Currently reading: Ora Cat supermini EV launching in UK from £25k
VW ID 3-rivalling electric hatchback promises 261 miles of range

The new Ora Cat, a Chinese-built electric hatchback due on sale in the UK from December and priced from just £25,000, has been revealed promising efficiency and performance figures that outshine several key rivals.

Launched in China in 2018 and confirmed for a European roll-out at the Munich motor show in September, the Cat is the newest model from the nascent, EV-only Ora subbrand formed by automotive giant Great Wall Motors (GWM). Five 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 its maximum range of 261 miles, which is more than double that of the similarly priced Mazda MX-30 and slightly more than even the top-rung Renault Zoe. That maximum figure is achieved by a Cat featuring a 63kWh (gross) battery pack. That model is expected to cost from around £28,000, although a smaller 58kWh option with a 209-mile range will also be available.

Both 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 100mph.

The 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 be offered in four trim levels, all of which will qualify for the government’s £35,000 EV grant, company representatives say. 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.

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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 Cats per year in the UK, with another model to follow next year and eventually building a comprehensive line-upcomprising both hatchbacks and SUVs, some of which are already on sale in China.

Like Tesla and Genesis, Ora will show its cars in shopping centres to familiarise the public with the brand as it ramps up its presence in the market. 

Can the cat cut it here?

We will find out what the Cat is like to drive early next year and will refrain from offering predictions on its success until then, but the early left-hand-drive prototypes on static display make a compelling case for Ora.

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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. 

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Andrew1 1 November 2021
I find it both funny and sad how westerners in general, but Brits in particular, dismiss Chinese products. They seem to be stuck in the 80 when Made in China meant cheap and poor quality.
But if you look all around you find that virtually everything is made in China, including "premium" and "luxury" products. A lot of high tech comes from China.
If you keep hiding your heads in the sand and hang a "snob" sign on your arses, you'll find that you'll pay whatever the Chinese are asking for everything you buy.
Wake up and start competing because we are losing the game badly!
Andy1960 1 November 2021

Sorry Andrew, it's not the quality of Chinese products that I have a problem with. It's the fealty relationship all Chinese companies have with the CCP, which makes then partner, by association, with everything that the CCP is involved with, including

1/ Genocide

2/ Illegal restrictions of freedoms (Hong Kong)

3/ Boarder skirmishes (India)

4/ Threats to sovereign states. Taiwan, Japan

5/ Illegal Occupation of islands, and turning them in to military outposts

6/ Illegal claims on freedoms of Navigation. South China Sea

7/ Belt and Road being used to influence third world nations

8/ Failure to act on climate change issues. Lots of promise, zero delivery

9/ Taking over western companies and insinuating themselves in our psyche as a result

And more

FastRenaultFan 1 November 2021
Its not a bad looking car at all at least in pictures and the dash looks decent too. Whether it will be like that in the metal is another thing. Surely do if this is competing with a VW ID3 for size then it is not a Supermini as the Autocar headline says but a C class electric hatchback.
Maybe this will be the car to get them started but they will have to offer a good warranty to give people confidence in the product that they are buying.
gareth9702 1 November 2021
Surprised at how many comments are dismissive. GWM are building an international presence in the car industry with (among others) the GWM, Haval and Tank brands. They are pushing for the top 10 in Australia and I believe are developing a US production facility. This is not the one-off product of a start-up but the first step in serious product plan.