2023 GWM Ora Standard Range Review
Price & Equipment:9
Performance & Range:8
Ride & Handling:7.5
Interior & Practicality:8
Service & Warranty:9
What we like:
  • Interesting and distinctive to look at
  • Beautifully crafted interior with decent quality
  • It's a great value, affordable EV for the masses!
What we don't like:
  • No Android Auto
  • The usual weird GWM infotainment quirks
  • Single pedal driving mode is inconsitent
8.3DiscoverAuto Rating:

With the EV landscape heating up more and more each day in Australia with new offerings from both established and newcomer brands, it’s safe to say EVs are continuing their push towards ever growing acceptance by the masses. Enter the very cute looking 2023 GWM Ora, which is not only one of the most polarising looking cars on sale now, but also one of the cheapest EVs on sale. We tested the entry level 2023 GWM Ora Standard Range to see whether GWM has been successful in showing the way forward towards e-mobility in Australia.

Make no mistake, cute and cuddly looking the Ora might be, but this an incredibly important electric vehicle, not just for GWM, but for the affordable electric vehicle segment in Australia. Sneaking in at just under the $40,000 mark, the Ora promises to be the perfect vehicle for those seeking to move the move to an electric vehicle, without having to dig deep into their pockets. The Ora’s design is both oddly futuristic and retro inspired at the same time, from its fish scale details on the front bumper, to the bulbous front headlights and LED taillights hidden in the rear glass, the Ora certainly promises owners much more than just a boring electric vehicle design wise. Are the Ora’s charms and keen pricing worth it for those wanting to jump into an electric vehicle for the first time? Let’s find out.

Price & Equipment: 9/10

Priced from $39,990 plus on-road costs (drive away pricing ranges from $40,606 in the ACT to $42,927 in Western Australia, before any state-based EV incentives), standard equipment on the 2023 GWM Ora Standard Range includes 18-inch alloy wheels, dusk-sensing automatic LED exterior lighting, leatherette upholstery, a six-way electric driver’s seat, a leather steering wheel, single-zone climate control, a four-way electric front passenger seat, a 10.25-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, but no Android Auto oddly, a six-speaker sound system, wireless phone charging, front and rear USB charging ports, a 10.25-inch digital driver’s display, heated and auto-folding mirrors, keyless entry and start and an auto-dimming rear mirror.

Safety equipment includes seven airbags, auto emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian and cyclist detection, low-speed rear auto braking, adaptive cruise control with stop and go functionality, lane keeping assistance with lane trace assist, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, driver attention monitoring, auto high beam, an alarm, rear collision warning, rear parking sensors and a 360-degree parking camera. The Ora range was awarded five-star ANCAP safety rating in 2022.

Colour options for the Ora include the no-cost ‘Hamilton White’ on our test car, as well as the $595-extra ‘Mars Red’, ‘Glacier Blue’, ‘Sun Black’ and ‘Aurora Green’. The red, blue and green options include a black roof, while the black option includes a white roof.

There are two main rivals to the GWM Ora Standard Range: the BYD Dolphin Dynamic ($38,90 +ORC or around $40,500 drive away before state-based incentives) and the MG 4 Excite 51 ($38,990 +ORC or around $41,000 drive away). Both the Ora Standard Range and MG 4 Excite 51 are beaten for standard equipment by the Dolphin Dynamic as it adds features like larger 18-inch alloy wheels, satellite navigation on a larger 12.8-inch centre screen, a panoramic glass roof and heated front seats. It largely matches the Dolphin for safety equipment, while offering more than the MG 4 Elite 51 with features like a centre airbag, a 360-degree camera, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and automatic rear braking.

Performance & Range: 8/10

The 2023 GWM Ora is powered by a from a front-mounted electric motor making 126kW of power and 250Nm of torque. In the Ora lineup two battery packs are offered. The Standard Range we tested here gets a 48kWh lithium-ion unit with a claimed range of 320km on the WLTP test. The Extended Range comes with a larger 63kWh capacity battery capable of up to 420km on the same test.

While electric vehicles are well known for their instant torque and shove, the Ora is a far cry from the neck-breaking acceleration and shove of more powerful electric vehicles. Setting off from the lights, the Ora builds speed very smoothly and almost silently, with enough to go make most buyers happy. Sure, it’s very likely one of the slowest EVs on the block, but it has just enough punch to spin the front tyres, if you’re not careful. We managed a 0-100km/h sprint time of around 8.5 seconds.

