Ora Funky Cat Styling
The looks of the Funky Cat are divisive, but most people seem to love it. There is undoubtably a lot of MINI in there, but also some Porsche 911 and even a bit of Fiat Punto at the back, with rear lights which aren’t quite where you expect them to be. They also do child-pleasing flashes and scrolls when you walk towards the car with the key in your pocket.
The ‘cute’ appearance means the Funky Cat’s size is easy to midjudge, even in the metal. While it might appear to be the size of a MINI or Fiat 500, this five-door, five-seat hatchback is roughly the same size as a Volkswagen ID.3, Hyundai Kona or an MG4 – but is actually taller than them all. So it’s a bit bigger than a Corsa, but smaller than a Leaf.
The inside is interesting too because the Ora tries to be more exciting and ‘premium’ inside than most of the rivals. So there are bold colours and interesting switches like you’d find in something like a Fiat 500 or MINI. You can just choose plain black, but the funkier options offer lighter shades and two-tone trims.
Ora Funky Cat Technology
The tech is another area where Ora hopes to rise above the opposition and go some way to justifying the higher-than-expected price for this First Edition model. It has a pair of 10.25-inch screens grafted together to form one widescreen of information like in a lot of Kias – one side being the driver’s information stack, and this side being the touchscreen. The graphics and responsiveness are good, but the screen itself is small and the touch buttons can be fiddly to operate, especially on the move.
There’s two phone charge points in the front although they are the old USB format which feels a bit like having a cassette player these days. If you want to go really old school, there is a 12v socket too, which might be handy for a dash cam. Until June 2023 those points won't be useful for anything but charging either. There is currently no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto available in the Ora, but it is promised and will be sent to existing cars as an over-the-air update. Until then, you'll have to rely on the Funky Cat's clunky built-in nav or stick a phone holder on the windscreen.
While some of the tech seems behind the times, Ora is particularly proud of the voice recognition system which can be awoken from its slumber by saying “Hello Ora”. If you use the precise terms which the system recognises it works well enough, but if you get it slightly wrong then you’ll find it playing a random song from the Deezer streaming service rather than setting the navigation destination for home. In most cases it’s just easier to press a button, especially for functions like winding down a window.
The safety kit is top-notch though, resulting in the Funky Cat getting a full five stars in the independent EuroNCAP crash tests and assessments. There’s a 360-degree camera to prevent parking scuffs and a system which slams on the brakes if it thinks you are just about to pull out of a parking spot and there’s someone walking or driving behind you.
But there’s also a neat facial recognition function. If you set up the right account, as soon as you sit in the driver’s seat, the Funky Cat will recognise you, and set the displays, shortcut keys, driver-assistance systems and sat-nav to your preferences. It will also spy on you though, so if you yawn it will tell you to take a break, and it will also nag you if you take your eyes off the road. We can see the benefits, but several people we told had reservations about having a camera – and microphone – in the car ‘spying’ on them while they drove. An Ora spokesman said there are ways of disabling the system and that all data is kept in Europe.
Talking of data, there’s also an ORA app for your smartphone which we haven’t been able to test yet, but offers the usual stuff like pre-heating and cooling of the interior remotely, charging controls and lock and unlock functions.
Ora Funky Cat Interior and Practicality
The extra height of the Ora compared to similar-sized cars means there is plenty of headroom in both the front and back of the Cat. We had no problems getting comfortable in the driver’s seat, but rear passengers don’t fare as well. The curved doors make getting in a squash, and the floor is unusually high, which means it feels like sitting on a futon with your knees at belly-button height.
Storage space is good though, with a centre console nook for a handbag, a lidded storage bin and mobile phone charging pad. The door pockets will take a bottle too.
The boot isn’t nearly as accommodating though. At 228-litres it’s only 17-litres bigger than the MINI Electric’s and is a lot less practical than the ID.3’s 385 litres. There’s big step up to lift loads over too and the shape of the luggage space tapers sharply inwards towards the top. The seats fold of course to reveal a 858 litre space - compared to 1,267 in an ID.3 and 731 in the current MINI. There is no frunk space, but there is a cubby for the cables under the boot floor, if you reel them up neatly.
Ora Funky Cat Performance and Driving
The Ora Funky Cat doesn’t just look like a softer, slightly flabbier MINI – it drives like one too. That’s not a bad thing, as the sharp steering and firm ride of a MINI can become a little tiring on a long journey. The Ora is still on the sporty side compared to rivals like the Kia Niro EV or Hyundai Kona but is a little more relaxed than the car it will share its underpinnings with next year. There is a reasonable amount of feedback through the unusually large steering wheel, and it feels a little more natural in its responses compared to the slightly artificial feeling MG4.
The First Edition we tried gets a 169bhp motor and can do the usual zero to 62mph sprint in 8.3 seconds, which is fast enough but nothing special. It’ll keep up with whatever you need to do. But it’s very definitely not one to take for a drive on a Sunday just for the hell of it.
It’s refined though, with little noise from the motors and a slippery shape which seems to keep wind whistle to a minimum. The Ora is blissfully free from squeaks and rattles too, suggesting it has the build quality you’d expect from a car which is a joint venture with BMW. The only nit to pick is a notable rumble from the tyres on some road surfaces.
We also found the brakes a little odd. There are several stages of regen, including one which allows full one pedal driving. In any mode it takes some getting used to, as the car will slam on the stoppers suddenly if it senses a threat and seems to temper the regen according to the position of cars or obstacles in your path.
