The GWM Ora Sport looks like the lovechild of a Porsche Panamera and a Volkswagen Beetle – and it could be coming to a road near you.
- Tinted glass roof adds design flair
- Interior feels premium
- The dual-motor variant sounds promising on paper
- Not particularly powerful in single-motor form
- Cabin lacks storage and back seat is small
- Design won’t be to everyone’s tastes
If you feel automotive design has become too monotonous or same-same in recent years, please consider the 2023 GWM Ora Sport, the exception to that rule.
The whacky four-door coupe from China’s Great Wall Motors is certainly no wallflower – with its swooping roof line, pop-up spoiler, unusual audio-visual effects, and all-electric powertrain firmly nudging it left-of-field.
Known as the Lightning Cat overseas, GWM’s Australian arm says the Ora Sport is “under strong consideration” for a local launch, with hopes it will lure both design-focused female buyers and premium electric car shoppers.
For the uninitiated, Ora was founded in 2018 as GWM’s all-electric sub-brand, and the name is apparently an acronym for “open, reliable and alternative”.
In late January 2023, Drive was given the chance to have a tour – and brief test drive – of a left-hand-drive, pre-production GWM Ora Sport model at a top-secret location in Victoria.
Here’s what you need to know.
|Key details||2023 GWM Ora Sport|
|Drivetrain||Single electric motor, FWD
Dual electric motor, AWD
|Power||150kW (single motor)
300kW (dual motor)
|Torque||340Nm (single motor)
680Nm (dual motor)
|Range||555km (single motor, NEDC)
705km (dual motor, NEDC)
How much does the GWM Ora Sport cost in Australia?
There’s no Australian pricing for the GWM Ora Sport yet, but if the model does come Down Under, it’s likely two powertrains will be offered.
A single-motor, front-wheel-drive variant would offer peak outputs of 150kW of power and 340Nm of torque.
Claimed electric range for this single-motor variant is up to 555km on the European NEDC testing cycle, which tends to return more generous range estimates than the stricter WLTP cycle.
Meanwhile, a dual-motor, all-wheel-drive variant is capable of up to 300kW of power, 680Nm of torque and 705km of range, according to the same NEDC cycle.
It’s expected battery options will mirror those of its hatchback sibling, the GWM Ora, with the choice of either a 48kWh standard range and a 63kWh extended range.
The Ora Sport’s sleek body boasts a drag coefficient of just 0.22 (translation: it’s more aerodynamic than your average car) and, thanks to the added benefit of its extra motor, the all-wheel-drive variant is able to sprint from 0–100km/h in just 4.3 seconds.
Despite its luxury design leanings, the Ora Sport will likely have a more budget-friendly price than premium EVs.
When it launched in China in late 2022, the Ora Sport was priced from Chinese Yuan ¥201,200 before subsidies, which translates to roughly AUD$42,746.
What is the GWM Ora Sport like inside?
The GWM Ora Sport is available in four pastel-hued paint colours, including Jade White, Canyon Grey, Amethyst Purple and, as worn by our pre-production test car, a very ’80s shade of Diamond Pink.
The exterior of the car features a number of quirky design accents and party tricks that, while unique, are arguably not to everyone’s taste.
Firstly, the Ora Sport plays a brief jingle when unlocked that’s reminiscent of the Windows start-up note noise for a computer from the early 2000s.
The oval headlights also display a start-up animation while, at the back, a section of the dome-like panoramic sunroof pops up to become a surprise spoiler.
As if the swooping silhouette, flashback paint shades, excessively large glass roof, frameless windows and bulbous bonnet weren’t eye-catching enough, the Ora Sport also wears some potentially divisive wheels.
The 19-inch wheels feature a “cat claw” design that – in this writer’s opinion – is inexplicably icky. But that’s a matter of personal taste, of course.
While its smaller sibling, the GWM Ora hatchback, has a retro-inspired interior, the inside of the Ora Sport is futuristic and minimalist.
A floating, T-shaped centre console provides the focal point and offers limited storage in the form of a lidded storage bin and single cupholder – plus it houses the main controls for the climate system and the button to change the drive mode.
The unibody seats offer heating, cooling and massage function and, in our test car, they were finished in a cream faux leather, with matching faux suede adorning the dash.
Both look fantastic, but the faux leather feels softer and more authentic to the touch than the suede impersonator.
The panoramic glass roof is well tinted to reduce glare in the cabin, and music plays through an 11-speaker Harman Kardon premium sound system.
A small central touchscreen is well positioned at eye level but certainly smaller than screens found in other electric vehicles, although it offers bright, crisp graphics and plays a very sweet, detailed start-up animation of a kitten chasing a goldfish.
That central screen is paired with a driver display consisting of three smaller circular screens, plus a head-up display projected onto the windshield that provides a digital speedometer and lane-keep information to keep you on the right track.
The back seat isn’t overly accommodating for larger adults – the sloped roof cuts into head room and toe room is virtually non-existent, although knee room wasn’t terrible with the seat in my regular driver’s position.
A relatively flat floor also allows for some freedom to move your feet when getting in and out.
There are ISOFIX tether points on the two outboard seats in the second row, plus two air vents at the back of the centre console and two USB ports.
Moving back to the boot, a power tailgate opens up on a cargo area that’s shallow in height but deep enough to squeeze in longer items.
What is the GWM Ora Sport like to drive?
Rather, the car is ready to drive the second you unlock it and get in the driver’s seat with the key.
As in Mercedes-Benz cars, the gearshifter is a stalk on the steering wheel. However, in a nifty nod to safety, the Ora Sport won’t let you shift into drive unless your seatbelt is buckled.
During a brief test lap in the single-motor Ora Sport variant, it became clear that this variant is not for those craving lightning-fast electric performance.
Unlike the warp-speed sensation induced by some of its electric rivals, the Ora Sport is rather moderate in its delivery of power and measured in its acceleration – smoothly but slowly getting itself up to speed.
In short: for a car that looks like it will go fast, the front-wheel-drive Ora Sport is not particularly peppy.
The trade-off is that it’s very palatable to drive, and would likely perform well in stop-start traffic and on straightforward commutes. The one-pedal drive mode is similarly understated, slowing the car gradually rather than dramatically – perfect for people new to electric vehicles.
Hilariously, there are also fake engine noises that are slightly mismatched to the car’s real-life acceleration. Regardless, the unabashed cheesiness might put a smile on your face and the sounds themselves aren’t overly artificial.
Visibility is limited by the sloped rear windshield, but helped by well-sized mirrors and cameras.
The steering feels balanced and matched to the size of the car, with a relatively direct response.
On our very short test loop, which consistently mostly of sealed roads, the Ora Sport maintained its composure and rode well for a car that looks like it would be more comfortable on a marble podium than a four-wheel-drive track.
GWM is still debating whether to bring the Ora Sport to Australia, so there’s no local launch timing as yet.
“The Ora Sport is under consideration for Australia as part of our expansion of hybrid and electric vehicles,” said a GWM Haval spokesperson.
“While it is yet to be confirmed, we are studying it closely for this market.”
Unfortunately, our time with the GWM Ora Sport was brief, leaving plenty to explore, test and discuss.
Stay tuned for details of a potential local launch and let us know what you think of the whacky design in the comments!