8 years or 100,000 miles
Funky Cat. Strange name. Remarkably appealing car. This trendy little Chinese EV comes from freshly created Great Wall Motors brand Ora and aims to offer people seeking a small, fashionable all-electric hatch a refreshingly different option.
Would you choose a car called the 'Funky Cat'? Read on before you make up your mind. You might well change it. This is a small EV from Chinese maker Great Wall Motors, who sold the cheap but uncompetitive Steed pick-up here between 2012 and 2016. They've returned with this 'Funky Cat', a much more credible offering sold under a newly created sub-brand called Ora, which has the ambitious goal of selling up to 50,000 versions of this car a year in the UK, using a combination of selected dealers, shopping centre outlets and online selling. Initially, it's hard to get past that name; the same car is known as the 'Cat 01' or the 'Good Cat' in China. Where it's also joined in the showroom by three other variants - the 'Pink Cat', the 'White Cat' and the 'Black Cat'. Yes really. Anyway, this is just the first of a horde of Chinese EV imports bound for Europe. MG and Volvo are already basically Chinese brands, Nio has just launched in Norway and iPhone maker Foxconn will shortly follow. So, can the cat cut it? Let's find out.
You should find the Funky Cat to be a perky little thing. Power is sent to a 169bhp motor on the front axle with 250Nm of torque, which in the 'First Edition' variants is powered by a 48kWh battery. The sprint to 30mph is dispatched in just 3.8s and 62mph in 8.5s, en route to a limited top speed of 99mph. Drive with less abandon and you might get somewhere close to the claimed 193 mile EV range. If that's not enough, wait for the forthcoming 63kWh bigger-battery variants. Great Wall Motors has invested heavily in driver assist technology for the Ora brand and the result is that this car has 12 ultrasonic radar sensors and multiple exterior cameras that together provide for level 2.5 semi-autonomous driving. It works in town too, where a Traffic jam assist system can take care of braking, throttle and steering at low speeds for you. The confection shouldn't fall apart beyond the city limits either, thanks to the stiffness of Great Wall's latest dedicated EV platform.
There's a lot that's interesting about the Funky Cat's retro-stylised looks, its design seemingly influenced by everything from a Porsche 911 to a Mini. Actually, it if you're looking at it as an alternative to an EV MINI, as many customers will, you need to know that it's slightly larger than one of those - measuring in at 4,235mm long and 1,825mm wide, these dimensions being more akin to a Volkswagen ID.3. And of course, it looks trendy. Most early 'First Edition' models will come with 'Nebula Green' paint and black upholstery, but there's the option of swapping this for more overt 'Aurora Green' paint with green interior trim - or bright 'Mars Red' paint with red interior trim. Funky or what? Inside, where you're faced with a pair of seamlessly-joined twin screens, there are clear MINI influences - the central silver toggle switches and the steering wheel. But the Ora sub-brand also wants to imbue its own minimalist vibe, one that's pleasantly odd, incorporating materials that are surprisingly plush in places - though a little less so in others. You're looked after by leatherette seats and dual zone climate control and are provided with a wireless smartphone charger and keyless entry. You're faced with a pair of 10.25-inch displays that take care of the instrument cluster and the infotainment screen, seamlessly joined at the top of the dashboard. It's in the back that you'll notice the difference between this car and other small fashionista EVs. A relatively long wheelbase of 2,650mm means even a couple of six-footers could sit reasonably comfortably. Out back, there's a 228-litre boot, which is reasonable for a car in this class. Total capacity in the seats-folded format is 858-litres. The Funky Cat doesn't provide any additional 'frunk' space beneath the bonnet up-front.
For our market, this Chinese brand has planned five Funky Cat trim levels ('300', '300 Pro', '400Pro', '400 Pro+' and 'GT'), with the top three variants using a gutsier 63kWh battery. At the time of this test in early Summer 2023 though, GWM Ora was still only offering the initial 'Launch Edition' 48kWh model, which is what we tried, introduced at around £32,000 and, as we'll shortly see, loaded with equipment. Sales are via the www.gwmora.co.uk website, via selected dealers or via the Ora brand outlets in shopping centres that the company plans. As for equipment, well tick off Adaptive Cruise Control, LED Headlights and 18-inch alloy wheels. Inside, the centre screen gets 'Apple CarPlay' and 'Android Auto' smartphone-mirroring, plus there's wireless 'phone charging and electrically-powered operation for the leatherette-upholstered front seats, along with a reversing camera and a 360-degree surround view camera system. You can also select from a whole range of different wheels and four main colours - green, black, red and grey, each with the option of a contrasting roof. There's lots of advanced driver assistance features too, thanks to 12 ultrasonic radar sensors and a whole array of exterior cameras, whose informational feedback is processed by an ultra-modern Qualcomm snapdragon chip that enables level 2.5 autonomous driving. Autonomous parking capability is also provided. The safety situation is encouraging as well. Standard equipment on the 'First Edition' model includes Blind spot detection, Traffic jam assist and Lane keep assist with a Lane centring function. And it seems that this car is also fundamentally safe. In recent EURO NCAP tests, the Funky Cat scored a maximum 5 stars overall, with an 83% score for adult occupant protection, 83% for child occupants and, for vulnerable road users, an 74% score.
The Funky Cat charges with Type 2, 6.6kW single-phase AC and 11kW three-phase AC charging and comes equipped with a CCS socket as standard. The maximum charge speed - just 64kW - is distinctly on the modest side though; most rivals - an MG4 for instance, can charge at 100kW or more. With the 48kWh version, 7.4kW home charging will take users around 5 hours 24 minutes based on a 15%-80% charge status. This time is cut drastically when moving up to 11kW three-phase supply charging (the sort of thing you might have at your office), which takes 3 hours 12 minutes. Public DC rapid charging will take 42 minutes (from 15-80%). You can of course set charging times via the centre screen or the provided 'GWM Ora' app. We gave you the 193 mile EV range figure in our Driving section. If that's not enough, then wait for the forthcoming bigger-battery versions. There will be a 58kWh model offering 209 miles and 63kWh battery making possible up to 263 miles. It's all very different world from the feeble 145 mile figure of a MINI Electric. The Funky Cat will be backed by a 5-year vehicle, unlimited mileage warranty, with cover on the battery for 8-years or 100,000 miles. Service intervals are in-line with best-in-class competitors, scheduled every 2 years or 18,000 miles, whichever comes first. Insurance is group 21E.
If you can get over the name, there's a lot to like here. Provided you don't mind trying something different and you happen to dig the retro-futuristic styling. If you've looked at fashionista small EVs like the MINI Electric, the Honda e and the Mazda MX-30 and, understandably, been put off by cramped interiors and pathetic driving range figures, then the Funky Cat could well be your car. It's priced well, doesn't feel too cheap, has a bit of character, gives you a decent distance between charges, offers a proper back seat and comes with a long warranty. If you were to add in a few posher aesthetic touches, give this car a more sensible name and stick on premium German badging, the press would probably be raving about it. As it is though, for most, this will remain in the short term, a strange Oriental confection. For the future though, make no mistake: the Chinese are coming.