G6saSnq7 2023 GWM Ora 1
2023 GWM Ora 1

GWM Ora: Not good, not funky — but still fun

2023 GWM Ora 3

What is it?

Every now and then we get into a car that seems to grab attention wherever it goes. So it is with the Great Wall Motors (GWM) Ora. 

Perhaps it is the combination of cute styling, a standout powder blue finish and new Ora badge that looks much like an exclamation mark.

It draws comparisons with the New Beetle and old Nissan Micra, and had us fielding questions throughout the week.

Ora is GWM’s first EV and joins the growing list of affordable fully-electric compact vehicles to come out of China, including the MG ZS EV, MG4, BYD Atto 3 and BYD Dolphin – with more to come. 

Although there is minimal difference in their height, for some reason Ora and MG4 are classed as hatchbacks while the others are labelled SUVs.

In some overseas markets it’s branded as the Ora Good Cat or Funky Cat, but in keeping with GWM Australia’s primary brand strategy – here it’s simply the GWM Ora.

2023 GWM Ora 4

What’s it cost?

Four variants are available, Standard Range, Extended Range, Ultra and GT.

Prices start from $39,990 for the Standard Range, $45,990 for Extended Range, $48,990 for Ora Ultra and $51,990 for the top of the range GT.

The sloping bonnet has a couple of narrow decorative ribs in the centre and merges into oval-shaped LED headlights with built-in turn indicators, with the new logo in the centre. 

Standard are 18-inch wheels with the GT getting its own design as well as GT-exclusive bumpers and grille and red brake calipers. 

Both Ultra and GT add a powered tailgate and panoramic sunroof.

Five exterior two-tone colours are available. 

The dashboard has adjacent 10.25-inch screens, a full colour interactive instrument cluster on the right and multimedia touchscreen on the left. 

With so many features and controls embedded within the two screens there was a lot to learn and tiny fonts don’t help. 

For those, like me, who don’t need glasses to drive but do need them to read, it meant trying to memorise as much as possible prior to hitting the road.

The standard screen display uses light green characters on a light grey background, but produced little contrast and was difficult to read.

Fortunately, the night setting with its black background was much better and was what we used all the time.

Wired Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and wireless smartphone charging are all standard.

Ora was tested by ANCAP in February, 2023 and received a maximum five-star safety rating.

Standard safety equipment includes seven airbags, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian, cyclist and crossing detection and adaptive cruise control with stop and go plus blind spot monitoring. 

There’s just about every lane control feature ever made including lane change assist, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, lane centre keeping and emergency lane keep. 

Other important safety features include forward collision warning, rear cross traffic alert, rear collision warning, traffic sign recognition, driver drowsiness detection, 360 degree around-view camera and rear parking sensors.

2023 GWM Ora 6

What’s it go like?

Ora is powered by a single electric motor that generates 126kW of power and 250Nm of torque.

Standard Range comes with a 48kWh battery, while Extended Range, Ultra and GT all get a larger 63kWh battery.

Range from the 48kWh battery under the WLTP test cycle is up to 310km, rising to 420km with the 63kWh battery. 

The charging point is at the front on the passenger side and there are AC and DC sockets with a maximum of 11kWh from the AC charger or 80kW with DC.

Charging the 48kW battery from a standard 7kW charger will take around seven hours or about five hours from an 11kW charger. 

A 50kW rapid charger will get from 10 to 80-percent capacity in just 41 minutes ( 50 minutes with the 63kW battery).

Entry is surprisingly easy for what is a small car.

The cabin has a real quality feel with a premium look to the uncluttered dashboard which is dominated by twin 10.5-inch high definition coloured screens.

The quilted leatherette seats not only look classy but are comfortable and supportive with both driver and front passenger getting power adjustment.

The front seats in the recently-added Ultra variant have massage, heating and ventilation.

The steering wheel is reach and height adjustable and visibility is excellent in all directions with an automatic anti-glare rear-view mirror and large heated and power-adjustable door mirrors.

Interior storage space is well positioned and functional with a deep, lidded box between the front seats, behind a smartphone charging pad and clever narrow space that’s ideal for stowing the key fob.

There are two USB ports and a 12-volt charging port at the base of the dash and a third USB behind the front seats for rear passengers.

As seems to be a trend in Chinese vehicles, we found that there are too many commonly-used features, such as audio and air conditioning controls, that can be accessed only through one or other of the screens. 

There are four toggle keys below the screen, but they only turn the air on or off as well as the front and rear demisters.

The rear seats are as comfortable as the fronts with reasonable leg and foot room and excellent headroom. 

There’s a foldable armrest with twin drink-holders and a USB charging port at the base of the front seats. 

The spacious cabin does limit boot space, with just 228 litres when the rear seats are in place, expanding to 858 litres when folded. 

Unlike some other EVs there is no storage space under the bonnet.

The fun factor starts even before you’re inside, with a light show featuring flashing and rotating white and orange front lights and a vertical bar at the rear.

There’s no push button stop/start in the Ora, but once you’re inside the car somehow knows to power up.

And it’s good to go once you’ve selected either forward or reverse from the rotary gear selector in the centre console. 

Putting that aside the little Ora is a really enjoyable car to drive. 

Like other EVs it combines silent running with instant torque.

Its relatively compact dimensions combined with a bright and surprisingly spacious interior takes away much of the drudgery of urban driving. 

Ora cruises smoothly and comfortably on the motorway with its sharp acceleration making for fast and safe overtaking. 

Out on the open road the ride and handling are impressive with only a little, but acceptable body-roll when cornering.

There are three brake regeneration levels as well as a one-pedal option which will bring the vehicle to a complete halt without using the brake pedal. 

Unfortunately, any change to the levels needs to be made through the infotainment screen rather than with steering wheel paddles as is the case in some other vehicles.

We tested the claimed 420km range and found it to be quite accurate. 

In our 87km trip to Sydney to return the car, in a mix of motorway and suburban conditions, the range dropped by 94km.

2023 GWM Ora 5

What we like?

  • Default screen difficult to read
  • Wireless smartphone charging standard
  • Five-star safety rating
  • Cabin has a real quality feel

2023 GWM Ora 5

What we don’t like?

  • Limited boot space
  • No storage space under the bonnet
  • Too many commonly-used features accessed only through screen 
  • Regenerative braking levels can only be changed through screen

2023 GWM Ora 7

The bottom line?

Although we came across a few people who baulked at the Ora’s distinctive looks, most comment was positive, especially from younger people – although it’s probably out of their price range.

In the past, when asked for an opinion on electric vehicles – and its easily the most commonly asked question – our standard reply has been to hold off until the prices come down and the driving range goes up. Say, three or four years from now.

With the rapid growth in the number and variety of Chinese EVs arriving here and consequent increase in competition bringing down prices to just over $40,000 driveaway and a range over 400km, that time is rapidly decreasing. 

With its combination of cute styling, competitive price and 7-year unlimited kilometre warranty, the GWM Ora is certain to make its mark and become one of the major contenders in what is sure to become an important market segment.

2023 GWM Ora 6


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  • Looks - 9/10
  • Performance - 8/10
  • Safety - 9/10
  • Thirst - 8/10
  • Practicality - 8/10
  • Comfort - 8/10
  • Tech - 7/10
  • Value - 9/10

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