If ORA is positioning itself as a ‘youthful and appealing’ EV brand, then its aptly named Good Cat is certain to garner plenty of attention. Almost everyone loves cat-related content, be it videos, memes or stickers. So, what better way to arouse curiosity than call a car ‘Good Cat’?
ORA, which stands for Open, Reliable and Alternative, is a Chinese brand owned by Great Wall Motor. ORA named the model after the Chinese saying, “It doesn’t matter if it’s a black cat or white cat; the cat that catches mice is a good cat.”
To catch buyers, the Good Cat must demonstrate that it has everything that a driver would want in an entry-level EV. Luckily, styling aside, it has numerous characteristics to help persuade drivers to “adopt” it.
A COOL CAT
Most observers say that the Good Cat looks like a VW Beetle and it’s probably because of the round head lights and curvy body. Others have mentioned that the front end seems inspired by the Porsche 356. I find the shape of the sides and the rear reminiscent of the first-generation Nissan Leaf.
It makes sense since the car is claimed to be ‘Retro Futuristic’ and was penned by ex-Porsche designer Emanuel Derta. Style is subjective and you either find the Good Cat cute or kitschy. The key thing though, is that the looks get people talking. A new brand with cars that fly under the radar will face an even steeper climb.
The interior has been given the Retro Futuristic touch as well, though it would be more accurate to say that it’s modern with a touch of retro. As such, both the instrument panel and infotainment are presented on screens with sharp graphics and cool colours.
Speaking of cool, you’ll be greeted by a pair of koi ‘swimming’ across the said displays when you first enter the car. Koi are considered auspicious in Chinese culture, but I think their presence disconnects from the feline theme. Perhaps a cat strolling across the screen while swishing its tail would have been more apt.
Cats aside, the only analogue and retro elements are the physical switches on the steering wheel, and the shiny toggles below the air vents. Everything feels well-assembled in terms of first impressions, despite the plastic trim beside the pedals looking crooked.
That said, the cabin is a happy place to be in. The front seats have ventilation and massage functions, while the tall roofline and low centre console combine to make the Good Cat feel airy and roomy. The system menus load quickly as well, but more importantly, navigating through them wasn’t as complicated as expected.
Wireless Apple CarPlay is standard, but my preference for a wired connection is also easily met with a plug-and-play connection. I am pleased.
The Good Cat offers more than just good vibes, though. Its long list of standard features includes Traffic Jam Assist, Auto Emergency Braking with Pedestrian & Cyclist Detection, a 360-degree camera, and Auto Parking Assist. The latter can perform not just parallel and vertical, but slanted parking (up to 10 degrees) as well.
My only beef here is trying to get the Intelligent Cruise Control function to work. Because the control stalk is ‘hidden’ behind the left steering wheel spoke, trying to activate it while you’re on the expressway takes a bit of fiddling, a distraction nobody needs.
Nonetheless, if there’s one thing that the Chinese carmakers (along with the Koreans) are doing well, it’s bringing functions that were previously only available in luxury models to the mass market segment.
In the rear, backseat occupants will enjoy relatively tall backrests and a flat rear floor that make it easier to accommodate three adults. For a car 4,235mm long with a wheelbase that stretches 2,650mm, it’s relatively spacious. It’s roomier than a VW Golf, which is similar in size.
The Good Cat’s energy source is a 63kWh battery, which ORA says can deliver a driving range of up to 420km. Crucially, the battery is much larger than the 44.9kWh one in the BYD Dolphin, the Good Cat’s main rival here.
Thus equipped, the Good Cat is capable of 141bhp and 210Nm, and a claimed century sprint time of 11 seconds. This sounds tame on paper, but in reality, most drivers will find the immediacy of the electric powertrain makes the car feel quick and light on its feet. In fact, apart from the slight inertia off-the-line, the hatchback happily scampers off, though not quite like a scalded cat.
Unless they have powerful engines and all-wheel drive, not many regular cars can keep pace with the Good Cat from junction to junction. The ride is compliant, too, easily dispensing with bumps and undulations. The comfort-biased tyres help in this regard.
The Good Cat isn’t a warm hatch by any stretch of the imagination, so one mustn’t expect it to handle as such. ‘Predictable’ is the best way to describe the way it behaves – after all, despite being well-equipped, this is an entry-level EV.
One thing I didn’t predict though, was how gentle the regenerative braking was, even when set to ‘Strong’. Even when ‘Single Pedal’ mode was active, I felt like I needed to dab the brake pedal to get the system to initialise. It took a while to get the hang of and it’s best to release the accelerator early, which prompts it to kick in.
Driving the Good Cat in this manner also boosts its efficiency. ORA claims 6.0km/kWh, but I managed between 6.5 and 6.7km/kWh over three days in mixed conditions. Not bad at all.
COE premiums may have severely distorted prices, but the Good Cat makes a convincing case as an entry-level EV. For just under $170,000, you have a well-equipped, relatively spacious and efficient hatchback, that also has a perky drive and if it matters, a thought-provoking design (price as of 15 October 2023).
There are a few shortcomings, of course. Rear air vents, along with a larger boot, would have been nice. A more accurate touchscreen, and a more precise gearshift dial, would also be welcome.
But these are minor blemishes. If you look at the bigger picture, this electric hatchback is as complete as it can be in this segment at this moment. So, instead of swimming koi, the screens’ welcome animation should be a cat strolling across the displays and sitting on Chinese words that say wo shi hao mao (I am a good cat).
ORA Good Cat (A)
MOTOR Permanent magnet synchronous
MAX POWER 141hp
MAX TORQUE 210Nm
POWER TO WEIGHT 89.2hp per tonne
0-100KM/H 11 seconds
TOP SPEED 150km/h
PRICE INCL. COE From $171,999
AGENT Cycle & Carriage