Driving report: ORA Funky Cat : A car named Charlie

At the latest with the ORA Funky Cat it is clear: China's car manufacturers do not want to conquer the European market with cheap models.

Driving report: ORA Funky Cat : A car named Charlie

At the latest with the ORA Funky Cat it is clear: China's car manufacturers do not want to conquer the European market with cheap models. While the Japanese and later Koreans initially rolled into hearts and garages with simple but inexpensive cars and only raised prices once they were established on the market, the Chinese are now trying for the third time with design, equipment and purely electric. Latest example: The ORA Funky Cat from the manufacturer Great Wall. The compact Stromer is confidently priced at at least 38,990. Fully equipped and with a larger battery, it can also be just under 50,000 euros. This is on a level with the Cupra Born, the DS 3 E-Tense or the VW ID.3 and well above the Opel Corsa-e.

ORA tries it through marketing and image building: The Funky Cat as a kind of mobile Tamagotchi. "I'm your car-panion - your companion" says the importer of the plump Stromer: "A faithful companion in all situations." The list of amenities that Ora lists for the Funky Cat is impressive for the compact - if it doesn't contain anything really new. It's just that people are no longer talking about boring massage seats, but about the fact that "I'll massage your back after work if you need it". We're not talking about simple voice control, but about the fact that "You just have to tell me if I should open the panoramic roof or the trunk for you." Of course you can also give your car its own name for the speech: Our test car was called Charlie. And at the end of the journey, Charlie politely thanks the navigation system for traveling with him.

Freed from the verbal childish scheme (Ora estimates that 60 percent of the vehicles sold go to female customers), there is still an impressive number of standard or optional assistance systems left. The radio, driver's seat and mirrors adjust themselves automatically via facial recognition, there is support when parking or a navigation computer blessed with a penetrating educational impetus, which never tires of verbally pointing out that you are going too fast, that you should brake better or that distance to the vehicle in front is too narrow. Fortunately, the digital senior teacher can also be switched off. A camera on the A-pillar keeps the driver constantly in view and complains about inattentiveness, distractions and signs of tiredness.

Anyone who feels reminded of the Mini when looking into the Funky Cat's round googly eyes is not entirely wrong: Ora's mother Great Wall Motors is also a cooperation partner of BMW for the upcoming electric Mini, which will also be the Lemon pure baptized platform of the Funky Cat should use. So it's hardly a coincidence that the toggle switches on the center console are reminiscent of those in the Mini Cooper. The manufacturer calls it retro-futurism design.

With a length of 4,235 mm, a width of 1,825 mm and a height of 1,603 mm, the Funky Cat fits right into the compact class. There is plenty of space in the front, but it gets tight in the five-seater at the back. The trunk volume is also rather modest: the normal 228 liters can be increased to 858 liters by folding down the rear seats behind a high loading sill. In addition, there is the bag with the charging cable as a space eater. No big problem: More than 355 kilograms of payload including passengers are not allowed anyway.

Materials and workmanship appear valuable, everything appears tidy and clear. It gets more fiddly with the two not too large screens in the dashboard. The instrument cluster in front of the driver is a bit empty, but at least shows the most important data. The touchscreen in the middle delivers a fairly sparse navigation image and the small icons for vehicle settings (e.g. selecting the recuperation level) are difficult to hit, especially while driving. After all, the steering wheel has a good grip and is sufficiently tight.

The Stromer is driven via the front wheels and by a permanently excited synchronous motor that delivers up to 171 hp / 126 kW. With this and thanks to the directly available torque of 250 Nm, the Funky Cat, which weighs 1,615 kilograms when empty, is fast on the road. It takes 8.2 seconds to reach 100 km/h from a standing start, and 160 km/h is the end. The chassis is crisp. Last but not least, thanks to the low center of gravity due to the batteries installed in the floor, the ORA-Mini sits well on the road and circles precisely even around fast corners. Disc brakes all around ensure good deceleration. And: In the NCAP crash test, the brisk Chinese shone with five out of five stars.

Two battery sizes are available. The basic model has a lithium iron phosphate battery with a storage capacity of 47.8 kWh, which has an official range of 310 kilometers according to the WLTP standard. The more powerful lithium-ion battery with 63.1 kWh storage offers a range of up to 420 kilometers. The more powerful battery is charged from 15 to 80 percent in a not exactly exhilarating 48 minutes at the quick charging station. What is then missing is a built-in coffee maker.

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