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Road tests

New GWM Ora Funky Cat 2022 review

The Funky Cat is the GWM Ora’s first electric car for the UK and arrives with a 193-mile range

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

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Verdict

The year is almost out, but the GWM ORA Funky Cat is arguably the biggest and most pleasant surprise of 2022. It’s time to sit up and take notice of the Chinese car industry; if you can see past the childish name and slightly challenging rear-end styling, the Funky Cat is an extremely credible small EV. Watch out, Europe, China’s on the march.

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This is the GWM Ora Funky Cat. Yes, you read that correctly. An all-new Chinese car maker with an all-electric product portfolio is launching its first model in the UK, and it’s called the Funky Cat.

Jokes aside, this odd-looking electric car has the potential to put the metaphorical funky cat among the pigeons. It costs from £31,995 (or £399 per month with an 11 per cent deposit) in First Edition spec, but it’s likely we’ll see cheaper models join the line-up later, as well as a bigger-battery version boosting range to more than 260 miles. Every Funky Cat for the time being comes with 64kW charging; that’s a little off the pace, although an 80 per cent charge should still take less than 45 minutes.

At 4.23m long, the Funky Cat is a little shorter than a Volkswagen ID.3 or MG4, but much longer than a MINI Electric. However, while every Ora comes in a five-door body, like the VW, the 228-litre boot is closer in size to the MINI’s which, for context, measures 211 litres.

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Yet while the Ora’s rear doors don’t open all that wide, they reveal a spacious cabin with enough room for a six-foot-tall adult to sit behind a similar-height driver. The flat floor means it shouldn’t prove tricky if you need to carry three in the rear, either; by contrast, the MINI is a strict four-seater.

Up front, the Funky Cat greets you with a slick twin-screen layout and a reasonably premium interior. There are soft materials and exposed stitching on the doors and dashboard, and while the steering wheel doesn’t look as if it will wear as well as those in its rivals, the seats are comfortable.

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The infotainment system is light years ahead of VW’s laggy set-up, although some key features are hidden, which is frustrating. Especially when Ora insists on fitting a sensitive driver-attention monitor that shouts if you take your eyes off the road.

But the standard-fit sat-nav works well, and while it’s not ready yet, we’re told cars will receive an over-the-air update with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in June.

Every First Edition car gets 360-degree cameras as well as wireless phone charging and dual-zone climate control. There’s keyless entry, LED headlights and 18-inch wheels, and a five-star Euro NCAP rating.

While it punches above its weight on kit and cabin tech, you might expect the Funky Cat’s rivals to show it a clean pair of heels on the road. But that isn’t the case. In most situations, it performs well; the ride is just the right side of firm, giving you a feeling of attachment to the road without being uncomfortable. It isn’t as quick as a MINI or an ID.3 (0-62mph takes 8.3 seconds) but if you floor it out of corners, the car will spin the inside wheel. The steering is a weak point; it’s light and doesn’t offer much feedback.

Ora claims the Funky Cat is capable of one-pedal driving, but in reality that’s not quite true. The MINI Electric’s set-up is strong and can bring you to a full stop; the Cat won’t do that, although you quickly learn to trust its ability in everyday driving.

The Cat’s even pretty competent at higher speeds. It’s not whisper-quiet, but it takes short motorway stints in its stride. Again, the Ora feels firm but controlled, with the car’s pliant ride working in its favour.

Orders open later this month, both online and via the brand’s four initial dealerships. IM Group (also responsible for Subaru and Isuzu) will handle sales, servicing, parts and distribution, with the company targeting one additional showroom every month through 2023.

Model:GWM Ora Funky Cat First Edition
Price:£31,995
Powertrain:48kWh battery/1x e-motor
Power/torque:169bhp/250Nm
Transmission:Single-speed automatic, front-wheel drive 
0-62mph:8.3 seconds
Top speed:99mph
Range:193 miles
Charging:64kW (15-80% 43 mins)
On sale:28 November
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Deputy editor

Richard has been part of the team for over a decade. During this time he has covered a huge amount of news and reviews for Auto Express, as well as being the face of Carbuyer and DrivingElectric on Youtube. In his current role as deputy editor, he is now responsible for keeping our content flowing and managing our team of talented writers.

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