Sadly, GWM has given the Ora a rather doughy throttle response, with so much lag it almost defies belief for an electric vehicle. Perhaps the Chinese brand has built the lag in to not overwhelm the front tyres when putting power down. Still, we wish the GWM Ora were rear-wheel drive, like an MG4.

One-pedal driving has to be one of my favourite features of driving an electric vehicle, but the Ora sure makes things interesting in this department. Not only is the one-pedal mode notoriously hard to enable, but the setting offers nowhere near the level braking needed when lifting off the accelerator. Sometimes the Ora brakes moderately, sometimes not at all. This really doesn’t inspire any confidence in the Ora and ultimately spoils the one-pedal driving party.

Using a DC fast charger, the Ora will take on electricity at a rate of 80kW, for a 10-80 per cent recharge in 41 minutes for the Standard Range battery. Home charging on an 11kW three-phase charger will take six hours and 30 minutes for a full charge, and a 240-volt wall plug will leave owners charging for 30 hours. 

During our week with the GWM Ora, we saw a claimed consumption figure of around 15kWh per 100km, which equates to a range around the 320km mark. Bang on what GWM says the Ora will do. Just bear in mind the Ora will use more energy when the heating and cooling are in use, or at higher freeway speeds.

A BYD Dolphin is much slower than the GWM Ora with only a small motor pumping out 70kW/180Nm giving it a 12.3 second 0-100km/h sprint time. Its 44.9kWh BYD Blade battery gives it a longer 340km of range but it’s hampered by a slower 60kW max charge rate on a DC fast charger.

The MG4 Excite 51 comes with a 125kW/250Nm motor, good for a rather brisk 7.7 second 0-100km/h sprint time. It comes with 51kWh lithium-ion battery, giving it a an impressive claimed 350km range. The MG$ also beats its other two rivals with an 88kW max DC fast charger charge rate.

Ride & Handling: 7.5/10

The 2023 GWM Ora Standard Range really impressed us with the way it drove, thanks to a hunkered down, yet fluid feel reminiscent of the Volkswagen Golf, of all cars. As a city car, it feels firmly planted to the road, with a relatively plush and comfortable ride. Sure, the Ora isn’t the most cossetting car in the world, but it behaves well-enough around town and it doesn’t crash harshly over speed bumps or potholes. It lends a solid impression and hides its 1,540kg kerb weight better than you might expect.

Show the Ora a set of corners and you’ll notice the vague and slow steering doesn’t really connect the driver’s hands to the front 215/50 R18 Gitisport tyres. The steering is otherwise super light around town, making parking easy. Nonetheless, the GWM Ora doesn’t roll too much through corners, has enough grip and while it may not be as good to drive as a Kia EV6, we think it’ll be fine enough for most punters.

Luckily, the GWM Ora has a quiet and serene driving experience, with very little road and wind noise entering the cabin at speed. Being a hatch, the GWM Ora has nice big windows all round which really aid visibility, while the 360-degree camera gives a great perspective of the car while parking. The driver assistance tech works really well from our testing, luckily. The driver monitoring doesn’t feel as “big-brother” as before even if the lane assist can feel a little overzealous still. We have to say, the GWM Ora is the best Chinese car so far, in terms of its driver assist technology.

Interior & Practicality: 8/10

We came away really impressed with the Ora’s interior, as the it truly exudes an almost premium feel that could easily shame other small cars. We’ll go ahead and say it – we’d rather spend time in the interior of the Ora, than say in a Toyota Corolla. The interior looks cool, and what’s more, has bags of showroom appeal and some real quality, too. Stepping into the Ora will have many looking for a start button, or indeed any way to start the car. As my partner found out, the Ora is simply always on, as long as the key is inside. Hopping in and selecting a gear is all it takes to start driving. Inserting car keys into the dash, or even pushing on/off buttons is so yesteryear.

Add in a dash of chrome switches on the dash and some crisp screens, the Ora’s interior truly feels much more special than it has any right to be at this price point. Same goes of space up front, where both the driver and passenger are greeted with quite a large of expanse of room. There’s a wide centre console featuring an inbuilt wireless smartphone charger, along with plenty of space for cups, small objects and phones further below, along with a second wireless smartphone charger.

