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GWM Ora 2023 review

  • DrivetrainSingle electric motor
  • Battery capacity48kWh (base)/63kWh (long range and GT)
  • Battery typeLithium Iron Phosphate
  • Range320km WLTP (base)/420km (long range)/400km (GT)
  • Plug TypeCCS Type 2
  • DC charge rate80kW
  • AC charge rate11kW
  • Motor output126kW/250Nm
  • Efficiency(20.6 kWh/100km)
Complete Guide to GWM Ora

A small-car invasion from a new country is nothing new. The Japanese did it in the 1960s and '70s with the likes of Datsun, Toyota and Mitsubishi rewriting the book on what Aussies wanted in a small car. 

The South Koreans did it again in the 1990s with Hyundai and Kia introducing their own take on the subject, as well as forcing everybody to take a long, hard look at their pricing structures into the bargain.

And now it’s China’s turn to realign local perceptions. And realignment is probably playing it down, because the notable new entrants from Chinese makers BYD and MG have taught us that not only has small-car packaging changed once again, but the very heart of the car – its power source – has also taken a hard left turn.

Yep, electrification is where it’s heading at this end of the geo-political car-making world, and just to reinforce that, GWM has waded in with its own small EV.

The car in question is known variously as the Good Cat and even Funky Cat in some markets, but thankfully, we’ll be spared the lost-in-translation badgework, with the car instead hitting local showrooms as simple the GWM Ora. 

But are those alternative names metaphors for a car that perhaps won’t translate too well into Strine? Or can the GWM tiddler ditch the cringe and take on the best of the rest?

Price and features - Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

GWM does not back away from the premise that value-for-money is a cornerstone of its business plan. In fact, the pricing will probably attract as many would-be buyers as any other element of the Ora’s design or marketing, so the sticker price is a big deal.

The base-model variant of the Ora will carry an MSRP of $43,990 (which will rise when drive-away pricing is revealed). 

The Ora features two 10.25-inch screens. The Ora features two 10.25-inch screens.

That gets you the 48kWh battery (for a 320km range) 18-inch alloy wheels, dual 10.25-inch screens, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 360-degree surround-view camera, active cruise-control, synthetic  leather seat trim, intelligent start (no starter button) and plenty of driver aids (see the Safety section).

The same specification is offered with the long-range battery which extends range to 420km. Equipment levels are identical to the base-model, but the extra battery capacity lifts the MSRP to $47,990.

The Ora wears 18-inch alloy wheels. The Ora wears 18-inch alloy wheels.

For those with a little more to spend, there’s also an upmarket variant of the Ora, dubbed Ora GT. At $53,990, it’s a bit pricier than the other Oras, but it does run to some classy gear including a panoramic sunroof, specific 18-inch alloys, different bumpers and grille, a hands-free electric tailgate, a powered driver’s seat with memory, automatic parking and red brake calipers. 

More importantly, there’s a little extra power available (GWM hasn’t told us how much more, but figure on a handful of kiloWatts) although that does drop the projected range from 420 to 400km

Design - Is there anything interesting about its design?

As GWM’s first EV-specific platform, the Ora’s underpinnings have been designed to be modular and, therefore, scalable to allow the brand to create larger and smaller vehicles from the same basic architecture. 

The design also allows for a second electric motor to be added to boost performance, range and offer all-wheel-drive to future models.

The Ora has a retro design. The Ora has a retro design.

In terms of styling, the Ora is a little bit out there in the small SUV market sector, but for those already jaded by the same-ness of some mainstream designs, the Ora might provide more visual interest.

There are quite a few retro touches, including a little latter-day VW Beetle around the nose and some Mini (or even early Nissan Micra) in the overall shape. Maybe, - just maybe – if you squint, there’s a hint of scaled-down Porsche Panamera in there, too.

The Ora doesn't have a baby giraffe look like some small SUVs. The Ora doesn't have a baby giraffe look like some small SUVs.

Beyond that, the Ora is perhaps not as small as it looks in pictures. In fact, it’s roughly VW Golf or Toyota Corolla sized thanks to an overall length of 4235mm and width of  1603mm. 

The big difference is in height where the GWM’s SUV-ness starts to play out with an overall height of 1825mm. The styling, however, seems well enough integrated that the car doesn’t have that baby giraffe look some smaller SUVs display.

Practicality - How practical is the space inside?

The result of the car’s extra height is that the seats can be arranged to sit occupants in a fairly upright way and that, in turn, means this is a small car that can actually sit two six-footers one behind the other. 

There’s good headroom at the same time, too, even though the standard sunroof does eat into the space a little if you’re exceptionally long in the torso. Despite this the Ora suddenly comes into focus as a genuine small family-car contender in accommodation terms.

