You will be forgiven because he was completely unfamiliar with car manufacturer Ora, a subsidiary of China’s Great Wall Automotive. The company is known for getting Fiat’s attention after creating a car that the Italian company thought was remarkably similar to its Panda (Italian courts agreed) and more recently for partnering with BMW to Mini Electric in China). Ora is the giant’s latest electric offering.
The Funky Cat – yes, that’s what it’s called – is Ora’s first foray into Europe. The car has found fans all over the internet, thanks to its cute design, friendly price and technical specifications. After a bit of a wait, it’s finally available in the UK, so we’ve spent some time with it.
The Funky Cat has a price advantage compared to major rivals such as the Cupra Born and Renault Megané eTech. Priced at £31,995 ($37,962), and with few options to throw on top, it’s significantly cheaper than its more established rivals. And you won’t find batteries uncomfortably stuck in a chassis originally built for a gas engine; this platform was built specifically for an electric powertrain.
Looking at the specs, you might be wondering what the catch is. A 48 kWh battery pack sends 171 horsepower to the front wheels, delivering a scintillating 0-100 km/h time of 8.3 seconds and a top speed of 99 km/h. Range is 193 miles on a charge, says Ora. A 100 kW DC charger will drain the battery in less than 45 minutes, while a 7 kW home charger will understandably take longer.
That’s pretty average for a small(ish) EV, though. It’s the tech inside that seems impressive: a voice assistant, cameras that can tell if you’re tired (or 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 on the go, wireless phone charging, adjustable driving modes, adjustable handlebar weights… it really does seem to have it all.
But a closer look at the car itself reveals a few flaws. The paint, when caught in the right light, looks like an orange peel (despite being smooth to the touch, it has a strange mottled effect). Inside there are scratchy plastics, and as much as Ora would have you think the quilted interior fabrics make it premium, they just don’t. First Edition cars get an awkwardly installed badge that indicates their status, but it subtracts more than it adds. Design-wise, it’s a sweet little thing, but wouldn’t look out of place in a GTA game.
Along the way, the technology is also almost there. There won’t be Apple CarPlay or Android Auto until the first half of 2023, so you’ll have 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 “traffic jam” ahead.
The infotainment screen has all the right toys, but the UI is unintuitive. Lending the car to a friend will result in calls asking how to switch between navigation and radio screens. As for the radio, the car comes with a 4G connection that allows internet radio and OTA services. So far, Ora commits to 12 months of service, with more available later through a paid subscription. Web radio is a good idea, but if the signal is patchy it will stop working. It’s slow to buffer, which is why the Funky Cat’s DAB tuner is much better suited to the task.