Ora Funky Cat First Edition - long term review - Report No:3 2023 | Top Gear
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Long-term review

Ora Funky Cat First Edition - long term review

£31,995 / as tested £32,790 / PCM £398
Published: 17 May 2023


  • SPEC

    GWM Ora Funky Cat First Edition



  • BHP


  • 0-62


Ora Funky Cat vs Mini Electric: pretender vs professional?

It’s a well-known fact that the next Mini Electric will feature much of the same hardware as the Ora Funky Cat, thanks to a joint venture agreed between BMW and Ora’s overlords Great Wall Motors.

It’s likely to be an all-new, collaboratively developed platform that underpins the next-gen Mini EV – which will once again look almost exactly the same as a combustion-engined counterpart – but it could potentially use the Funky Cat’s current motor or battery tech and so on. That’s one for the future though, because the Funky Cat has already arrived on our shores, so it’s time to pit the Chinese newbie up against the current generation Mini Electric, which first came to be back in 2020.

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Now, before seeing the Funky Cat in the flesh we all assumed that it would be similar in size to the Mini, but in fact it’s 390mm longer and 171mm taller. Both are almost identical in price though, and thanks to Ora’s focus on rear legroom over boot space, both can carry an almost identical amount of stuff (the Mini’s boot is 211 litres while the Funky Cat’s is 228 litres). They also both trade on retro looks, although to our eyes the three-door Mini has a much more coherent design.

It's the Mini that’s the quicker of the two. It gets 181bhp and 199lb ft of torque to drive its front wheels, meaning a 0-62mph time of 7.3 seconds and a sprightly feel to the way it gets off the line.

The Funky Cat on the other hand makes do with 169bhp and a 0-62mph time that’s a whole second slower, although its bigger battery (48kWh plays 32.6kWh) means it’ll supposedly travel 193 miles on a charge compared to the Mini’s 145 miles. In the real world you can reckon on around 100 miles from the Mini and 140/150 from the Funky Cat.

And yet, there’s polish to the way the Mini drives that the Ora just can’t match. Both have fairly firm suspension setups, but in the Mini that means sharp handling and decent body control. Chuck the Ora into a corner and you never have complete confidence that it’s going to stick as it understeers heavily and offers no real feedback through the wheel, even with the steering in the heaviest of its three settings. There’s a delay to your actions driving the Funky Cat too, with the accelerator and brakes ever-so-slightly slow to respond.

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There is lots to be said for the extra space and light inside the Funky Cat, but the Mini edges the battle of the interiors too thanks to its more premium-feeling materials and the presence of plenty of proper buttons. No prizes for guessing where Ora found the inspiration for its climate control toggles either.

It was always going to be tough for Ora to go up against something as well-established as the Mini, and if it were my £35k-ish that I had to spend on one of these city-dwelling EVs then I’d be knocking at the door of a Mini dealer. And yet, getting the two cars together did help me to appreciate the slightly different direction that the Funky Cat takes. Its bigger battery, rear doors, taller cockpit and larger rear bench seat give it a different purpose to the Mini and could convince some potential Mini Electric customers to look east if they regularly carry passengers. Well, if the Funky Cat’s planned Apple CarPlay update arrives soon, that is.

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