Pros
    • Sharp entry price
    • Distinctive design inside and out
    • Long warranty, cheap servicing
    Cons
    • Small boot, some cheap plastics
    • Slow DC charging
    • Tyre noise on coarse roads

    While the MG 4 and BYD Dolphin seem to generate more headlines and clicks, there’s another $40,000 electric vehicle from China that’s on sale and in stock: The GWM Ora.

    Sporting cutesy, almost retro design, the Ora looks tailor-made for a fashionable inner-city buyer keen on switching to an EV. Do we have a cut-price Mini Electric or Fiat 500e on our hands?

    That parallel goes more than skin deep, considering Great Wall Motor (GWM) and BMW Mini have an existing joint venture to build their next-generation city EVs in China.

    While the Ora brand is new to market, its parent isn’t. It is the same GWM that makes the eponymous Ute, the Haval SUV range, and the Tank 300 off-roader.

    As well as its compelling price point, the Ora offers a competitive claimed driving range of more than 300km, five-star safety rating, and undeniably nice-looking interior.

    Let’s hope the recent recall notice detailed here is just a speed bump.

    How much does the GWM Ora cost?

    There are three GWM Ora variants to choose from, with the version here being the Standard Range base model.

    This base price equates to varied drive-away pricing across Australia: For example it’s $41,000 in NSW, $42,500 in Victoria and $41,500 in Queensland. This puts it at cost parity with a top-of-the-range Toyota Corolla Hybrid.

    Alongside its closest competitors: the MG 4 (from $38,990) and BYD Dolphin (from $38,890) it shows China’s price advantage at the bottom end of the market against competitors that are $10,000 to $15,000 more expensive.

    GWM Ora pricing:

    • GWM Ora Standard Range: $39,990
    • GWM Ora Extended Range: $45,990
    • GWM Ora Ultra Range: $48,990
    • GWM Ora GT: $51,990

    Prices exclude on-road costs

    What is the GWM Ora like on the inside?

    The interior presents well, with a clean and uncluttered design.

    The blue-stitched seats are trimmed in faux leather and suede and look great, but are also a little short in the base. The two-spoke steering wheel has touch-sensitive button banks and an adaptive cruise control stalk on the column.

    The wheel moves for rake and reach, and the seats have plenty of powered adjustments. The design’s large windows and snub bonnet mean there’s ample outward visibility for the driver.

    A single screen surround spans more than half the dash and combines the instruments and centre touchscreen. The driver’s display has a nifty live animation of the lane-keeping system at work, as well as the usual digital speedo and trip data.

    Meanwhile the centre touchscreen processes touch inputs quickly and offers a sharp overhead camera display, as well as decent six-speaker audio playing AM/FM/Bluetooth or USB media.

    The Ora also offers Apple CarPlay, but no sat-nav or Android Auto capability – this latter point being a disappointment for those who don’t use an iPhone.

    Below this large display unit are slim vents and rocker switches pinched from a Mini Cooper; however, most of the AC controls are via touchscreen menus – which you can pull up with a shortcut button on the wheel.

    The gear shifter is a knurled rotary dial that looks the part, but is let down by the cheap plastics that surround it, and the fact that it spins freely without stopping once you’re in either Drive or Reverse. It’s the little things…

    GWM has to its credit made an effort to add a bit of a posh feel, by using a suede-like material on the dash, console lid and doors. The way the curved dash and door blend into one smooth line near the A-pillar is pure Jaguar XE.

    However, there are also plenty of cheap-feeling plastics on areas such as the centre tunnel and lower portions of the dash. To its credit, the build quality itself is pretty solid with no squeaks or rattles to speak of.

    There’s plenty of storage in the door bins, cupholders and cubby below the centre fascia, console and glovebox, plus there’s a wireless phone charger next to your left elbow, as well as two USBs and one 12V outlet.

    Despite being only 4235mm long (between a Toyota Yaris and Corolla) the Ora offers heaps of rear legroom and headroom even for adults, courtesy of the EV platform’s space efficiency.

    There are no rear vents, just a USB plug, but the side windows are quite big and lend some airiness to the cabin.

    There’s a sense that you’re situated quite close to the rear hatch; however, in order to maximise rear legroom.

    This is confirmable courtesy of the poky little 228-litre boot, with just a tyre repair kit underneath. The back seats do at least fold down to liberate 858L of cargo space.

    What’s under the bonnet?

    The Ora is front-wheel drive and powered by a 126kW/250Nm electric motor. The power source in base guise is a 48kWh 400V battery using LFP chemistry like the MG 4, BYD Dolphin, and entry Tesla Model 3 and Y.

    GWM claims a driving range of 310km on the European WLTP driving cycle for the base model and a 0-100km/h time of 8.4 seconds. The BYD Dolphin claims 340km WLTP and the MG 4 claims 350km. The Ora offers neither vehicle-to-load (V2L) bi-directional charging, nor a tow rating.

    Best-case scenario you could charge the battery from 10-80 per cent on a DC charger in about 45 minutes, with speed peaking just above 60kW but tapering off to 40kW and less, after the state-of-charge passes halfway.

    The peak AC charge power is 11kW on three-phase, but most homes will run a single-phase 7kW-capable unit that should take 6 hours or so.

