2023 GWM Ora Standard Range video review

GWM’s first electric vehicle stands out with funky styling, and hits the value end of the market, but is the GWM Ora a good car?

2023 GWM Ora Standard Range

Australia, you've been asking for cheaper electric vehicles, and now not one but three brands have answered the call with models that start below $40,000 before on-road costs.

You can pick from the new MG 4, the BYD Dolphin, and the 2023 GWM Ora that I’m testing here. The short-range, low-spec versions of all three have sub-forty grand starting prices – the Ora actually being the most expensive at $39,990 plus on-road costs.

That pricing puts it within reach of more conventional small hatchbacks like the Toyota Corolla and Hyundai i30 – but can the Ora match those top-sellers for features and practicality?

There's only one way to find out. Let’s take a look at the GWM Ora and find out if this electric hatchback is any good.

How much does the GWM Ora cost in Australia?

In case you were wondering, Ora stands for Open, Reliable, and Alternative, and is yet another sub-brand sold by China’s Great Wall Motors alongside its Haval SUV, Tank off-road, and Ute commercial divisions.

Regardless of which Ora variant you choose, all are equipped with a 126kW and 250Nm electric motor driving the front wheels.

Despite launching with a price $4000 above the others, the Ora’s current $39,990 plus on-road costs pricing has been shifted closer to its key rivals without changing key equipment – which includes a 48 kilowatt-hour battery, giving it a claimed range of 310 kilometres. More expensive variants come with a higher-capacity 63kWh battery for up to 420km of range.

Drive-away pricing varies by state. Expect to pay $40K–$43K on the road depending on where you live – that's before any state-based EV incentives that may lower the price.

Rather than being a stripped-out base model to meet a low price point, the Ora Standard Range offers a decent list of standard equipment. Externally, you get 18-inch alloy wheels, two-tone paint (with metallic finishes costing $595 extra), LED head- and tail-lights, rear privacy glass, heated power-folding mirrors plus keyless entry with hands-free ‘smart start’.

On the inside, you get power-adjustable driver and passenger seats. The interior trim is a decent-looking faux leather and suede, there are dual 10.25-inch displays for instruments and infotainment, there’s smartphone mirroring with wireless Apple CarPlay, six-speaker audio with DTS digital processing, single-zone climate control, and a full suite of advanced driver assist systems.

At first glance, it looks like no corners have been cut to make the GWM Ora big on value rather than simply low on price.

Key details2023 GWM Ora Standard Range
Price$39,990 plus on-road costs
Colour of test carGlacier Blue/Black roof
OptionsMetallic paint – $595
Price as tested$40,585 plus on-road costs
Drive-away price$42,566 (Vic, before options)
RivalsBYD Dolphin | MG 4 | Toyota Corolla Hybrid

How much space does the GWM Ora have inside?

Slightly odd dimensions give the GWM Ora a somewhat unusual stance, which is to the benefit of interior space. The roof is quite high – at 1603mm, making it just 17mm lower than small SUVs like the Toyota Corolla Cross and Honda ZR-V, and 99mm taller than an MG 4 and 168mm taller than a Corolla.

That extra height pays dividends inside, with clear headroom in both the first and second row of seats – although the rounded rear door aperture means you have to duck when getting out to avoid clashing with the C-pillar.

The front seats feel small. I’m 169cm tall, so hardly first pick for the Boomers, and even I noticed that the front seat bases fell short on under-thigh support.

That’s not to say they were uncomfortable, in fact far from it. There’s no lumbar support on the driver’s seat and yet – for me at least – the smaller-scale seat fitted right in the first place, so it didn’t particularly feel like it was lacking.

Somewhat unusually, both front seats feature power adjustment, something not commonly seen in the small car segment. Ora has opted for a generous level of standard equipment to help cover its relatively high price (compared to combustion engine hatchbacks). While the seats look like leather and suede in pictures, these are imitation products – especially the suede-look trim that is textured vinyl and lacks any kind of pile or nap.

Into the rear seats, and the small-seat-big-space theme continues. There’s a little less under-thigh support than might be ideal, but there’s a heap of headroom and legroom. Space under the front seats to slide your feet into is limited and width is narrow for three across, but otherwise it’s a spacious place to be.

The rear seats go without ventilation through the console, and there’s only one USB-A port in the rear and two up front. The Ora does feature a fold-down armrest – something the rival MG 4 can’t boast.