Front occupants are greeted with some rather premium looking and nicely trimmed artificial leather and suede seats with contrasting blue stitching. They might not be the most supportive seats in the world, as they lack quite a lot of thigh support, but they do the job otherwise very nicely. The driving position is pretty decent too, with the steering wheel providing loads of adjustment both up and down, and in and out. Unlike some EVs where occupants can feel like they’re sitting on their seats, rather than in them, the Ora offers a sufficiently low-slung driving position even for taller drivers.

Frustratingly, the infotainment and the way drivers interact with the Ora’s onboard tech is still a mixed bag. Beautifully crisp and clear the dual 10.5-inch screens might be up front, but their software and user interface leave a lot to be desired. While we’re glad to see a shortcut switch on the dash to head directly to the climate controls, much like in a Volkswagen Golf, some of the other settings are buried so deep in the menus, they might as well be impossible to find.

Changing the level of regenerative braking should be an easy affair in an electric vehicle, not so in the Ora. We counted a total of 5 buttons prods to select the level we wanted. Compare that to pulling a shift paddle once, in a Hyundai Ioniq5. Still, we’re glad to see GWM slowly getting better at things on this front, with a more natural user interface than in say, a Haval H6 which features almost no shortcut buttons and an even more bewildering user experience.

While we were able to use the wireless Apple CarPlay without any issues, Android Auto didn’t seem to work at all sadly. As an Android phone user myself, I had to put up without any navigation assistance during my week with the Ora. Not ideal.

Jumping into the rear reveals a rather roomy place to spend time in. With decent headroom, enough legroom for adults to sit behind adults and a nicely angled and well-padded backrest and seat cushion, those in the rear of the Ora shouldn’t protest too much, especially with the centre rear armrest down. The doors open nice and wide too, allowing child seats to be installed with ease. We do wish rear air vents were part of the rear seat package too, as they’d improve what is an already well equipped and nicely packaged small car.

Heading further back into the boot unfortunately reveals a bit of a problem – the GWM Ora’s rather apparent lack of boot space. Claimed boot space is 228-litres, expanding to 858L with the rear seats folded. This isn’t amazing and frankly, a lot less than we would have expected from a small hatch. Add a high loading lip, to account for that funky rear design and the Ora misses the mark a little on practicality. There’s also no spare tyre underneath the boot floor, and no real practical touches in the boot, either.

Service & Warranty: 9/10

Like other GWM products, the 2023 GWM Ora Standard Range is equipped with a seven-year/unlimited km warranty with five years of roadside assistance, plus an eight-year/unlimited km for the battery. The Ora’s service intervals are once-yearly/every 15,000km (whichever comes first) and each service costs just $99, which totals just $495 for the first five years/75,000km of servicing.

MG also features a seven-year/unlimited km warranty, while BYD covers its cars with a six-year/150,000km warranty – the MG’s battery warranty matches the standard warranty, while BYD’s is an eight-year/160,000km piece. The Dolphin and MG 4 also offer differing service intervals: the BYD’s is once-yearly/every 20,000km, while the MG’s interval is once every two years or every 40,000km, whichever comes first. Six years of servicing the BYD Dolphin costs $1,754 ($292 per year), while the same time and distance for the MG 4 costs $1,478 ($246 per year) – both a lot more than the GWM Ora.

2023 GWM Ora Standard Range DiscoverAuto Rating: 8.3/10

We came away really impressed with the 2023 GWM Ora Standard Range. As one of Australia’s cheapest electric vehicles on the market, we weren’t expecting much from the oddball shaped Ora, but it blew us away with its cabin design and execution, as well as how complete it felt. Sure, it’s far from perfection and the styling might not be to everyone’s tastes, but the GWM Ora proves that electric vehicles are starting to become attainable and good value for money for the masses.

GWM has built a truly competitive offering and priced it well. Whether the 2023 GWM Ora Standard Range has what it takes to beat the MG 4 is another question, however. But with competition heating up at the bottom end of the market, ultimately it’s buyer that will end up winning with quality and affordable electric vehicle offerings. If you’re a fan of the looks, and want to take your first steps into the electric vehicle world, the GWM Ora might just be the car for you.

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