DRIVEN | GWM Ora 03 is SA's cheapest electric car
No punches are pulled on the platform formerly known as Twitter.
From vile to amusing, viewpoints are unfiltered. The court of public opinion had various thoughts to express when I shared an image of the Chinese Great Wall Motors (GWM) Ora 03 this week. We had attended the national launch of the fully electric model. Some said it looked like a Mini rip-off, others said it was the Porsche Taycan ordered from the online retailer, Wish.
But there are many reasons the product should be taken seriously. Chief among these is that it is the most affordable of its kind currently on the South African market.
Technically there are even cheaper electric vehicles, such as those sold by local firm Eleksa, which lists a compact bakkie named the Pony for upwards of R380,000. Few buyers would consider such a prospect rationally.
If you are looking for an attainable electric model from a reputable brand with an established dealership network, the charming Ora is worth a look. Pricing kicks off at R686,950 for the basic 300 Super Luxury model.
The 400 Super Luxury goes for R775,950, and R805,950 is what you will pay for the 400 Ultra Luxury. Meanwhile, the 400 GT Ultra Luxury costs R835,950. Included is a seven-year/200,000km vehicle warranty, eight-year/150,000 km warranty on high voltage parts, a seven-year/105,000 km service plan and seven-year/unlimited km roadside assistance. Before we get into the nitty-gritty we should talk about those looks.
It’s hard to deny the cuteness factor of the Ora, with its amalgamation of familiar styling cues from the Porsche 911, contemporary Mini, millennium Volkswagen Beetle and even hints of Nissan Leaf at the rear. Remember that the Nissan Leaf was the first mass-production electric vehicle in the world. Perhaps we should construe the derivative backside as paying homage to the Japanese trendsetter. All models in the Ora 03 range are front-wheel drive, powered by the same 126kW/250Nm permanent magnet synchronous motor. What sets the 300 and 400 derivatives apart are the battery sizes. In the 300 it is the 48kWh lithium-ion phosphate battery.
The unit in the 400 has a 63kWh nickel-manganese cobalt battery. Claimed driving range in the 300 model is 310km on a full battery, with a quoted consumption of 16.7kWh/100 km. In the 400 Super Luxury and Ultra Luxury the range claim is 420km, with a purported electricity consumption of 16.5kWh/100km.
In the 400 GT it is slightly less at 400km, ostensibly due to a state of tune that favours performance. At a public DC charger expect to pay R7.35 per kWh and R5.88kWh at a public AC charger. That means it would cost R463.05 to juice up the 400 using a DC charger or R352.8 for the 300. We will assess the real-world range and charging interactions when we conduct an in-depth evaluation with the vehicle in 2024.
For now, allow us to provide driving impressions based on our launch test from Kyalami, to Hartbeespoort. Getting into the cabin reveals a spacious frontal area since there is no engine or conventional gearbox to encroach on space.
There is no transmission tunnel dividing driver and passenger. Perceived quality is good, with an upmarket veneer complemented by a modern, youthful design. It definitely strikes one as the kind of must-have accessory for the man or woman with social butterfly tendencies. We liked the playful sound effects when switching between driving modes.
Our day was spent with the 400 GT, which is set apart by a more aggressive body kit, swankier alloy wheels and a sportier colour scheme. People certainly took notice, asking questions and looking over the vehicle curiously when we stopped for a break. Around town the Ora excels with its nimble handling and responsive performance. It weighs 1,555kg, according to the manufacturer, which puts it on par with average hatchbacks and crossovers powered by internal combustion engines.
Claimed 0-100km/h acceleration is 8.5 seconds, top speed is just 160km/h, says GWM. On the open road, while the Ora is confident, wind noise intrusion was noted. The suspension also seemed to amplify the coarseness of the back roads leading into North West province. That said, this vehicle is likely to spend most of its time in urban settings rather than munching miles on the freeway.
Specification is generous. All the essentials are covered, including standard semi-autonomous driving functions across the range: adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist as well as traffic-jam assist. Much like the stylish, fashionable hatchbacks mentioned earlier (Mini, Beetle); the Ora 03 is a hugely trendy piece of machinery. Given the keen pricing of the base version, it looks set to further the impetus of electrified motoring in Mzansi. Our energy parastatal just needs to catch up.
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