It’s unclear how many, if any, women were involved in the development of the Ora Ballet Cat, perhaps the car in recent history most overtly targeted at women.
Arguably the most controversial feature of the retro-styled electric hatchback is the so-called Warm Man Mode which, when activated, turns on the seat and steering wheel heating and adjusts the air-conditioning.
“Drivers are cold, and don’t panic during menstruation,” says the translated press release.
“One-click to turn on the ‘warm man mode’ and the seat heating, air-conditioning etc are linked together to warm the body and mind.”
It’s not the only unusually named mode in the electric hatchback, sold under the Ora brand of China’s Great Wall Motor.
“Ride the wind and waves mode” is designed to be activated in case of sudden rain or snow.
Press the button and the windows are closed, the air-conditioning turned on, and the adaptive cruise control, lights and wipers are adjusted.
There’s also a “goddess mode”, which GWM cryptically says makes the steering wheel easy to control. We imagine this is simply a lighter mode for the electrically-assisted steering.
Finally, a Kids Mode plays nursery rhymes for your baby in the back seat, and GWM says the mother can check the status of the children in the back in real time.
The Ballet Cat’s colour palette consists of a range of soft pastels, some of which are available as part of a two-tone scheme with off-white paint used on the fenders for an even more retro look.
The soft colours continue inside, with images showing a distinctive tri-tone interior comprising pale peach, white and grey colours.
Technically, black is standard even as GWM talks about abandoning the “oppressive” medieval black and grey. Besides pink, you can also select blue and “brown rice” interior colourways.
As “beauty is an ongoing need for women”, there’s a “secret space” in the centre console that contains a makeup box.
Additionally, the large vanity mirrors in the sunvisors are encircled by a thin strip of LED lighting, in a similar vein to the ring lights popularly used for flattering selfies. GWM says the lighting has been designed specifically for Asian women.
The centre console-mounted wireless charging pad is surrounded by a crystal trim piece that GWM calls Swan Lake, which is illuminated by the ambient lighting.
GWM has sweated the details, even giving the digital instrument cluster and touchscreen infotainment system soft pastel blue and pink graphics.
Metal-look rocker switches are used for the minimalist centre stack.
GWM says the seats have been designed to be a “perfect fit for women’s sitting posture” and offer “soft and comfortable hugging pleasure”.
Indeed, the press release is endlessly quotable, with gems like, “Let your beauty follow you, with light in your eyes and love in your heart”.
GWM says the Ballet Cat has gone through “rigorous” female experience testing and is an “exclusive confession” of the company’s love for women, adding, “They deserve more beauty and more dedicated protection.”
There are four variants, each with fairytale names: the Alice and Nutcracker editions, with a claimed 401km of range, and the Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake editions, with 500km of range.
Both of those figures are under the more lenient CLTC test cycle.
All models feature a single, front-mounted electric motor with 126kW of power and 250Nm of torque.
The Ballet Cat features four-wheel independent suspension, with MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link set-up at the rear.
It measures 4401mm long, 1867mm wide and 1633mm tall on a 2750mm wheelbase, making it roughly the same size as a Mazda 3 hatch.
There’s a suite of active safety and driver assist equipment standard across the range.
This includes autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection and intersection assist, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keep assist, a surround-view camera, and adaptive cruise control.
Warm Man Mode and Kids Mode are standard only on the Nutcracker and Swan Lake variants, though you can get the former on the Alice and Sleeping Beauty – that’s possibly one of the strangest sentences I’ve ever written in a news article.
The Ballet Cat joins the White Cat, Black Cat and Good Cat in the Chinese-market Ora range.
The range will also grow to include the Punk Cat, a similarly classic Volkswagen Beetle-inspired electric hatch.
Only the Good Cat has been confirmed for an Australian launch; it’s badged Cat or Funky Cat, depending on the export market.
Great Wall Motor isn’t the first automaker to develop an overtly female-focused vehicle.
Perhaps the most (in)famous example is the 1955 Dodge La Femme, which was introduced with two-tone white and rose exterior paint and interior upholstery, and a special trapezoidal compartment on the front seatback for a specially designed purse.
The purse, which came standard with every La Femme, included in it a compact, lipstick case, cigarette case and change purse, while the Dodge also came with a patterned raincoat, rain bonnet and umbrella to match the interior fabric.
In the years since, Japanese brands have picked up this mantle, with female-focused special editions like the Honda Fit She’s and Toyota Passo Moda Charm.
Even if they haven’t been marketed as explicitly female-focused models, numerous Japanese special editions like the Mitsubishi Mirage Hello Kitty Edition and Suzuki Lapin Chocolat have been introduced with more stereotypically feminine colour schemes and decor.
MORE: Brand Overview: Ora