    On a side note, the GWM Ora Extended Range, Ultra and GT models use a larger 63kWh ternary (NMC chemistry) battery promising a range of 400km to 420km depending on wheels and tyres.

    GWM Ora Standard Range:

    • Power: 126kW
    • Torque: 250Nm
    • Drive: Front wheel
    • WLTP range: 310km
    • Battery: 48kW LFP
    • Kerb weight: 1540kg

    How does the GWM Ora drive?

    This is a car designed for urban dwellers, who may do the occasional longer stint at the wheel, and it behaves accordingly.

    The motor offers plenty of pep with the typical instantaneous delivery of torque found in all EVs, meaning you can really jolt off the line at the lights. Push too hard and you’ll get some wheelspin.

    The ride comfort is typically quite good, although sharp impacts such as bridge expansion joints or potholes aren’t as rounded off by the springs and dampers as they could be.

    At a kerb weight of 1540kg, the Ora is quite light by EV standards and feels suitably darty and agile. Its softish springs designed for comfort over speed bumps mean there’s often a little bit of body tilting in corners, but it’s controlled.

    It’s not quite as polished and finessed as the rear-drive MG 4, but as a city commuter it won’t push any noses out of joint either.

    The suspension is a simple setup comprising MacPherson struts at the front and a torsion beam at the rear. The motor-driven steering offers a turning circle of 11.2m.

    If you do go outside the city limits and find yourself on coarse-chip tarmac or gravel, you’ll notice a little more tyre roar than you might like, further suggesting the Giti-branded rubber has room for improvement.

    As with many EVs you don’t need to solely rely on the brakes to slow down. The brake-energy recuperation has three levels of resistance when you lift off the accelerator, plus a one-pedal drive model which is gentler than most.

    However, much to my frustration, adjusting it requires a dig through the touchscreen menus. Likewise the Driver Monitoring system powered a camera on the A-pillar, which at times became too intrusive.

    As others have said, the lane-keeping assist feature is also in need of a little finesse and it would be nice to be presented with a more intuitive means of turning it off. GWM isn’t alone in this regard, it must be said.

    I don’t think the 310km range claim is easy to match if you do any highway time. The first charge on a mixed loop gave me 260km, while a trip to regional Victoria at 110km/h cut this back to 230km.

    This is perfectly adequate for an urban commuter, but there may be times when you want more.

    What do you get?

    Exterior

    • 18-inch alloy wheels
    • 215/50 R18 tyres
    • Tyre-pressure monitor
    • Tyre repair kit
    • Auto LED headlights
    • Rear parking sensors
    • Rear privacy glass
    • Heated door mirrors
    • Proximity sensing key

    Interior

    • Faux leather seats
    • Powered front seats
    • Wireless phone charger
    • 10.25-inch instruments
    • 10.25-inch touchscreen
    • Apple CarPlay
    • Surround-view cameras
    • Front and rear USBs
    • Climate control

    Is the GWM Ora safe?

    The GWM Ora carries a five-star ANCAP safety rating with 2022 date stamp.

    It achieved 92 per cent for adult occupant protection, 84 per cent for child occupant protection, 74 per cent for vulnerable road user protection, and 93 per cent for safety assist features.

    Standard safety equipment includes:

    • 7 airbags inc. front centre
    • Autonomous emergency braking
      • Car, pedestrian, cyclist, junction
    • Adaptive cruise control
    • Lane-keeping aids
    • Traffic Jam Assist
    • Traffic sign recognition
    • Safe exit assist
    • Driver drowsiness monitor
    • Rear ISOFIX and top tethers

    How much does the GWM Ora cost to run?

    GWM provides a seven-year warranty for the car and eight years for the battery, plus five years of roadside assist. Each of the first five services are capped at just $99 (intervals 12 months or 15,000km).

    While charging costs are of course variable, recharging the 48kWh battery from near flat to full at a power rate of 30 cents per kWh for example would be $14. At a typical DC fast charger expect this price to be about double.

    Of course if you charge off-peak, on an EV plan, or from your home solar, you’ll be paying just a few bucks.

    CarExpert’s Take on the GWM Ora

    The GWM Ora EV is probably going to be sold on its design.

    If you dig it, you dig it, and as a daily commuter and second family car it should work pretty well.

    There are areas that need improvement: some cabin trims, boot capacity, driver-assist user experience, tyre noise and DC charging speeds.

    But it’s also competitively priced, with lots of warranty and cheap servicing, has a handsome interior with room for four adults, and generally good road manners with some pep in its step.

    Better than the base MG 4 or BYD Dolphin? Having only driven the former, it’s a no from this writer. But at the very least the GWM Ora deserves more recognition and consideration.

    Click the images for the full gallery

    BUY: GWM Ora
    MORE: Everything GWM Ora

    Mike Costello
    Mike Costello is a Senior Contributor at CarExpert.
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    7.6
    Overall Rating

    Cost of Ownership9.5
    Ride Comfort7
    Safety9.1
    Fit for Purpose7
    Handling Dynamics6.5
    Interior Practicality and Space7.5
    Fuel Efficiency7.5
    Value for Money8.5
    Performance7.5
    Technology Infotainment6
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