GWM Ora Sport quick review: EV newcomer showcases style, value

Tesla technology, sleek design and punchy performance, but at a lower price: that’s part of the sales pitch for the new GWM Ora Sport, which is expected to arrive in Australia in late 2023.

Known overseas as the Ora Lightning Cat, the low-seated four-door will be called the GWM Ora Sport in Australia and will sit alongside the regular GWM Ora.

While GWM Australia has yet to confirm the arrival of the four-door hatch, which has some Porsche-inspired design cues, it’s clear the company is serious about its intentions.

GWM Ora Sport
GWM Ora Sport

“In terms of the price we think we’re going to achieve, it’s probably a segment break in a way,” says Steve Maciver, Marketing and Communications Manager at GWM Australia.

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Describing it as a sports sedan, he says it will underperform models like the Telsa Model 3 and Polestar 2 and have top-of-the-line driver-assistance technology.

Best guesses are that prices for the single-engine, front-wheel drive version will start at under $60,000. There will also be a twin-engine version, increasing peak power to 300 kW and 680 Nm, enough to propel the sleek four-door to 100 km/h in 4.3 seconds.

GWM Ora Sport
GWM Ora Sport

We got our first taste of the Ora Sport during a short drive at a proving ground in Victoria.

The only left-hand drive car in the country is the one we get short steering from. It’s a single-engine model with 150W and 340Nm and an impressively smooth drag coefficient of 0.22.

As with a Porsche Taycan, there are charging ports on both bull bars; One side charges with AC only, the other with both AC and DC.

There’s also no shortage of bold design touches that make their way into the cabin too.

Windows dispense with frames for a coupe-like touch. A trio of dials takes pride of place on the floating center console. And digital displays are housed in three circular covers.

GWM Ora Sport
GWM Ora Sport

There’s perforated leather, race-like bucket seats with fixed headrests up front, and plenty of silver finishes that go well together. The Ora sub-brand exclamation mark logo is placed in the center of the steering wheel.

As the exterior suggests, the Ora Sport is less of a family hauler and more sporty to drive. Those in the rear will find headroom that’s best suited to those of short stature. A high floor loaded with batteries has legs higher than usual. The boot is relatively flat and has a small opening.

Like a Tesla, the Ora Sport detects when someone with a key is in the driver’s seat and primes the car for progress without the need to press buttons or insert a key in a slot. There’s also a panoramic sunroof with a crossbar through the roof center and flush door handles.

Strikingly styled 19-inch wheels are wrapped in Michelin Sport rubber.

Our ride is short and limited to one proving ground, but it’s enough to get a taste test of the upcoming newcomer.

Performance is EV respectable, although entry-level rivals should match, partly because the body weighs well over two tons. It doesn’t have the hit off the line that most EVs give you. Instead, it builds thrust as if almost mimicking an ICE, with more linearity and intensity as speed increases.

The most interesting element is the fake engine sound. Take off and there’s an ICE rumble, complete with mock gear changes. It’s certainly a novelty, although we assume we’d turn it off after a few launches.

Steering is light and grip levels seem decent. Our brief experience with the brakes suggested there was strongly supported, to the point where the ABS can be triggered if you get too enthusiastic. The suspension can tilt when pushed, the first sign that these looks may not match dynamic nous.

Still, there’s enough substance elsewhere to make the GWM Ora Sport an interesting addition for the lower end of the EV market.

GWM Ora Sport
GWM Ora Sport

As a single engine, it’s unlikely to disrupt the status quo in a market segment currently dominated by the Tesla Model 3.

The numbers accompanying the twin engine suggest it will be a far more exciting machine.

Either way, the Ora Sport’s appeal could be down to its design and value.

GWM Ora Sport single engine specifications

Price: Less than $60,000 (estimated)

Basics: EV, 5 seats, 5 doors, hatchback, FWD

Range: 555 km (NEDC)

Battery capacity: 64 kWh

Battery Warranty: TBA

Energy consumption: TBA

Engines: 1 front 150kW/340Nm

AC charging: TBA

DC charging: TBA

0-100 km/h: Not applicable

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