Ora Good Cat First Drive Review : Cat Flight
Bangkok, Thailand - We’re no stranger to economy runs from Singapore to Thailand and vice versa, but it’s not often we find ourselves at the helm of an electric car embarking on a cross country road trip of the like.
Earlier this August, we got behind the wheel of the ORA Good Cat as part of Great Wall Motor’s (GWM) EV Convoy Tour, the first trip of its kind from the Chinese Manufacturer.
Granted, EV road trips aren’t unheard of; we’ve been on one such trip ourselves last year in a fleet of Audi e-tron models up north to Kuala Lumpur. But where KL is a relatively short 360km away, a trip from Thailand to Singapore is over five times longer – longer still, if your trip includes detours (especially for delicious street food!).
We know that it’s possible for an EV to complete the BKK-SG trip in 25 hours 15 minutes, but our journey in the ORA Good Cat 500 Ultra (as it’s badged in Thailand and Malaysia) took us along a multitude of scenic coastal roads and highways – a trip that spanned over 2,200km long.
Mercifully, the duration of the GWM EV Convoy Tour wasn’t measured in hours but in days, so we had about a week to travel down south from the Bangna District in Bangkok to Singapore in this curiously styled electric hatchback.
ORA Good Cat - Design
Visually, the Good Cat looks like a convoluted mix of sixties design cues, especially so in the front. The round headlamps and fenders are evocative of Porsche 356 or early VW Beetles, no doubt the work of the car’s designer Emanuel Derta, an ex-Porsche designer himself.
True to ORA’s “retro futuristic” design approach, those headlamps feature chrome surrounds - a common design element in pre-eighties production cars.
When viewed from the side, the car’s silhouette bears a slight resemblance to that of the Fiat 500s, with short overhangs and a steeply raked rear tailgate. A full width tail lamp resides within the rear windshield, with turn indicators and reverse lamps housed in the bumper.
In many ways, the ORA Good Cat is outlandishly styled. A smorgasbord of pre-seventies design and futuristic touches. But we’ll say this about the Good Cat’s design; it’s a good end result, one that also translates well to the cabin with its generous list of standard features and nostalgic cues.
Mounted on the dashboard is a single panel that houses a 10.25-inch infotainment screen and a gauge cluster (10.25-inches in the Singapore-bound ORA Good Cat 03). Lower on the dashboard one will find a toggle switch panel – very reminiscent of MINI switchgear – that houses the hazard lights and HVAC controls.
The Thai/Malaysian specced Good Cat also features an electronic driver’s seat with a massage function but it's worth noting that the Singapore variants will have electronic/massage seats for both front occupants with seat ventilation, which we sorely lacked on our journey.
In the rear however, the back seats are identical across all Good Cats, which means that rear occupants have ample head and leg room in the airy cabin. But that interior space comes at the expense of less usable boot capacity – 228 litres, if you’re wondering.
ORA Good Cat - Powertrain
The Good Cat’s single motor drivetrain is nestled under the hood, good for 143 horsepower and 210Nm of torque. Top speed is quoted at 152km/h (capable of more) but bizarrely, the car’s 0-100km/h time isn’t listed in the spec sheets.
But in an EV made primarily for navigating inner city streets and town centres, such performance metrics are hardly relevant. The ORA Good Cat is more than capable of propelling you forward at a modest pace that matches most Cat A COE cars in Singapore – incidentally, the same COE band that the ORA Good Cat falls within given its sub-150hp output.
ORA Good Cat - The Journey
This isn’t a car that should be judged solely on its numbers, regardless of what the spec sheet would have you believe. In our experience, EVs aren’t exactly sluggish off the line and their high torque figures effectively make them feel quicker than their specs would suggest – it's the same story with the Good Cat.
A gentle prod of the throttle is enough to get you up to highway speeds in approximately 9 seconds. Past that, the car settles into a gentle rhythm that behaves not unlike any other compact EV.
It’s got enough pace and torque aplenty to allow smooth overtakes and lane transitions, but mellows to a gentle cruise out when your right foot eases off the throttle.
The car copes well with bumps and undulations on coarser tarmac and offers an impressive level of comfort and refinement as we wove along the coastal roads of Nakhon Si Thammarat. NVH levels are impressive too, but tyre noise and buffeting does get somewhat pronounced when you exceed the speed limit.
From the dual carriageways of Thailand’s southern states to the North-South Expressway of Malaysia, the Good Cat remained poised and unflappable even as we passed triple digits on the speedometer barreling down toward Kuala Lumpur.
We only encountered one minor setback as our battery percentage dipped to single digits and the car was limited to 80km/h. Full disclosure, that incident was not due to the car’s electrified nature, but by virtue of the driver’s lead foot.
In fact, the car’s 16.7kWh/100km efficiency rating is a modest one. On our trip, our trip computer showed us an average of 14kWh/100km and lower. Factoring in the car’s 63.14kWh battery pack, our math puts the car’s usable range well past its 420km quoted figure.
Obviously, there were numerous charging stops scattered across our week-long 2,200km journey where the cars were juiced up before we moved on. But because the nature of the EV Convoy Tour was as relaxed as it was, most of the charging/luggage hauling duties were carried out by the affable and accommodating staff of GWM Thailand. We only needed to concern ourselves with the driving, and so we did, whilst enjoying a mixture of tunes from lounge house music, pop ballads and even the odd Mandarin song.
ORA Good Cat - Conclusion
Seven days, seven hotel rooms and over two thousand kilometres later, we arrived at the final destination on our journey: the newly opened GWM Showroom at 239 Alexandra Road.
As long as the trip was, it gave us a chance to fully immerse ourselves in the beautiful scenery and the ORA Good Cat - among the first in Singapore to do so.
Along the journey, the Good Cat served us faithfully and dependably. It’s not an exaggeration when I say that the only issues we encountered were charging woes, often due to the queues at the numerous charging stops we came across.
Starting at S$164,999 (at the time of writing), the ORA Good Cat is among the cheapest EVs you can buy today. But it is also the one with the largest battery and longest range in its class. This, coupled with the extensive list of creature comforts and standard features, makes it a standout hatchback in the EV space.
While most buyers of the ORA Good Cat in Singapore won’t be embarking on such a trip, the GWM EV Convoy Tour 2023 is a clear proof of concept that it can be done. If anything, the Good Cat proved to be an excellent companion for our journey down south.
All it takes is proper planning and luck. You’ll need the latter to find a vacant charging spot.
PHOTOS Jay Tee and GWM
ORA Good Cat 63.14kWh
Battery 63.14kWh, Ternary Lithium Battery
Electric Motor 143hp/210Nm
Electric Range up to 420km (WLTP)
0-100km/h approx 9 seconds (not listed)
Top Speed 152km/h (electronically limited)
LxWxH 4235 x 1825 x 1596mm
Efficiency 16.7kWh/100km (Combined)
Charging 100kW DC, 11kW AC