Single zone-climate control is standard. To get seat heating and ventilation, seat massage, a sunroof, and a heated steering wheel, you’ll need to step up to the more expensive Ora Ultra (from a significantly more expensive $48,990 plus on-road costs – in concert with the Long Range battery).

The interior is minimalist when it comes to buttons and dials, with everything accessed through the touchscreen – apart from front and rear demist, AC, and the on-off master switch.

The console offers both a high centre armrest and narrow storage, plus deep lower storage and a pair of floor-level cupholders. While the floor space looks like a wireless charger, it’s not. Instead, the charging pad can be found partially tucked under the armrest behind the rotary gear selector.

The black interior with blue stitching is bundled with all exterior colours apart from Aurora Green, which instead comes with a retro-inspired two-tone turquoise and cream interior.

At the rear there’s a compact 228L of cargo space, putting it toward the smaller end of the small-car scale. The boot itself is deep but has a high load lip and side protrusions that eat into space slightly. There’s a bag hook on each side of the boot, but they’re hard to reach and fiddly to use.

With the rear seats folded (which is easy to do from the boot) there’s a step up to the seat backs, and no adjustable floor to make things level. This opens up 858L of storage space. Under the floor there’s no spare tyre, only a puncture repair kit – yet without the foam inserts it looks like there would be room to accommodate a space saver, but for whatever reason GWM has opted not to fit one.

2023 GWM Ora Standard Range
Boot volume228L seats up
858L seats folded

Does the GWM Ora have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto?

In a very Mercedes-Benz-esque dual-screen instrument panel, the GWM Ora houses a pair of 10.25-inch displays for infotainment and instruments.

The infotainment display accesses both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, the latter via wired and wireless connections. There’s Bluetooth and AM/FM radio built-in, but no navigation or digital radio.

Graphics are decent without being super crisp or high-resolution, and there’s some lag switching between functions, hinting at a lack of processor grunt in the background.

The six-speaker audio system punches well above its weight and sounds quite impressive with strong, thumping bass and clear audio reproduction thanks to included DTS audio processing.

Unfortunately, the experience wasn’t all roses. On two separate occasions, the infotainment screen went black. Once for two minutes after start-up, another time midway through a drive with about 10 minutes of no access to the screen and no way to get it to wake up. It did eventually come back of its own accord.

This may seem like a small glitch but is a major frustration, because there’s no other way to access all of the vehicle’s drive settings and functions.

Another frustration worth mentioning is that the row of climate-control shortcuts within the Ora’s native operating system disappear when CarPlay is connected.

It’s possible to set up a shortcut button on the steering wheel to jump to the climate, but it would be simpler to have the shortcut row always accessible. That shortcut menu allows you to jump in and alter brake regeneration, check charger settings, or alter safety system sensitivity – and some buyers may never touch these, but if you’re a tinkerer (or like me, you just like to switch the ventilation to recirculate when following other traffic) then you’ll see how vital those shortcuts are.

With clunky menu layouts, a home screen interface that looks a little bit like an old Windows CE device, and sometimes confusing naming for vehicle functions, the Ora’s isn’t the most approachable infotainment platform – although it feels like it’s just a software update or two away from being quite serviceable.

Any potential updates won’t simply push to the vehicle, however, with no over-the-air updates or connected vehicle functions offered on any model in the GWM range in Australia, including the Ora.

Is the GWM Ora a safe car?

The Ora’s safety credentials and crash performance have earned it a five-star safety rating from ANCAP, Australia and New Zealand’s new car safety assessment body.

The GWM Ora scored a 92 per cent adult occupant protection rating, an 84 per cent child occupant protection rating, a 74 per cent rating for vulnerable road user (pedestrian and cyclist) protection, and an impressive 93 per cent for its safety assist systems.

2023 GWM Ora Standard Range
ANCAP ratingFive stars (tested 2022)
Safety reportLink to ANCAP report

What safety technology does the GWM Ora have?

All Ora grades come with seven airbags, including one between front seat occupants to reduce the risk of a head-clash injury from a side impact, forward autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian, cyclist, and intersection detection, rear AEB, rear cross-traffic alert, lane assists including departure warning, keeping assist, and lane centring, blind-spot monitoring with lane-change assist, and speed sign recognition.

