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Tess looks a little ancient next to the new Cat on the block. Photo by Majella Waterworth.


Great Wall ORA Test Drive

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Although Great Wall Motor has marketed a whole litter of “Cats” in China (Good, Black, White, and IQ), Australia is only receiving one version. It will be marketed as the GWM ORA. I hope that the other versions will make it here eventually. In the meantime, we went for a Great Wall ORA test drive!

Majella loves the retro finish and feel of the GWM ORA Cat. Photo by David Waterworth.

The GMW ORA (aka Ora Good Cat or Haomao in China) was first revealed at the Chengdu Auto Show in July 2020. The style was described as a retro aesthetic by former Porsche designer Emanuel Derta. (Hence the Beetle like shape.) The Ora Cat has been on sale in China since November 2020 and in Thailand since October 2021, with the vehicles being imported from China. GWM started marketing the vehicle in the European market in 2022 as the Funky Cat. GMW has likely sold over 200,000 Ora Cats/ORAs since their release.

After sitting in the new ORA at the Noosa Electric Vehicle Expo, it was great to visit the GWM dealership in North Lakes, Brisbane, yesterday and quiz the enthusiastic sales rep, Damon, before taking the car on the road. Majella played with all the buttons and knobs and admired the retro finish again. I just wanted to take it up the highway and do a launch.

Tess looks a little ancient next to the new Cat on the block. Photo by Majella Waterworth.

We both got our wishes — except now she wants to buy one, if they can get in a red one (for an extra AU$595). All ORAs have a black roof, with the car color replicated in the interior highlights.

I was surprised that the dealership had not yet installed any charging infrastructure, but Damon assured me that it was coming. He was pleased that in the first week of the car sitting in front of the business, 10–15 curious would-be buyers had checked it out and availed themselves of a test drive. The ORA sat there surrounded by Haval (another GWM sub-brand), including some HEVs, and a lone “Tank.” GWM has done well with the Haval SUV — its sales put it in the top ten. This augers well for the acceptance of the ORA.

One ORA and many GWM Havals — soon to be reversed? Photo by David Waterworth.

Mainstream advertising is in the planning stages. Delivery times are at around 8 weeks right now. We could be seeing a lot of these on the road in Queensland by the end of the year, especially with that world beating price — AU$46,000, less the government rebate of $6,000. (Apply for the rebate here.)

As part of the market launch, the dealership principal (DP) was invited to China to be part of the global export celebrations. Village Motors is the #1 GWM dealer for Australia. The DP then trained staff with basic details. Damon has done a lot of his own research using YouTube and reviews of the ORA from around the world. GWM has provided training videos, and it issues regular bulletins to salespeople.

The ORA is accessed using a key fob and has a lot of the same bells and whistles as our Tesla Model 3, including USB ports and wireless phone charging. We were exploring the extended-range version, which offers an extra 100 km of range for a further $4,000. We felt that the base model with 400 km of range would meet our needs easily. The ORA accesses satellite navigation through the owners’ mobile phone, using Apple CarPlay or Android and displays on the screen to the driver’s left. A screen directly behind the steering wheel shows the driving data.

Intelligent lights. Photo by Majella Waterworth.

We were pleasantly surprised to find features not on our Tesla Model 3, like the intelligent lights which can follow the curve of the road and vary in intensity as needed and the 360-degree camera. The ORA is fitted with privacy glass and can be further tinted if necessary. The ORA can receive software updates at the dealership during regular services. The driver monitoring camera keeps an eye out for an inattentive driver but does not record. And yes, Damon has been asked that question by those who are suspicious of the car’s Chinese origins.

The ORA comes with a 7-year unlimited warranty on the vehicle and an 8-year warranty on the battery and drivetrain.

Many of the customers who Damon has taken for a test drive have not owned an EV before. After seeing the car on the internet, they were keen to see it in person and take it for a drive.

It was ladies first as Majella took the wheel and drove the ORA out of the dealer’s yard with an almost out-this-world sound. The car made the sound, that is. The seats were comfortable and the luxurious suede steering wheel tactile. The right-hand screen highlighted red as you powered off and green as you went into regen. The turning circle appeared to be better than that of our Model 3, though the acceleration was not. The blinkers were on the same side as they are on our Tess. It was a little difficult to find the adaptive cruise control (behind the steering wheel). Lane keeping was available, but not the same as the self-steer of the Tesla.

Doing a launch out of the lights blew away the ICE competition. Not as powerful as the Tesla, but, hey, it’s at a more affordable price. Regen appeared to be a bit soft, even when Damon put the setting on “one pedal driving.” I found myself reaching for the brakes with my right foot. The left screen was easy to use to set the driver profile, to listen to the radio and answer the phone.

Charger, tyre pump, and tools stored securely in the boot. Photo by Majella Waterworth.

I took it out on the highway. The ORA had plenty of get-up and went, responding to the driver’s demands. There was no problem getting up to speed to get out into the motorway traffic. Activating the blinker showed you all around the car — 360 degrees. This was augmented by the blind spot warning on the wing mirrors. Around suburban streets and corners, the ORA did not sit as heavily on the road as I am used to — I often compare driving the Tesla to the experience I had in ’70s with my Mini Cooper S.

Overall, Majella tells me that this car made her feel like a princess. But at this point, I am not inclined to be her prince and buy the ORA for her. Tess will have to do for now.

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Written By

David Waterworth is a retired teacher who divides his time between looking after his grandchildren and trying to make sure they have a planet to live on. He is long on Tesla [NASDAQ:TSLA].


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