The front seats are okay (if you don’t mind that upright thing) but the rear bench is a bit flat for bigger posteriors. 

Inside there’s good headroom. Inside there’s good headroom.

Better news is that the synthetic trim GWM has specified feels more like leather than vinyl and the company has gone to decent lengths to give the car a more upmarket look and feel. 

Central to that is the quilted seat facings and door trims. And where you might be expecting lots of hard plastics, most of the touch points above the knee are, in fact, quite plush, too. 

The dashpad is a great example and, when combined with the rather striking two-tone colour schemes on offer, the Ora reveals itself to be anything but nasty. 

The rear bench is a bit flat for bigger posteriors.  The rear bench is a bit flat for bigger posteriors. 

As we said, that’s above the knee, because the hard plastics we were expecting do eventually turn up; on the lower door trims and the centre console. 

Bottle holders in each door and plenty of cubby spaces around the cabin will make the Ora as easy to live with as any other small SUV. That said, we would have liked a reach adjustable steering column.

And just to prove that the Chinese (and this isn’t just GWM) can’t help themselves helping themselves to somebody else’s design language, the row of toggle switches under the air vents is, depending on your point of view, either a homage or a rip-off of the BMW Mini’s switches of two decades ago. 

The dash and steering wheel are two-tone. The dash and steering wheel are two-tone.

Those air-vents, which run right across the dash add a bit of visual interest, as does the two-tone, twin-spoke steering wheel, and the dual 10.25 inch info screens make a bit of a tech statement, too.

Despite having the batteries under the floor and the motor slung between the front wheels, there’s not actually any luggage space in the frunk. 

  • Boot space is rated at 228 litres.  Boot space is rated at 228 litres. 
  • With the rear seats folded flat, cargo capacity increases to 858L. With the rear seats folded flat, cargo capacity increases to 858L.

It does open, but only to reveal a bank of electronics and controllers. Which means the luggage space with the rear seat in place is a relatively small 228 litres

Fold the rear bench down, however, and space opens up to 858 litres. The rear bench also incorporates three child restraint points across its 60/40 split backrest. 

Drivetrain - What are the key stats for the drivetrain?

The Ora uses a single electric motor driving the front wheels only. It’s a pure electric vehicle and, in fact, represents GWM’s first 100 per cent electric model. 

Power from the motor is 126kW and there’s 250Nm of torque available. The platform is also scalable, so larger (or even smaller) EVs could be spun off the basic architecture as GWM gets its EV line-up firing.

Typically, there’s no multi-speed transmission, just the single-speed reduction unit to give the car the road speed it requires. Gears are selected by a rotary dial in the centre-console.

The Ora has a single-speed gearbox. The Ora has a single-speed gearbox.

While GWM says no dual-motor version of the Ora will be offered here, there is the option of a larger battery for greater range. Check out the energy consumption section for the details of that.

Even though it’s an EV-specific platform, the suspension remains fairly conventional with MacPherson struts at the front and a simple, but compact torsion-bar rear suspension. Electric power steering is also fitted.

Energy consumption - How much does it consume? What’s the range like, and what it’s like to recharge/refuel?

GWM will offer the Ora with a choice of battery layouts. The cheapest version will have a single Lithium Iron Phosphate battery of 48kWh, which claims to give a 320km range (WLPT). 

By adding the second battery, you take the capacity up to 63kWh and increase the official range to 420km.

Opt for the GT with its slight power increase and that range drops to 400km. It's worth mentioning that those range numbers are line-ball with the BYD Atto 3's numbers.

Either way, the Ora will be a single-motor car with no plans to offer a dual-motor version. The vehicle can be configured to give one-pedal driving to maximise energy regeneration from braking in typical urban traffic.

Fast charging is via a CCS Type 2 port. Fast charging is via a CCS Type 2 port.

The Ora can be charged at a maximum 11kW on an AC outlet and up to 80kW on a DC fast-charger. 

That, says GWM, is enough to take the Ora from 10 to 80 per cent charged in 41 minutes. And on a 50kW charger, the Ora should go from 30 to 80 per cent charged in about 30 minutes. 

Fast charging is via a CCS Type 2 port. GWM is also investigating the option of a home-charging station for Ora customers.

Real world power consumption should be around the 15 to 16kWh combined mark, although as with any EV, highway kilometres will take a chunk out of that range estimate. 

And, of course, as with any EV, a GWM Ora venturing outside urban centres will be at the mercy of our underdone and, frankly, unreliable charging infrastructure, something that is not changing fast enough.

Safety - What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

The GWM Ora has been tested according to Euro NCAP protocols and scored the maximum five stars for safety. In fact, Euro NCAP named the Ora as the best performer in the small family car class after its 2022 round of testing. It also received a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating.