That’s really just the tip of the iceberg, though, because the safety roll call goes on with door open warning (to warn against opening the door into a passing vehicle or cyclist), driver drowsiness detection via camera monitoring, adaptive cruise control with ‘smart’ cruise incorporating lane assist, traffic jam assist, tyre pressure monitoring, a 360-degree camera system, high-beam assist, and more.

The missing element in all of this – weirdly – is front park sensors. This means that as you approach an object you need to manually activate the parking cameras. It’s possible to set this to one of the two customisable steering wheel buttons, but it is a function that would normally be automated.

The Ora’s safety suite works convincingly in most situations, and the driver’s display shows that the vehicle can not only detect surrounding traffic, but also the type of road, lane markings, and road edges. Features like lane keeping tended to work well, although from time to time the car would awkwardly grab at the steering wheel a fair way out from the lane marker.

No false warning or AEB grabs presented themselves on test, but the slow-down through the cruise control in light corners is heavy-handed. Most safety systems have configurable settings and sensitivity, making it easy to get the warnings and assistance you want without distraction or annoyance.

How much does the GWM Ora cost to maintain?

On the ownership front, the Ora comes with a seven-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty for private buyers. Vehicles used commercially (as a rideshare or delivery vehicle, for instance) carry a 150,000km limit. Capped-price servicing is available for the first five years at just $99 per service – every 12 months or 15,000km.

Insurance for the Ora Standard Range quotes at $1836 per year based on a comparative quote for a 35-year-old male driver living in Chatswood, NSW. Insurance estimates may vary based on your location, driving history, and personal circumstances.

At a glance2023 GWM Ora Standard Range
WarrantySeven years, unlimited km
Service intervals12 months or 15,000km
Servicing costs$297 (3 years)
$495 (5 years)

Is the GWM Ora energy-efficient?

The GWM Ora carries an official energy consumption rating of 14.0 kilowatt hours per 100km, putting it ahead of the official rating of the Nissan Leaf (17.1kWh/100km), and the MG 4 Excite 51 (14.5kWh/100km). The claimed driving range is 310km on a single charge, and when unplugged from a full charge, the Ora indicated it could cover 300km.

In real-world conditions, with the air con running and ambient temperatures from the mid-teens to the low 20s mark, I was able to cover 270km on a single charge. In freeway-only running consumption rose to 15.7kWh/100km, but in city and suburban running consumption settled down to 14.5kWh/100km.

The Ora offers AC charging up to 11kW, and rapid DC charging is capped at 80kW – quick, but not ultra-fast. Given the battery capacity is only 48kWh, GWM says a 10–80 per cent fast charge should take 41 minutes, and enough to get over 215km of claimed range (more like 189km against our real-world range).

Energy Consumption – brought to you by bp

Energy EfficiencyEnergy Stats
Energy cons. (claimed)14.0kWh/100km
Energy cons. (on test)14.5kWh/100km
Battery size48kWh
Driving range claim (WLTP)310km
Charge time (11kW)5h 30min (claimed 10–80%)
Charge time (50kW)1h 08min (estimated)
Charge time (80kW max rate)41min (claimed 10–80%)

What is the GWM Ora like to drive?

The Ora offers a really enjoyable experience behind the wheel. It’s not the outright quickest accelerating car, nor particularly sporting or sharp, but it is smooth, balanced, and just enough fun to keep it from mediocrity.

Like the premium-looking interior, the on-road experience is mature and well developed. Not something always assured in products that seek to drop the price on what’s typically a more expensive market segment.

Acceleration won’t set any records, but the claimed 8.4-second 0–100km/h sprint feels deceptively quick in the absence of engine noise.

There is a range of set-up options too. The Ora offers Normal, Sport, Eco and Auto drive modes from a button on the dash, plus Eco+ via the touchscreen. There are also three stages of brake regen and a one-pedal drive mode, along with three different steering weight settings.

Let’s break that all down. Sport mode makes the accelerator response more eager, while Eco dulls it right down and Eco+ limits climate control to extend driving range. Normal mode is the happy medium, but even then it feels like it applies some torque-limiting from a standstill to help ensure smooth progress and guard against wheel spin.

The brake regeneration settings are less accomplished, with a moment of coasting after you lift off the pedal before a strong initial regen that then tapers off. It can lead to jerky driving, which is why I opted for light regen.

We experienced some inconsistent behaviour during our time with the car. Sometimes my preferred driving settings were saved, other times the car reverted to strong brake regen. GWM says the car is supposed to revert to strong after being switched off, as the most efficient drive mode, yet this didn’t always happen.

