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Ora Funky Cat review: Style and substance make this EV a tempting proposition

A spacious cabin and good looks work in the Ora Funky Cat’s favour, but range and driving dynamics aren’t quite on a par with rivals

Ora Funky Cat

Everyone has a take on the new Ora Funky Cat from Chinese car maker Great Wall. “It’s a take-off on the Mini.” “No, it’s a rejig of the Beetle.” “Well, I can see a blown-up Fiat 500.″

In fact, Great Wall has a clowder of Ora cats, one of which – the Punk Cat – is a pretty complete replica of the Beetle. It has also showcased the Lightning Cat, which takes a lot of styling cues from Porsche. Neither is on sale here as yet, but watch this space.

Whatever your take on Great Wall’s German retro design trends, it’s fair to say the Funky Cat is keeping good company with the comparisons that people make. It might ruffle a few feathers in Munich, but people generally like the Mini so if you build a car that looks like it, you are surely on the right track.

Even the most hard-nosed cynics we encountered seemed smitten by this Ora. Until we told them the rest of the name

On looks alone, we could easily see this EV becoming a big sales hit. Even the most hard-nosed cynics we encountered seemed smitten by this Ora. Until we told them the rest of the name, in which case they returned to their normal air of ridicule.


The focus on design isn’t just on the outside. Inside you have a cabin that could match many premium-brand rivals. There is a nice mix of colours and textures, the fit and finish is as good as you get on most mainstream brands, and while the controls sometimes seem bizarrely located, you find your way around the Funky Cat’s buttons and menus pretty quickly.

Ora Funky Cat

The Funky Cat is also larger than you might expect. While it looks like a supermini, inside could rival a regular family hatchback, albeit with a much smaller boot of just 228 litres.

Rear seat legroom is on a par with family saloons, though comfort is compromised by the fact the floor is high relative to the seat so adults end up sitting with their knees up. In fairness, it’s a trait of many EVs where the big battery pack is stored in the floorpan.

Priced at €32,000 for the entry level model and €40,000 for this version, it’s expensive for a Chinese newcomer that will undoubtedly be perceived as the low-cost entry brand until it gets more tyres on the roads. Yet, what you get is impressive.

There is a lot of tech as standard, including electric front seats, adaptive cruise control, wireless phone charging and a panoramic roof. Opt for the higher grade and you even get a massaging function in those front seats and an automatic park assist function.

Safety features abound on the Funky Cat and it secured a five-star rating from Euro NCAP. However, it does border on the excessive, in part due to its facial recognition system that constantly monitors the driver and scolds you when you momentarily cast your eye to the side or towards the touchscreen.

The end result was a car that had all the pace of its predecessor, but none of the wheelspin

Having a car that upbraids you like an uptight schoolteacher isn’t going to be everyone’s idea of a pleasant drive. Its various lane keeping systems can also drive your to distraction, with a cacophony of beeps and alerts policing your every move.

The Funky Cat is powered by an electric motor that produces a respectable 120 horsepower. It’s not going to set any speed records, but it’s certainly not sluggish either, with a 0-100km/h time of 8.2 seconds.

The downside is perhaps in the driving. The steering is light and generally responsive, but this Ora suffers the same plight of early generation electric cars: wheelspin.

Basically, it struggles to convert all that immediate electric power into forward motion. Press the accelerator moderately hard and the tyres lose grip. In front-wheel drive cars like the Ora, that also means jerky torque steer.

Having a car that upbraids you like an uptight schoolteacher isn’t going to be everyone’s idea of a pleasant drive

In the pre-electric age, it was most commonly experienced in front-wheel drive hot hatches. If you know what to expect, then it’s annoying; if you don’t, then you might be in for an unpleasant surprise. Many mainstream drivers might not appreciate the sensation.

Wheelspin was an issue with the likes of the first-generation Nissan Leaf, the Renault Zoe and even the first BMW i3 (although it was rear-wheel drive).

BMW has proved to be one of the best at tackling this issue. For the second generation i3 (and the Mini Electric), it developed a traction control system that responded 50 times faster than the previous version. The end result was a car that had all the pace of its predecessor, but none of the wheelspin. For Great Wall engineers, I think it would be worth giving BMW a call. If you are going to mimic the Mini Electric’s looks, then you might as well follow through on some of its engineering.

Ora Funky Cat

Of course, for many buyers, the real test of any electric car remains its range. You can opt for the 48kWh lithium Ion phosphate battery pack claiming a 310km range in the €32,000 version, or the 63kWh Ternary Lithium battery pack claiming 420km in the €40,000 Pro+ version.

Our test car was the latter and, in real-life driving, delivered upwards of 360km on a full charge. That’s very respectable, less than that of what we would class as its chief rival, the fellow-Chinese MG4.

The MG in Excite Long Range specification claims 450km on a single charge. It also comes with a price tag of €30,995.

True, the Ora Funky Cat is much better-looking, and the interior is opulent compared to the dull black plastic affair in the MG. But are looks enough to justify the €10,000 price walk between the two?

The Funky Cat will win favour with many simply because it’s an EV that looks cute and is surprisingly roomy. It’s up against some equally cute small car rivals, notably the Honda e and Fiat 500e. For our money, it delivers more than both of these, and indeed on the Mini Electric.

But when head rules heart and we opt for substance over style, its Chinese rival, the MG4, still seems to have an edge when it comes to range, driving and price.

Lowdown: Ora Funky Cat 400 Pro+

Power: 127kW electric motor powered by a 63kWh battery pack and putting out 170hp

Official range: 420km (DC charging up to 67kW)

0-100km/h: 8.2 seconds

Price: €39,995 (starts at €31,995 for 48kWh battery version)

Our rating: 3/5

Verdict: Arguably the best looking mid-priced EV on the market right now, but it doesn’t quite match its main rival when it comes to range, driving or price.

Michael McAleer

Michael McAleer

Michael McAleer is Motoring Editor, Innovation Editor and an Assistant Business Editor at The Irish Times