A number of reasonably priced electric runabouts have arrived this year, delivering more choice for buyers looking to make the switch to EVs.
The GWM Ora stands out from the crowd with its retro styling and eye-catching paint choices.
The Ora range starts at about $42,500 drive-away for the standard range model with 310km of range. It costs roughly $6000 extra for the extended range model, which has a claimed 420km of range courtesy of a larger battery, but no extra power. Another $3000 buys the better equipped Ultra, while the top of the range GT is roughly $55,000. Even in its cheapest guise, the Ora is well equipped. The imitation leather front seats are electrically adjustable, there are twin 10.25-inch screens for the infotainment and vehicle information and there’s a wireless smartphone charger. Apple CarPlay is standard and there are USB ports in the front and rear. Before the end of 2023, or while stocks last, GWM is throwing in a home charger worth $1690 to sweeten the deal. Installation costs extra. The Ora has an above average warranty of seven years, with five years of roadside assistance. The five-year capped price service program is exceptionally cheap at just $495.
The Ora is more spacious than its external dimensions suggest. There’s decent headroom in the front and the electrically adjustable, imitation leather seats have a good range of movement to accommodate most body types. Most of the controls are easy to work, although it feels counterintuitive to access the screen via toggle switches on the dash. The wireless recharging pad is handy but the Apple CarPlay interface proved glitchy on our test. Rear passengers have decent leg and head room courtesy of the flat rear floor, although there are no rear air vents. The extra leg room in the rear appears to have come at the expense of the luggage area, which is small. The suspension is at the softer end of the spectrum, which means a comfy ride around town. On the freeway, it’s a stress-free experience devoid of the constant engine drone of a similar-sized petrol vehicle.
The Ora has a comprehensive array of driver aids – some useful, others intrusive and annoying. The lane-keeping, blind-spot monitoring and radar cruise all work fairly seamlessly but the forward collision warning is oversensitive and the “intelligent cornering control” is frustrating, slowing the car by up to 10km/h on a slow, easy bend that an L-plater could take at full speed. Thankfully, the safety aids can be turned off. On the positive side, the Ora is one of few vehicles at this price that has rear and front cross-traffic alert, as well as traffic sign recognition and drowsiness detection. It achieved five stars in independent crash testing, with an impressive 92 per cent score for adult occupant protection and 93 per cent for safety assist.
ON THE ROAD
The Ora is a bit of a mixed bag on the road. The front-mounted motor makes a modest 126kW and 250Nm but even those outputs are enough to induce wheel spin if you’re too keen with the accelerator pedal. The 0-100km/h time of 8.4 seconds is reasonable, though, and it still feels suitably nippy for darting in and out of traffic. It feels reasonably relaxed at freeway speeds but the soft suspension struggles to keep things in check if the going gets bumpy. It also tends to lean through corners and chirp the tyres with minimal provocation. As a city car, it’s more than adequate, though. The Ora can be charged at up to 80kW on a fast charger, which means the long range version will take 50 minutes to charge from 10 to 80 per cent.
MG 4 Essence 64, from about $49,700 drive-away. Slightly more range and a little more power. Rear-drive setup delivers more confident road holding.
BYD Dolphin Premium, about $46,000 drive-away. Similar range but more power and torque for brisker acceleration. Well equipped cabin.
Cupra Born, from $62,490 drive-away. Significantly more expensive but great to drive, with more range and a classy cabin.
GWM Ora extended range
PRICE About $48,800 drive-away
ENGINE Single front motor, 126kW/250Nm
WARRANTY/SERVICING Seven years/unlimited km, $495 for five years
SAFETY Seven airbags, auto emergency braking, lane-departure and blind-spot assist, front and rear cross-traffic alert, radar cruise, fatigue detection
SPARE Tyre repair kit
LUGGAGE 228 litres
Three and a half stars
Attractively designed inside and out, with a sharp price and reasonable driving manners for a city runabout.