Because the upper-tier models are based on extra equipment and battery performance, the basic safety package extends across every version of the Ora. 

That includes autonomous emergency braking, active cruise-control, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assistant (including an emergency function) forward collision warning, collision avoidance, rear cross-traffic alert, door-open warning and road-sign recognition.

Ownership - What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

GWM offers the Ora with its seven-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. That includes five years of free roadside assistance and there’s capped-price servicing although the pricing details of that hadn’t been announced when we drove the car.

The Ora should, also be typical of other EVs in being relatively inexpensive to service thanks to the lack of moving parts and complexity compared with a conventionally-powered car.

The Ora is covered by a seven-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. The Ora is covered by a seven-year/unlimited kilometre warranty.

The big running-cost determinant, meanwhile, will be whether you can charge the car at home rather than paying for a fast-charger. 

And if you do charge at home, if you do it with solar power or any other form of renewable energy, the environmental costs (as well as the fiscal ones) also fall.

Driving - What's it like to drive?

The 126kW of power and 250Nm of torque place the Ora smack bang in the middle of its competition in performance terms. 

GWM claims a 0-100km/h sprint of 8.5 seconds for the car which, while unremarkable, fells like plenty in the context of the car’s aspirations and the expectations of its target audience. 

Crucially, like any EV, the Ora is very smooth and gives the impression of being pretty frisky thanks to the instant torque on offer.

Our biggest complaint is the Ora's ride quality. Our biggest complaint is the Ora's ride quality.

The controls all feel a bit muted with steering that is vice-free but also unspectacular in terms of its ratio of feedback for the driver. 

Brake pedal feel is good and there’s no doubt the car tracks truly and evenly even at highway speeds.

What the Ora doesn’t really do, however, is encourage you to explore its dynamics much further than that. A tightening corner can see the front end start to load up a little with feel and accuracy disappearing at that point. 

The Ora is very smooth. The Ora is very smooth.

There are selectable drive modes which tailor the steering weight, but not the ratio. Again, this is hardly a criticism given the car’s design brief. It remains, though, that the Ora is possibly slightly less athletic than it looks.

Our biggest complaint would be the ride quality and it’s here that the relatively short wheelbase and extra kerb weight of all those batteries start to gang up on the GWM a little. 

With a kerb mass of something like 1500kg, the Ora is a good 200 or 300 kilos more than its ICE-powered competition. And all that weight starts to show up when you hit a larger bump.

There’s no doubt the car tracks truly and evenly even at highway speeds. There’s no doubt the car tracks truly and evenly even at highway speeds.

Smaller ripples in the road doesn’t seem to bother the car as much, but bigger amplitude bumps start to outsmart the dampers – more so if the bumps come in twos and threes and not in isolation. 

The result is a car that feels like it lacks either suspension compliance or travel (perhaps both).

Noise is another let-down, but that’s partly due to the relative silence of the drivetrain (something that haunts all EV NVH engineers). 

There’s some tyre and wind noise (mainly from the exterior mirrors) but the suspension also contributes a bit of bump-thump when it’s tested.

  • DrivetrainSingle electric motor
  • Battery capacity48kWh (base)/63kWh (long range and GT)
  • Battery typeLithium Iron Phosphate
  • Range320km WLTP (base)/420km (long range)/400km (GT)
  • Plug TypeCCS Type 2
  • DC charge rate80kW
  • AC charge rate11kW
  • Motor output126kW/250Nm
  • Efficiency(20.6 kWh/100km)
Complete Guide to GWM Ora

There’s quite a bit to like here. That starts with the price and extends to the look-at-me styling and interior that won’t be mistaken for anything else. Safety also seems well covered off, and the equipment levels are impressive. Pony up for the long-range model, and one of the car’s main disappointments – that 320km range – diminishes somewhat.

Dynamically, the GWM is less impressive, with a slightly lumpen ride quality and no real inclination to turn commuters into enthusiasts. Fair enough, and the Ora is hardly alone in that regard in the small SUV category.

If GWM set out to build a car that could accommodate bigger people in a small package and do it with a bit of showroom flair, then the Chinese brand has got pretty close to the brief. The Ora mightn’t be for everybody, but other manufacturers inhabiting the same end of the EV pool will ignore it at their peril.

Fundamentally, here is another car that is set to change everybody’s perceptions of what the Chinese can do with four wheels and an electric motor, as well as lock out any contenders of similar quality that can’t give that sub-$50,000 psychological barrier a proper hiding. 

Note: CarsGuide attended this event as a guest of the manufacturer, with meals provided.


Based on new car retail price



Price Guide


Based on new car retail price

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