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First drive: 2023 GWM Ora Funky Cat. Image by Matt Vosper.

First drive: 2023 GWM Ora Funky Cat
It might have a ridiculous name, but the Funky Cat is here on a serious mission to challenge established electric hatches.

   



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GWM Ora Funky Cat 48kWh First Edition

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After Great Wall Motors (GWM) endured decidedly limited success with its Steed pick-up truck, the Chinese company could be forgiven for not wanting to venture back to the UK any time soon. But it still returned, launching its Ora electric car brand. The company's first UK-bound model is this, the Funky Cat, and it's an electric hatchback designed to rival the Mini Electric and the Volkswagen ID.3. But can the intriguingly named newcomer really compete?

Test Car Specifications

Model: 2023 Ora Funky Cat 48kWh First Edition
Price: £31,995
Engine: 126kW electric motor
Battery: 48kWh lithium-ion
Transmission: single-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
Power: 171hp
Torque: 250Nm
Emissions: 0g/km
Range: 193 miles
0-62mph: 8.3 seconds
Top speed: 99mph
Boot space: 228 litres

Styling

The Funky Cat is designed to look cute, and to do that, GWM Ora has lifted styling ideas from a range of competitor brands. The headlights and two-tone roof design look very Mini-esque, while the nose has a hint of Porsche about it, and the boot shape reminds us of the first-generation Nissan Leaf. In fairness, all these elements work well together, and the Funky Cat is a relatively attractive thing to look at. It's just a shame the tailgate has the lengthy legend 'Funky Cat' emblazoned on it.

Interior

As with the exterior, the Funky Catís cabin steals some features from other cars on the market. Those toggle switches, for example, scream Mini; the two-spoke steering wheel has Fiat 500 styling at its heart. But this isnít a cheap copy. Build quality is surprisingly good Ė easily on a par with the likes of Nissan and Ford Ė and the tech is competitive too. The touchscreen is sharp and clean, the instrument display is strong, and the voice control is remarkable. Ask the car to open the window and it will. Tell it to turn up the heating and it does it. Most voice control systems canít cope with simple navigation instructions. Thereís also a facial recognition system that knows who is driving and sets the car up accordingly, but itís still a bit Big Brother. The system is always watching, waiting for your attention to be drawn away, then warning you to keep your eyes on the road. Itís a bit disconcerting.

Practicality

The Funky Cat's cabin is relatively spacious, although GWM Ora might pretend it's roomier than it really is. The company is very proud that it can seat four adults with ease, and it's definitely true that four six-footers will sit reasonably comfortably, while kids will have ample space in the back. However, the 228-litre boot is, to use a technical* term, titchy. A VW ID.3 offers about 160 litres more space, and although the Mini Electric's luggage compartment is similarly cramped, that's only a small crumb of comfort.

Performance

For the time being, thereís only one powertrain on offer for Funky Cat customers Ė a 48kWh battery and a 171hp electric motor Ė but thatís set to change in future with the arrival of a larger battery in the coming months. For now, though, thereís a maximum range of 193 miles on a single charge, while the motor provides a 0-62mph time of 8.3 seconds. That range isnít brilliant compared with even the most basic VW ID.3, but itís an improvement on the Mini Electric. The forthcoming 63kWh option will extend that, however, increasing the range to something in the region of 260 miles.

Ride & Handling

Those expecting the Funky Cat to feel cheap and nasty on the road are in for a shock. The Ora feels smooth and refined, not to mention relatively comfortable. Sure, the weight of the battery compromises the suspension to a point, but the overall ride is fairly mature. As is the handling. Grip is ample, and though thereís a bit of body roll, itís easy to drive at any speed. It feels safe, rather than exciting, but thatís no problem for what is effectively an urban runabout. Of course, it has its flaws, including the hyperactive safety systems and brakes that struggle with the demands of energy recuperation and stopping power, making them feel abrupt and Ďgrabbyí Ė particularly at low speeds.

Value

Funky Cat prices start at just under £32,000, which pays for the high-specification First Edition model. Admittedly, you only get the 48kWh battery, but there are plenty of toys. Two-tone paint, alloy wheels and leather upholstery all feature as standard, along with the two screens, satellite navigation and the facial recognition tech. Heated front seats and a heated steering wheel come as standard, too, along with climate control and a reversing camera. Other versions are expected in the future, although their prices and specifications are yet to be confirmed.

Verdict

The Funky Cat review would read very differently were it not for the MG4. Because while the Ora is surprisingly good Ė even with the small battery Ė it isnít spacious or cheap enough to beat the impressive MG. As a result, itís hard to recommend, but itís still a strong statement of intent for GWM Ora. Despite the naming policy, this is a brand that deserves to be taken seriously.



James Fossdyke - 28 Nov 2022



      - GWM Ora road tests
- Funky Cat images

2023 GWM Ora Funky Cat 48kWh First Edition. Image by Matt Vosper.2023 GWM Ora Funky Cat 48kWh First Edition. Image by Matt Vosper.2023 GWM Ora Funky Cat 48kWh First Edition. Image by Matt Vosper.2023 GWM Ora Funky Cat 48kWh First Edition. Image by Matt Vosper.2023 GWM Ora Funky Cat 48kWh First Edition. Image by Matt Vosper.

2023 GWM Ora Funky Cat 48kWh First Edition. Image by Matt Vosper.2023 GWM Ora Funky Cat 48kWh First Edition. Image by Matt Vosper.2023 GWM Ora Funky Cat 48kWh First Edition. Image by Matt Vosper.2023 GWM Ora Funky Cat 48kWh First Edition. Image by Matt Vosper.2023 GWM Ora Funky Cat 48kWh First Edition. Image by Matt Vosper.








 

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