Ora Funky Cat First Edition - long term review
GWM Ora Funky Cat First Edition
What's the Ora Funky Cat like to drive, and what does it mean for the next-gen Mini?
It’d be fair to say that first impressions of the way the Funky Cat drives have not been all that positive. Although this was not helped by the fact that, having broken out of the confines of the M25 for the very first time, a charging stop at one of the UK’s many motorway service station Gridserve chargers did not go well…
A perfectly timed arrival saw a Porsche Taycan leaving just as I pulled into Chieveley. Thus, I knew the charger was working, and yet after 20 minutes of plugging, tapping a contactless card and unplugging before trying again, I gave up with no connection made and no mileage added. As I later learned, for some reason the Ora is currently not compatible with Gridserve’s older but prevalent 50kW fast chargers and there’s no word on when that union might come to be. Frustrating.
Anyway, to the driving. Around town I’ve been rather enjoying the Funky Cat’s slightly raised driving position, its ultra-light steering and its one-pedal driving mode, although I do have to remind myself that every time it is charged to 100 per cent, the next few miles of driving don’t allow for any regen at all, even if the one-pedal mode is selected in the touchscreen. The suspension is on the firm side too and can be quite crashy in potholes or over speedbumps, but generally it’s a nippy and not-so-little thing to drive in London.
Motorways aren’t quite as successful. The Funky Cat gets a five-star Euro NCAP score thanks to all of its active safety systems, but in reality I’ve found the lane keep assist to be far too overeager, even dragging the car back into the main carriageway when trying to indicate and exit down a slip road. And turning it all off requires a proper delve into the screen. There’s plenty of wind and road noise up at 70mph too, particularly from those bulbous wingmirrors.
Country lanes aren’t much better. The traction control allows a fair bit of slip from the Giti Tire-clad front wheels, and they can easily be overwhelmed if you try and use the full 169bhp on offer. The steering has multiple settings, but none provide enough weight for my liking and there’s a disconnect between what the tyres are doing and what you can feel through the steering wheel. Body roll isn’t too bad, but that’s only countered by the overly firm suspension. This is a 1.5 tonne car after all, and it feels it.
Much of this won’t put off potential buyers, but it’s worth remembering that lots of the Ora’s hardware will appear in the electric iteration of the next-gen Mini, and that’s a car that prides itself on its (forgive us) go-kart-like handling. There’s only one thing for it then – it’s time for the Funky Cat to meet the current Mini Electric. Check back soon to see how it gets on…