Similarly, the one-pedal mode behaved itself for the most part – like the regen braking, it has a moment of coasting before kicking in. But I discovered that it only activates the brake lights as the vehicle is slowing. Once the car stops the brake lights switch off, which is not an ideal way of communicating to other traffic that you’re at a standstill. Pressing the brake pedal is still required, so not really a true single-pedal mode.

I also found on one drive that, despite selecting one-pedal mode, the car would coast as if the lightest regen mode was engaged. After disengaging and re-engaging one pedal, it refused to play ball, despite showing as activated on the driver’s display.

On another occasion, I experienced a brief moment where the accelerator cut out, moments from entering a T-intersection. While it came back after a couple of seconds, sitting prone in the middle of an intersection was enough to raise a sweat – even without other traffic around. While I couldn’t replicate the fault again, it remained a worry every time I jumped in the car.

Finally, the steering could happily be a two-mode affair with Normal and Sport steering modes feeling light and direct enough. The Light steering mode creates a super-light, over-assisted steering that makes it all too easy to unsettle the car at anything above parking speeds.

The rest of the package has a nicely balanced feel. The steering is linear and consistent, the ride is comfortable on all but the most jagged surfaces, and the handling is sure-footed and confident enough that the Ora isn’t out of its depth threading through a string of corners.

Road noise isn’t particularly well managed and as speed rises there’s plenty of tyre roar. The tyres themselves are unspectacular, from the lesser-known tyre brand Giti. In the wet, traction was noticeably reduced, and the choice of tyre is an area where GWM is obviously looking to save money rather than opting for a better quality, higher-priced tyre from a known brand.

Key details2023 GWM Ora Standard Range
EngineSingle electric motor
Drive typeFront-wheel drive
Power-to-weight ratio81.8kW/t
Spare tyre typeTyre repair kit
Turning circle11.2m

Should I buy a GWM Ora?

With eye-catching looks both inside and out, the Ora certainly stands out. It looks premium at first glance, but once you get in and poke, prod and drive it, you’ll see that the Ora hatchback is caught between GWM’s low-priced past and its more balanced current vehicle range.

Ultimately, the electrical gremlins in this car – from minor inconveniences like brake regen that doesn’t remember where it’s supposed to be set and an unresponsive touchscreen, to more fundamental problems like an acceleration cutout and a one-pedal mode that could see owners coast into a car in front if they trust it – mean that right now it is style over substance.

As much as I liked driving the Ora and the features of this car (as reflected by its segment scores), every drive came with an unsettling dose of ‘what might go wrong this time?’. As a result, we’ve given the Ora a Fit For Purpose score of three – the primary purpose of any new car should be to operate in a reliable way, which simply isn’t the case here.

We raised these concerns with GWM and even took the car back to its head office for a check-up during our test period. GWM said its diagnostics turned up no issues. A GWM spokesperson told Drive: “We're certainly not aware of any wider issue relating to the infotainment screen display on the Ora, even a seemingly intermittent issue like in this case. However, in the event that any customer experiences a similar issue, our dealer network will only be too willing to help.”

That may be, but my experience with this car was such that we cannot recommend it. Not until GWM can guarantee a safe and reliable driving experience and infotainment system, which – let’s face it – houses most of the car’s controls.

If owners encounter the same frustrations, it seems there’s little scope to improve on the Ora as it currently stands.

How do I buy a GWM Ora – next steps?

If you’re smitten by how the Ora looks and are prepared to live with its foibles despite our major concerns covered in the review above, the Ora Standard Range is the sharpest value pick. For anyone that needs closer to 400km of range, the $6000 more expensive Extended Range version, with the same equipment list, might be the way to go. It all comes down to how far you need to go on one charge.

Keeping the price as sharp as possible feels like the key here – and the Ora faces stiff competition from both MG and BYD on this front. The good news for buyers is that GWM has stock of both the Standard Range and Extended Range in dealers, but if you want the better-equipped Ultra or GT, you’ll have to wait for cars to arrive in the country.

GWM’s website doesn’t allow you to locate stock near you. You can browse available GWM vehicles for sale at

We strongly recommend taking a test drive at a dealership before committing and thumbing through as many infotainment and settings screens as possible to make sure you’re happy with the experience the Ora offers.

With so much pressure on the entry level of the EV market, things can change quickly. To stay up to date on the GWM range since our review, you’ll find all the latest news here.

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