The indicators will also take some getting used to. As with most cars these days, a tap is all it needs to turn them on, but they don’t cancel once you have changed lanes or come off at your exit, and you have to press it in the opposite direction to turn them off. We would like to apologise to drivers in Solihull area for our seemingly erratic flashes, swearing and frustrated hand flailing. I guess it is something you’d quickly master if you drive a Cat every day.
Ora Funky Cat Range and Charging
The first Funky Cats in the UK come with a 48kWh battery and a possible 193 miles of range on the WLTP cycle. That is usefully more than a MINI Electric or Honda e, but down on something like a Corsa Electric or the similar-sized Citroen e-C4, which both manage more than 200 miles.
Volkswagen has temporarily suspended sales of its 45kWh entry-level version of the ID.3, but this was capable of an official 217 mile range.
The Ora's 193 mile official figure will translate to a real-world range of around 150 miles, which is still plenty for most people, especially those who are based in urban areas.
Rivals make better use of the power you put in though – the Ora’s efficiency is on par with far larger models such as the Genesis GV60, VW ID.4 and Tesla Model Y.
If you do venture further afield you’ll find the charging ability is decidedly underwhelming. At a maximum of 64kW on a suitable DC charger it will take 42 minutes to get from 15-80%, which means an ID.3 owner will have taken on enough watts to go the same distance approximately 20 minutes faster. That’s not so much of a problem if you’re doing a lot of charging at home - but if this is a city car aimed at people who might not have a driveway, that’s a bit of a miss.
Ora Funky Cat Price and Equipment
The only Ora you’ll be able to buy for now is the First Edition, which is priced at £31,995. When this price was announced it raised a few eyebrows as it was about £5,000 more than we had been led to expect and looks fairly pricy compared to the other disruptive brand from China – MG. Finance payments with £3,600 deposit and over 48 months are around £400 per month.
In its defence, the Ora is pretty well loaded with kit and the price is comparable with the small battery versions of the Hyundai Kona and (currently unavailable) ID.3 45kWh.
The car is available either online or through a scattering of traditional dealers, backed by a bigger network of service points. Service intervals are very competitive, at two years or 18,000 miles, whichever comes first.
The equipment list includes Adaptive Cruise Control, 360 Degree Cameras, 18” Alloy Wheels, wireless phone charging and electric front seats. Unusually, a 3-pin ‘granny’ charge cable is also included too. There is no seat or steering wheel heating though, which means the car will be less comfortable and efficient in winter. Oddly, there is no rear wiper either – a trend among some electric cars which we know annoys some of our audience.
In terms of warranty, the Ora gets five year unlimited mileage cover on the car, with eight years and 100,000 miles on the battery. That’s better than most, and matches Hyundai. But Kia and MG both offer seven years. Ora says it has cars available for almost immediate delivery too.
The only options available now are metallic paint for an extra £595 with the two-tone interior option adding another £200.There’ll be a longer range 63kWh Cat and a sportier GT coming later in 2023, as well as cheaper, less well-specced versions.
Ora Funky Cat Verdict
In isolation, the ORA Funky Cat is a great electric car. We were excited to drive it and weren’t disappointed with the ‘grown-up MINI’ dynamics. We also love the way it looks, the quality and the equipment list. The 5-star safety score is to be applauded too.
But some of the specifications are a little off the pace, notably the charging speed, its overall efficiency, and the boot space. And petty as it might sound, we’d really miss the heated seats too and know a few people who have rejected cars on that basis alone.
But there is a more fundamental issue. We all assumed the Ora would be priced to compete with the MG4 with a price which started with a ‘2’. Ora bosses say the Funky Cat is a different proposition to the MG as it is more 'premium', but comparisons are inevitable.
The top spec MG4 Trophy comes with a decent amount of kit and 280 miles of range – that’s big enough to make a real difference, and the MG is cheaper at £31,495.A Citroën ë-C4 comes with a 50kWh battery and 22 mile more official range for £30,995 – but has less equipment. An ID.3 or Cupra Born 58 are more expensive but have a battery which is 20% bigger. Ora was keen to compare to a Hyundai Kona which, in 39kWh form, has a smaller range.
Clearly the Funky Cat has been carefully priced to compete with the big players by someone with a spreadsheet. But there are some factors which can’t be judged by an entry into an Excel cell. One is the value of the looks, which will be enough to make some people fall in love with the Funky Cat. The quality seems to be a step up from most of the mainstream brands too, if you judge it by the solid-sounding thunk of the doors and the feel of the materials.
But Ora is a big unknown in the UK, and people will expect some sort of reason to buy from a brand they’ve never heard of. Genesis, for example, has a class-leading charging tech plus a concierge-style buying experience to try and get the attention of Audi or BMW buyers. Tesla got a foothold with the Supercharger network and blistering performance. MG – hardly a new brand in the UK – has a long warranty and keen pricing.
Yet Ora doesn’t seem to have any overwhelmingly persuasive unique selling points, except the way it looks. So you’ve got to really want the Funky Cat’s style to make up for the time you’ll spend explaining what the car is when people ask in the pub, and to overcome the nagging doubt which comes from buying from a brand you’ve never heard of.
It’s other key attraction at the moment is availability – Ora say there are cars in stock for delivery in just a couple of weeks. That’s going to seem tempting if you’re facing a 14 month wait for an ID.3.
The Funky Cat is a car which appeals more to the heart than the head. If you let your heart win we wouldn’t blame you, but we struggle to recommend the Ora wholeheartedly based on an objective points tally. This Cat isn’t going to jump among the pigeons just yet.