Here at Jalopnik we often champion affordable, attainable electric cars, because what’s the point of this whole push away from internal combustion engines if it only impacts folks with six-figure salaries? The market could use more EVs for the masses. It’s with that in mind that I submit the Ora Cat, the little electric hatchback from a sub-brand of Great Wall Motors that’s destined for Europe in 2022, and just made its local debut at the IAA show in Munich this week.
Now, the Cat isn’t new in a global sense; it’s been on sale in China since late last year, where it’s called the Ora Good Cat. There’s also the Black Cat, White Cat and Punk Cat, the last one representing the heavily Beetle-inspired compact that emerged a few months ago. All of these models sport varied exteriors, making Ora’s fleet an eggs-any-style experience with respect to cheap electric mobility. How do you want your EV? Boxy, retro or cute?
The Good Cat — which will drop the “Good” adjective for Europe — is a swoopy little hatch with a refreshingly clean exterior. It looks sophisticated, but it doesn’t try too hard. Some outlets have likened the Cat’s face to that of a Mini, Beetle or even a Porsche product, which seems like a stretch. There’s no denying the Punk Cat’s inspiration, but what does this particular model share with those cars? Circular headlights? I don’t see it. Besides, the Cat’s design is unequivocally better than the new Mini’s for the simple reason that the Cat lacks a goatee.
The exterior takes a more unexpected turn as we move to the back, as Ora has delivered one of the most interesting approaches to rear lighting I’ve seen recently. There’s a lightbar embedded into the hatch’s glass, coupled with another set of what look to be brake lights, reflectors and reverse lamps lower down on the bumper. That leaves the bulk of the hatch itself completely light-free, which looks pretty damn good against the negative space of the license plate housing.
For Europe, the Cat will be offered with different battery options, according to Electrive. One couples a 63 kWh battery supplying a single motor producing 126 kW, or 168 horsepower, and 184 lb-ft of torque, a Great Wall fact sheet quotes. That seems about equivalent to what’s offered in the Good Cat GT sold in China, a slightly hotted-up take on the little guy. Another variant on sale in China delivers 143 HP and 154 lb-ft of torque, though it’s unclear if that package will be brought to Europe.
In the 168 HP trim the Cat can reportedly reach 62 mph in 8.5 seconds. That’s Good Enough! Not every EV needs to light up the quarter mile; in fact, I’d go so far as to say way fewer should. Ora also says that battery/motor pairing can travel a maximum of 311 miles based on NEDC testing. NEDC is an antiquated methodology for measuring range, though a 311-mile result should still yield good real-world range for a compact. For reference, the Mini Cooper SE was quoted with an NEDC range of between 146 and 168 miles on a full charge, which translates to 110 miles in EPA speak.
Aside from the Ora Cat, Great Wall is also bringing a plug-in hybrid SUV called the Wey Coffee 01 to Europe. That one will reach Germany first, whereas the destination for Ora’s rollout still hasn’t been determined yet. The Cat will hit the U.K. at some point, though, with Auto Express quoting a price starting between £25,000 and £30,000. The Mini Cooper SE starts at £26K, so the Cat would seem like a promising alternative for those chiefly concerned with getting the most range for the money.