GWM Ora review: Good karma, great Ora

Dave McLeod
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GWM Ora (Front)


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The GWM Ora is a funky, urban-chic, all-electric compact car from Chinese automaker Great Wall Motors and is the latest entry into NZ’s ever-growing desire for electric vehicles. It's a sleek little number that’s turning heads with its unique design, impressive specs, and affordable price tag.

First things first, let's talk about its smile-inducing kerbside appeal. The new Ora offers up a rounded, retro-inspired body that's both playful and sophisticated, with a grille that looks like it could've been lifted straight out of a cartoon. But don't let the cute exterior fool you, the GWM Ora screams modernity too, with LED headlights, 18-inch alloys, 360-degree camera views and an abundance of parking sensors.

The compact EV comes in three specific models: Standard Range (as tested), Long Range and GT, and five colour options that span across Aurora Green, Glacier Blue, Mars Red, Sun Black and Hamilton White.

Step inside and you're greeted with a surprisingly spacious cabin that's equal parts retro, stylish and functional. The leatherette seats are comfortable and supportive, with plenty of headroom and legroom for even the tallest of drivers. And with no major central tunnel to contend with, there’s a surprising amount of room in the rear too. The boot space is slightly compromised (after all, dimensionally the Ora is only 4.24m long), but there’s still room enough for a weekly shop and more.

Overall, the build quality is really good, emphasised by the fact that the doors close with a confident thud. The leatherette steering wheel feels good in the hand and even the door cards come with a contrast stitching, and there’s a sense of serenity too, with the infotainment screen showcasing Koi carp upon entry. The font and type is on the small side so those with astigmatism, keep those glasses handy.

The technology is uncluttered and easy to read, with two large touchscreen displays (a 10.25-inch instrument cluster plus a 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen) that when off, join as one expansive panel that sits atop a very tactile and contrast-stitched dash.

Both displays come loaded with all the bells and whistles you'd expect from a modern EV, including Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a suite of driver assistance features, with the information, particularly on the instrument cluster, being delivered in a minimalistic fashion on a pure white background.

The AC and heated windscreen buttons are finished in a bright chrome finish, giving the Ora a slick cockpit-style setup, plus little extras like a wireless charging pad.

Along with keyless entry, the Ora has buttonless start; like a Tesla or Volvo EV, it’s ready to go once in the driver’s seat and buckled up, and similarly for exit, remains on until you shut the door and walk away. There is however, a button beside your right knee that will kill the power should you be spending extended time in the cabin and wish to conserve energy.

Then there’s the way GWM Ora performs on the road and in that respect, it’s surprisingly impressive.

Drive selection (D, N, R, P) is handled through a bevelled dial on the centre console and drive modes (Eco, Auto, Normal and Sport) are chosen through a button to the right of the steering wheel - with Sport mode offering a shot-style noise when engaged and adding a turbo-feel boost to the driving experience.

To enhance eco driving, there are three separate regenerative braking modes and the opportunity to ‘one pedal drive’ (all selectable via the screen menu), and you can even set the steering responsiveness to suit. On top of this, the Ora offers an economical driving guidance report that tells you if you're doing your best (or worst) to save energy.

Our test car came with a 41kWh battery, with a range up to 310km (WLTP) on a single charge, while the Ora supporting both AC charging up to 11kW and DC fast charging up to 64kW, offering the ability to get from 10 to 80 per cent charge in a typical lunch break (40 mins).

The front wheels are driven by a single electric motor (126kW/250Nm) and with its instant torque delivery, it’s both zippy and agile. Boasting a 0-100km/h time of 8.3 seconds it makes merging onto the highway or overtaking slower traffic a breeze, and ideal for inner city driving. The steering is nicely weighted and responsive, and the suspension strikes a good balance between comfort and sportiness.

With everything from traffic sign recognition, rear cross-traffic alert and autonomous emergency braking on offer, the Ora’s list of driver and safety aids is comprehensive, but I really enjoyed its adaptive cruise control; it’s not just smart, it's downright intelligent. It displays the surrounding cars/trucks/bikes on screen and also highlights any potential threats ahead and behind in orange - perfect for tricky blind spots.

Last but not least, while you are watching the road, the Ora is watching you, with a special A-pillar mounted camera that registers any lack of driving attention.

I enjoyed the Ora. It's really nippy in sport mode, with plenty of instant torque, it’s compact with a turning circle that is very city-friendly; it’s stylish, comfortable, and packed with tech, and (even the Standard model) has enough range to ensure you’re not anxiously staring at diminishing battery percentage.

Available now, it’s the ideal time to buy a GWM Ora, before the government EV cashback rebate drops from $8625 to $7015 on July 1.

GWM Ora Standard Range
MOTOR: Single motor, front-drive
BATTERY: 45.4kWh (max charge 11kW AC, 64kW DC)
RANGE: 310km
0-100KM/h: 8.3 secs
PRICE: $49,990
Power: 126kW/250Nm


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