Ora happens to be the first of the new EV entrants to debut in Malaysia, mixing in with the other electrified Asian and continental models. The launch of the Ora Good Cat was a big deal and was followed by the wave of Chinese EVs to Malaysian shores.
Ora is a sub-brand of Great Wall Motors dedicated to electric vehicles. Great Wall Motors is one of the largest auto manufacturers in China and also owns the Haval, Wey and GWM brands. The name Ora seemingly stands for ‘Open’, ‘Reliable’, and ‘Alternative’. Meanwhile, the ‘Good Cat’ name follows its current naming convention, with other models being the ‘Lightning Cat’ and ‘Ballet Cat’.
We start with its general appearance which gives off a modern retro vibe. Whether you like it or not, we can all agree that it sets itself apart from the many futuristic looking EVs around. And if you think the design ‘bugs’ you, it’s because the exterior is the work of former Porsche designer, Emanuel Derta. As a new energy vehicle, the Good Cat is kitted with LED light units, most notably of which is the light bar that sits within the rear glass.
The rear also sees a reduction in mass which makes this C-segment car look more like a hatchback. And this is how the Good Cat compromises on boot space which measures at 228 litres. But it doesn’t seem too big a deal if you are using this as a city car. The boot is large enough for a workout bag, and a week’s worth of groceries. The rear seats do fold 60:40 to enlarge cargo space up to 858 litres. Of course, something like a baby stroller would eat up a fair amount of space so it takes some planning juggling humans and cargo.
And planning is what’s necessary to drive the Good Cat, or any EV for that matter. The test unit is a Good Cat 500 Ultra with a 63.1 kWh ternary lithium battery pack which supplies energy to a permanent magnet synchronous motor that produces 105 kW (143 PS) and 210 Nm of torque. As its name suggests, this Ultra variant of the Good Cat has a driving range of up to 500 km. However, this is based on the NEDC test cycle so that distance is achievable in only the most ideal of situations. So being aware of your travel needs and distance helps a lot in having to minimise disruption to your schedule and ensures you are not frantically seeking out a charging station (which you can do vocally via Google Assistant i.e. “I need to charge my car” – as long as you have EV settings set in Google Maps). Charging time depends on whether you are drawing AC power from a 3-pin outlet, a wallbox, or a DC charger, as well as the battery’s state-of-charge (SoC). On hindsight, topping up the charge overnight every night through the 3-pin outlet, though slow, would provide me with more than enough juice for the next day to not worry about range.
The Good Cat has 5 driving modes i.e. Normal, Sport, Eco, Eco+, and Auto to suit different driving preferences. This can be done conveniently through dedicated physical (plus point for this!) button to the right of the steering wheel. Eco+ is the most extreme mode which is more suited for congested roads or highway cruising. If this is too much of a hassle, just leave it in Auto mode and let the car figure out what you are trying to do. This also reminds me of an annoyance… the regenerative braking defaults to the more aggressive setting so it’s necessary to always get into the menu at every restart to switch it to something less intrusive. This is probably due to me using Eco mode quite a fair bit.
But looking at the power figures, it is comparatively tame for an EV though that isn’t a bad thing as it makes the drive feel more civil. After all, it isn’t designed to look or behave like a sporty hot hatch. Power though is higher than a conventional C-segment ICE sedan like the Corolla Altis, but it is also correspondingly heavier at around 1,510 kg.
This weight isn’t noticeable in urban drives but becomes more apparent on B-roads and highways. Its ride and handling however, is helped greatly by a pliant suspension which keeps the car planted. Except some may take issue with the slightly numb steering feel, but again, this car is very likely designed for urban use and not the Nordschleife. Overall, it is a fairly comfortable and quiet ride, with the ability to be brisk (in Sport mode). EVs however, have the unfortunate absence of engine noise to drown out other noises so there is a tendency for the trivial ones become more than they should be. Tyre noise can be improved with a change to quieter ones, but wind noise is caused by the physical form and can only be remedied by turning up the music.
Another thing I feel should be remedied is the heavy reliance on software-based user interface. It is of course much easier to tweak software for improvements or to fix shortcomings, but I would argue that physical buttons dedicated to certain vehicle functions are a necessity especially when on the move. For instance, one shouldn’t need to navigate a menu to change temperature of the climate control system when connected to Android Auto or Apple CarPlay as they takeover the screen and the climate control and vehicle settings bar on the side disappear. Incidentally, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay need a wired connection, which negates the existence of the wireless charging pad. That said, this isn’t the only car facing such issues. This peeve however, won’t apply to those who almost never use Android Auto or CarPlay, nor have a phone that can be wirelessly charged.
But there are also positive things going for the Good Cat. The lengthy 2,750 mm wheelbase affords a roomy interior for passenger comfort, brightened up by the panoramic sunroof. Furthermore, the driver’s seat has electronic adjustment and is fitted with a massage system and a position memory system. For the driver, the widescreen cockpit consisting of a 7″ digital cluster display and a 10.25″ multimedia touchscreen display has all the information and functions required. Like many cars, the touchscreen here isn’t oleophobic so it’s best to have a microfibre cloth on hand. However, the rest of the dual tone interior is pleasant, with a suede finish on the dashboard that adds visual and tactile texture, while the seats are upholstered in synthetic leather. Further, there are 2 USB ports in front, 1 port on the rear view mirror for a drive recorder, and 1 for rear passengers, as well as a 12V port up front.
Additional features include a single pedal control system (for acceleration and braking), 360-degree surround view camera system, Adaptive Cruise Control, Intelligent Cruise Assistance, Traffic Jam Assist, Intelligent Turning, Automatic Emergency Braking with Intersection function, Forward Collision Warning, Low Speed Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keep Assist, Lane Centering Assist, Emergency Lane Keeping, Lane Change Assist, Wisdom Dodge System, Traction Control System, Blind Spot Detection, Rear Collision Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Rear Cross Traffic Braking, Cornering Brake Control, Hill Start Assist, 6-spot front parking sensors, 6-spot rear parking sensors, Tyre Pressure Monitoring System, Traffic Sign Warning, Intelligent Speed Assist, ISOFIX points, and airbags in front and front sides as well as side curtain airbags.
The Good Cat 500 Ultra also comes with an integrated intelligent parking system that assists with 3 modes of automatic parking, and an additional 2 speakers for the sound system (making it 6 in total). Furthermore, its headlight system also has a welcome effect feature, and its electric folding mirrors also have a memory feature.
The Ora Good Cat 500 Ultra was launched at a price of RM169,800 in November 2022 and includes a 5-year or 150,000 km warranty, 8-year or 180,000 km battery warranty, complimentary portable and home charger, as well as 5x free labour service maintenance (scheduled maintenance is every 10,000 km). A list of EVs have launched since then with some very attractively priced options. This means you, as a consumer, have a choice to pick one that best suits your preferences on looks or performance or brand attractiveness.
For those with a very urban type of commute, or very regimented schedule e.g. school runs, office commute, etc, the Ora Good Cat is a good fit that also allows you to contribute positively to the reduction of noise and exhaust pollution. Power-wise, the Good Cat is only deficient on paper when compared to other EVs. If you are switching over from an internal combustion engine, it feels more than enough for real world usage. And if you are game for the cutesy and less conventional look, then this is the pet for you.