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Long Term Review

Living with an... Ora 03

We've got six months with a total newcomer to the UK market, the Ora 03 EV - it's one of the most interesting new cars on sale

Mark Nichol

Words by: Mark Nichol

Published on 8 May 2024 | 0 min read

So, what even is the Ora 03? You might know it as the Funky Cat, which is what Ora called it when it launched in the UK towards the end of 2022. They changed that to ‘03’ in January 2024 – sadly, in our opinion – and fiddled with the spec a bit. But the car itself is unchanged. It’s an almost-family-sized (we’ll get into that) electric hatchback by Chinese brand Ora, new to the UK and owned by Great Wall Motors - famous (if you like) for the Steed pickup truck. Still, the 03 is, without doubt, one of the most intriguing new cars on the market.
For three months we’ll be driving a base ‘Pure+’ model, with a 48kWh battery and a 193-mile quoted range. Following that we’ll be taking a ‘Pro+’ car, with a bigger battery and more equipment. For the first month or so we’ll also be running the car without a home charger installed – that comes shortly – so it really is like we’re new this electric car ownership thing. And by “we”, I mean "The Nichol Family" – mum, dad and two teenage kids. This will replace a six-cylinder, quite loud and quite fast SUV as our main family wheels for the next six months. It’ll definitely be… interesting. Skip to: Month 1 | What even is this?

What is it?

  • Model: Ora 03
  • Version: 48kWh
  • Spec level: Pure+ (previously ‘First Edition’)
  • Options fitted: None
  • Price as tested: £31,995

We like

  • Unique styling
  • Passenger space front and back
  • All the red stuff

We don’t like

  • Vexing infotainment
  • Small boot
  • It's a scaredy cat

Month 1 – What even is this thing?

Mark says: “I'm in love with the 03, but it's a tumultuous relationship. The way it looks, the way it feels like to drive, its rizz-party interior and its rarity - all brilliant. But the infotainment software needs a CTRL-ALT-DLT...and it keeps BONGING at me! Best long-term test car ever.”

Trips taken

We’ve only had the car for a few weeks and it’s mainly been doing a 20-mile-odd daily work commute. Nothing too exciting to report on that front… except that we’re running it without a home charger. That’s booked to come soon. In the meantime we’ve had to resort to plugging it into a three-pin socket through the garage using a Type 1 cable. The glamour. It’s not that sensible, or advisable – there are all kinds of reasons why a proper home charger is near-enough essential for electric car ownership, which we’ll talk about in the coming months – but… honestly… it’s working fine. Mainly because even a three-pin trickle is enough to keep the battery charged above 80 percent overnight.

We like

Lots. The 03 is a REALLY interesting car. It’s been fascinating seeing how people react to this thing. As a car journalist who’s driven his fair share of exotic cars and been furtively filmed in plenty of them (it’s ALWAYS obvious, lads), I can honestly say that this is one of the most conspicuous cars I’ve ever driven. It’s probably because nobody knows what the heck it is, but at the same time, it’s so friendly-looking and different, that the surprise usually turns into delight.

We're not so keen on

The name. Following on from the above, whenever anyone has got into the 03 and asked the inevitable question, I’ve found myself saying the same thing: “Yeah... this is a Funky Cat...” *pause, wait for disbelieving reaction* “True story… well, sort of true. It used to be called Funky Cat and then they changed it to Ora 03.” “So what’s Ora?” “That’s the name of the brand. It’s new. Chinese. Part of Great Wall Mot… hello? You still awake?” And then the car bongs and they definitely are awake…


The bongs. All of them. All the time. The 03 has more bongs than Cypress Hill. They should have changed the name from Funky Cat to Scaredy Cat, so agitated does the 03 seem at all times. The issue isn’t with the safety systems per se – it’s of course a good thing to be reminded if you’re drifting out of lane, or appear distracted, or might be about to rear-end another car. The issue is that the warnings are often themselves the distraction. The 03 will, for instance, audibly tell you “DON’T BE DISTRACTED!” when you’ve merely glanced in the direction of the touchscreen. It’ll tell you brake when you’re parking or creeping forward in a traffic queue (rarely, but it happens). And it will bong to tell you that the “emergency steering function” has been activated at random times. I assume that’s the lane-keeping assistant. In fairness, I’m exaggerating a little… or maybe I’m not? Maybe I’ve just become accustomed to these things as features of the car and learned to drown them out.And also in fairness, I’m yet to prang the car, so technically it’s working.

Surprise and delight

I just love this car, despite the above. And I can’t fully account for it yet. I think it’s partly because it’s new and slightly mysterious and rare. But it’s also the design, inside and out. The interior is proper lovely – an appealing mix of retro charm and dinky luxury that evokes the Nissan Figaro in many ways. The cream and red colour palette makes a massive difference too – the best combo by far, in my view. Electronic niggles aside – there’s plenty more to say about the infotainment system – it basically drives very well. There’s a little more mechanical noise than you’d want – you can hear the power steering and brake servos at low speed – and wind noise is on the high side on the motorway. But it’s comfy, feels huge inside for a car that looks so small, and the 171 horsepower motor is quick enough. Back to top