto until the first half of 2023, so you need to rely on Ora’s own navigation efforts. It’s a decent effort, but audio instructions are often confusing, and at one point it warned of “a congestion” ahead.
The infotainment screen has all the right toys, but the UI isn’t intuitive. Loaning the car to a friend will result in phone calls asking how to swap between nav and radio screens. On the radio front, the car comes with a 4G connection that enables internet radio and OTA services. So far, Ora will commit to 12 months of service, with more available via paid subscription further down the line. Web radio is a neat idea, but if the signal is patchy it stops working. It’s slow to buffer, and so the Funky Cat’s DAB tuner is far better suited to the job.