Ora Funky Cat review: It might look strange, but it’s a reliable EV

The unusually named Ora Funky Cat electric car is made by Chinese firm Great Wall.
Ora Funky Cat review: It might look strange, but it’s a reliable EV

Ora Funky Cat







400 Pro+ with 170bhp


420 km

The Spec

seriously impressive


The Chinese are coming

I don’t quite know what it is about Asian manufacturers when it comes to the names they give they cars, but they sure do come up with some doozies.

Now while western manufacturers have not been completely innocent in this name/shame business – Ford, Studebaker, Opel have all been complicit down the years – but the Asians seem to have a corner on this particular market.

I mean, what about the Daihatsu Titan Dump, the Mitsubishi Minica Winky, or the Great Wall Wingle (nudge, nudge – say no more!); then there’s Hyundai Trajet (which came close to describing customer experience); or – one final one just to tickle you – the Mazda Bongo Friendee, which must have been very difficult to explain down at your local, or to the constabulary, for that matter.

Those are just some of the wackiest names Asian car companies historically have put on their products, but – and in all fairness – they’re still coming up with them. This week we drive one.

It is not unusual for people to ask any motoring correspondent what they are driving on any given week, but when such an inquiry is made of a humble hack and the answer is “Erm, an Ora Funky Cat.” Well, you can see problems emerging.

“A what?” is usually the standard response. 

“An Orange f*****g cat?” 

“No, no, an Ora Funky Cat.” 

“Jesus. What the hell is that?” 

A period of garrulous, disbelieving thigh-slapping laugher is then followed by: “No, really. What the hell is it?” 

This is where you need the patience of a completive monk as you have to you explain to the person who was just trying to make conversation, exactly what an Ora Funky Cat is. Generally they’re either not interested anyway or couldn’t care less and you can see, even in those who have a smidgin of curiosity, their eyes glazing over as you try and execute the briefest of explanations.

But, for those of you who did not see the Ora Funky Cat in my driveway and were therefore not presented with the opportunity for an explanation, well here goes… Ora is a new brand of car which is made by Great Wall Motors, a Chinese manufacturer based in Shanghai. The Funky Cat is their first model to be exported to Europe. It aims to latch on to the current electric car zeitgeist with a bunch of specification, a decent range and a relatively modest price tag.

Such an explanation will typically inspire certain responses. 

“Great Wall, that’s the name of the takeaway down the road from me. I knew they did Spring Rolls, but not cars. Hahaha.” 

Or: “Ha, buy one of them and you’ll be rightly shanghaied.” 

Or (the most regular quip, it has to be said): “Chinese, you say? It must be shite.” 

Such guff will always reflect a racist or, at best, culturally ignorant undertone, but one finds generally it is best to swat these aside with some class of dire warning about “the Chinese are coming” or “this is only the start of the Chinese assault on the world’s car industry.”

Fuelled by Big Brotherly fear of oppressors or authoritarian regimes, this is usually enough to dispatch the inquirer back to his or her buddies where they will paint a horror picture of massed Chinese ranks coming down a main street near you and forcing innocent women and children into these awful beasts.

Well, on the evidence we’ve seen – and despite some reservations, mainly about décor and exterior design, which are not exactly top of everyone’s list of concerns – they won’t have to do much forcing as some such cars will justifiably sell well and on merit.

Indeed, the current tsunami of Chinese-made cars hitting our streets is very reminiscent of the early 1970’s in Ireland when the first tranche of Japanese cars started appearing. They were as cheap as chips and packed to the gills with kit – i.e. they came with a radio as standard. At first the Japanese were viewed by the Irish public with a mixture of awe and fear, but eventually with unconfined joy.

If that trend is to be repeated, we will soon see a lot of Chinese cars on our streets. Recently we drove MG4 and found it – with one reservation about the tyres – to be a fantastic thing. When we drove the Funky Cat, we found it to be better again.

From a styling point of view the ‘Cat’ is something of a mess; Mini-esque front end, bonnet with twin cam bumps despite the fact there’s no engine, a side view that’s uninspiring at best and a rear end that’s frumpier than Mrs. Doubtfire.

But, it’s as big as a VW ID.3/Cupra Born, or a Kia Niro, or a Renault Megane E-Tech and will do considerably less damage to your wallet than any of those. It also comes with what might be termed a ‘premium’ spec, has a range – we had the ‘400 Pro+’ motor – of 420 km, will accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 8.2 seconds and has a top speed of 160 km/h.

It is a front driver, which is a little unusual in this class, but even with the 170 bhp at hand from the 63.13 kWh battery, it is a steady drive Sure, you will see a little oversteer if you push it hard into a corner, but in a very controlled and predictable way. There’ll be no sideways action here, I’m afraid.

On the road it is less stiff than a Mini in terms of ride and if the suspension is a little squishy, the ‘Cat’ still handles predictably and coped with the vagaries of the Irish road network with some aplomb. Acceleration is nothing to write home about, but it is still perfectly adequate for the city drivers who, I suspect, will be the principal purchasers.

The interior of the tester was a curious mix of faux surfaces which looked and felt like some kind of a mix between suede and linoleum without managing to look cheap. The twin screen layout – one for the infotainment and climate and the other for regular instrumentation are well laid out and easy to interact with.

Space is good and front seat passengers will enjoy the comfy (electric and with a massage function on the tester) seats provided for them; the rear seat is a bit benchy and, I suspect, will leave a lot of buttocks numb after a long drive. The rear head and leg space is quite adequate, unlike the boot, which is small, despite that big frumpy ass.

All told there was little to quibble about here; it’s a decent car which drives well and has a decent range and workable charging times. The look might not appeal to everyone, but the price almost certainly will.

But, if you do purchase, get ready for plenty of ‘orange cat’ and Chinese takeaway quips.

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