Ora Funky Cat review

One of the biggest surprises of the year; the Ora Funky Cat is a fantastic small EV

Overall rating

4.0 out of 5

Price
£31,995 - £31,995
Fuel Type:
Electric

Pros

  • Standard equipment
  • Good to drive
  • Value for money

Cons

  • Charging tech
  • Small boot
  • One trim and battery at launch
Car typeRangeWallbox charge timeRapid charge
Electric193 miles7 hours (est. 0-100%, 6.6kW)43 mins (15-80%, 64kW)

The Chinese car industry means business. As well as having controlling stakes in household names like Volvo, Lotus and MG, new brands like NIO and BYD are on the rise as well. 

The latest Chinese carmaker hoping to take Europe by storm is Ora, which launches in the UK with just one model: the Funky Cat. Slightly silly name aside, it seems there is plenty to like about the Volkswagen ID.3-rivalling electric family car – not least its attractive price and long list of standard equipment.

Additional Funky Cat variants are due throughout 2023, including one with a longer range and a sporty GT model. For now though, the Funky Cat First Edition is the only version available and it features a 46kWh usable battery that's good for 193 miles on a charge.

Speaking of charging, this is arguably one of the Funky Cat’s few weak points. Its 64kW maximum charge rate isn’t particularly competitive these days – around half what the ID.3 or MG4 is capable of, and shy even of city-car rivals like the Fiat 500 and Honda e. Still, a 15-80% charge is possible in less than 45 minutes.

Every model is fitted with a three-phase 11kW on-board charger. Use a suitably fast charging point and you’ll recharge the battery to full in a little over four hours, while a 7kW home wallbox will do the same job in around seven hours.

But what the Funky Cat lacks in charging sophistication, it makes up for with its well-appointed cabin. There’s a twin-screen infotainment system with sat-nav, voice control and 360-degree cameras. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will form part of an over-the-air update in summer 2023.

You also get wireless phone charging and two-zone climate control, plus keyless entry, LED lights and 18-inch wheels. Safety kit such as all-round airbags, autonomous emergency braking, traffic sign recognition and lane-keep assist helped the Funky Cat secure a solid five-star Euro NCAP crash test score.

Perceived quality is very good, too. We have a few concerns about how some of the materials may age over time, but in general the Funky Cat’s cabin feels really well screwed together. The leather seats are plush and supportive, with plenty of adjustment available.

On the road, the Funky Cat keeps pace with its mainstream rivals. The 0-62mph dash takes 8.3 seconds, and if you’re too hasty with the accelerator, it’ll spin up the inside front wheel. Take things a little more gently and the car feels stable and sturdy, with a compliant ride that manages to isolate all but the very worst bumps from entering the cabin.

Ora claims the Funky Cat offers one-pedal driving like its MINI Electric rival, though in reality it isn’t quite as effective. It’s an adaptive system, and while it can slow the car quite significantly, it’ll never bring the Funky Cat to a complete stop. Still, it clearly helps with efficiency; we were seeing very nearly four miles per kWh – a figure that would result in a real-world range of around 180 miles.

That figure might drop on the motorway, but don’t let that detract from the fact that the Funky Cat is more than capable of higher-speed stints. It’s not whisper quiet, but it’s no worse than this car’s city-focused rivals. Visibility is pretty good, too.

Practicality is a bit of a mixed bag. The rear doors don’t open all that wide, but inside there’s plenty of head and leg room; the flat floor means three can sit in the back for short journeys. The boot is on the small side, however – at just 228 litres, a Kia Niro EV offers twice as much luggage space with the rear seats in place.

For anyone worried about how they might buy or maintain their Funky Cat, there is currently a network of four dealerships across the UK and that’s due to expand to 16 by the end of 2023. There’s also plans for additional servicing ‘spokes’ designed to cover any blackspots in the brand’s UK coverage. 

Ora wants to sell 5,000 cars in its first full year, and has already announced it’ll launch its own Tesla Model 3-rivalling saloon and a compact SUV down the road. Clearly this is a brand with ambitions, and the Funky Cat is a strong start, despite one or two weak points and an unusual name that a few may be unable to look past. Those that can will find the Funky Cat an interesting alternative to rival hatchbacks like the Volkswagen ID.3 at prices that could even tempt buyers from smaller electric city cars like the Fiat and MINI.

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