Renamed Volkswagen ID 3 rival will arrive in Autumn in First Edition guise; bigger batteries to come
The quirky Ora Cat – an electric Volkswagen ID 3 rival from Chinese firm Great Wall Motors – is on its way to UK dealerships, and has been renamed the Funky Cat.
It will enter the market in Autumn in limited-run First Edition guise, and the firm claims it has taken more than 6000 registrations of interest.
Prices start from £30,495 (after the government’s £1500 EV grant) for the entry-level variant, which comes equipped with a 48kWh battery for a range of 193 miles.
Standard equipment includes adaptive cruise control, a 360deg camera, LED headlights, 18in allow wheels, wireless phone charging and smartphone mirroring functionality.
Four colours will be available from launch – green, black, red and grey – each with the option of a contrasting roof.
Launched in China in 2018 and confirmed for a European roll-out at the Munich motor show in September last year, the Funky Cat is the newest model from the nascent, EV-only Ora subbrand formed by automotive giant Great Wall Motors (GWM). Six years after pulling the uncompetitive Steed pick-up from sale in the UK, GWM is re-entering the market with models from Ora and the more premium-oriented Wey marque, whose plug-in hybrid Coffee 01 SUV is due to arrive in Europe next year.
What most obviously marks the Cat out from other EVs at this price point is the maximum range of 261 miles that will be offered by future UK-bound variants with a 63kWh battery pack, which is more than double that of the similarly priced Mazda MX-30 and slightly more than even the top-rung Renault Zoe. A mid-rung 58kWh option with a 209-mile range will also be available eventually.
All cars are capable of charging at 80kW from a CCS fast charger, while 6.6kW single-phase and three-phase 11kW AC charging are standard on all models. Power is sent to a motor on the front axle – a drivetrain configuration which Ora bosses believe will aid the car’s popularity on wet UK roads. The motor makes 169bhp and 184lb ft, which sends the Cat from 0-30mph in 3.8sec, 0-62mph in 8.5sec and on to a top speed of 99mph.
The Funky Cat measures 4235mm long by 1825mm wide and 1596mm high, making it a close dimensional match for the Volkswagen ID 3, while a wheelbase of 2650mm means even six-foot-tall adults can sit comfortably in the rear. The Cat is expected to ultimately be offered in four trim levels, all of which will qualify for the government’s £35,000 EV grant, company representatives have said. Each trim will be offered with a high level of standard equipment, making the Cat a viable rival even to compact EVs from established European premium brands.
LED lights are standard front and rear, as are 18in alloys, a pair of high-resolution 10.25in screens with smartphone mirroring, rear parking sensors, a 360deg camera, facial recognition and a raft ofdriver aids. A performance-inspired range-topper will be offered, bringing sportier design cues including bespoke wheels and unique colours, but there are not yet any plans for a higher-output powertrain to be offered.
An app allows various functions to be controlled away from the car, while over-the-air updates keep the operating system up to date. Notably, Ora is one of few automotive brands to highlight its operating system’s processing capacity, such is the marketing power of the chips which manage the cockpit and driver aid systems. It is yet to be confirmed how Ora models will be sold in the UK, although Autocar understands a hybrid physical-digital retail model will be implemented.
Great Wall’s ultimate goal is to sell 50,000 Funky Cats per year in the UK, with another model to follow next year and eventually building a comprehensive line-up comprising both hatchbacks and SUVs, some of which are already on sale in China.
Can the cat cut it here?
We will find out what the Cat is like to drive in the coming months and will refrain from offering predictions on its success until then, but the prototypes that have gone on display here already make a compelling case for Ora.
Company bosses said the time is right for the brand to launch in the UK. Outdated misconceptions about the quality of Chinese products among Western audiences have dissipated, and that shift in perception is likely to be reinforced by this luxurious and reassuringly well-built proposition.
Stacked up against its closest rivals (a diverse field, given the Cat’s low price, long range and generous kit list), the Cat looks a shoo-in for sales chart supremacy. It could well appeal to commuters, family buyers and fleet operators alike, such is its focus on versatility and daily usability, including those who have yet to make the switch to an EV.
There will be obstacles to overcome for Ora, not least the unenviable task of enticing loyal buyers away from the familiar confines of Volkswagen and Hyundai dealerships, and the Cat’s somewhat awkward, retro-futuristic styling won’t be to all tastes. But its keen pricing, compelling material desirability and comprehensive aftersales offering – a five-year warranty will come as standard – make the Cat immediately worthy of serious consideration.