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Cars are an absolutely essential part of most folks’ daily lives but, being in them is not meant some medieval form of torture – they are meant to be fun and driving them should be a pleasurable experience and automakers go to great lengths to provide just that.

Every now and then something comes along that is just left of centre enough to make getting behind the wheel a totally immersive and invigorating experience and that, right now, is the GWM ORA 03 300 Super Luxury battery electric urban runabout.

Interested in a GWM ORA but on a budget - then click here for the best deals

Myth busting: Electric cars are not a panacea and will not stop global warming. They will not clear the earth of all pollution and there are many questions to be answered about the pollution levels of the manufacturing processes for these cars.

Driven by politics and misguided emotion the race to electrify has largely been badly thought through with declining sales in several countries raising additional questions. Now, I am fully supportive of making this planet a better place to live and absolutely agree electric cars will have a positive impact on air quality levels for inner city residents and workers.

Electric cars are here to stay and need NOT to be feared – even here with our load shedding problems.

Ownership of an electric car is a decision that must come with the understanding it will involve a significant lifestyle change revolving around how, when and where you intend to charge the batteries and, while the charging infrastructure is still growing, accepting this could sometimes include a waiting time of a couple of hours.

In addition, it involves attitude. During my test of the ORA, I needed to recharge so drove to Fourways Mall only to find two cars already in the Jaguar-branded charging bay. The one on ‘power’ charge was already full as the green lights on the charger were flashing and the security guard confirmed the owner had been away for nearly an hour.

I waited and sure enough a few minutes later said owner and his wife arrived pushing their grocery trolley and proceeded to unload the contents into and then confirmed, loudly, the starting time of the movie they were going to see before waltzing off leaving a fully charged car because they too lazy to just move it to a regular parking bay.

If you are opting for an electric car – don’t be that person!

Now, on to some of the best fun I have had with my clothes on for a very long time. The GWM ORA is just that that from its 1950’s retro styling with red and white upholstery and trim to its zippy, nippy character and interesting styling.

From the C-pillar forward I was reminded very much of the Porsche 550 Spyder – the famous James Dean car – while the interior and seats could have come out of a 1950 Chev Bel Air. Also, another image presented; that of being at the wheel of one of those old elegant wooden speedboats.

The Porsche imagery may be less imagined than intentional since former Porsche designer Emanuel Derta led the design team for the car.

Sit in one and let your imagination run riot – it is worth it.

However, there is more than meets the eye on the curvaceous exterior design and it includes advanced and practical features such as an active air intake front grille, intelligent LED headlamps paired with a follow-me-home system and daytime running lights and a LED taillight and rear fog lamp.

The 300 Super Luxury is the base model in the range (of four) and is the lowest priced battery electric vehicle (BEV) on the market at R686 950. In reality, it should cost at least R300 00 less but is bludgeoned by local taxes and duties with no support from government for alternative energy.

A Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor delivering 126 kW and 250 Nm of peak torque to the front wheels powers all models. Weighing only 1 555 kg, this allows the GWM ORA 03 to dash from 0-100 km/h in 8,5 seconds and reach a top speed of just under 160 km/h.

Coupled with a 48 kWh lithium-ion phosphate battery, the electric motor in the entry-level standard-range 300 Super Luxury delivers a consumption of 16,7 kWh/100 km for a range of up to 310 km (WLTP cycle) – in reality closer to 270 km with a little in reserve.

Recharging of the smaller battery in the 300 Super Luxury from 10% to 89% with a 64 kW DC charge will take around 50 minutes. It comes with a home charger that can be plugged into any three-pin socket without the need to install any additional equipment.

This will take several hours but the upside is it automatically carries on charging when load shedding finishes, unlike some wall charger units that do not automatically restart.

The petrolhead in me absolutely loves the instant power and torque from the battery and this attributes goes a long way to defining the mischievous nature of the little car – well, not so little if you consider it is mere centimetres shorts than the Haval Jolion but has almost exactly the same interior space.

Apart from the styling, the interior combines vegan-friendly materials with two 10,25-inch touchscreens integrated into the front panel – with bright chrome switches for the air-conditioning, a rotary-style gear selector and full Apple CarPlay compatibility (with Android Auto compatibility coming soon).

Standard equipment includes 18-inch alloy wheels, a six-way power driver’s seat, a four-way power passenger seat, electric anti-glare interior rear-view mirror surround-view camera, adaptive cruise control and rear parking sensors.

The five-seater offers 228 litres of luggage space (with the rear seats fixed in position) expanding to 858 litres with the rear seats folded down.  

It has four driving modes -- Standard, ECO, Sport, Auto and ECO+ -- and the electric power steering (EPS) system has three selections: Light, Comfort and Sport. Naturally, if you choose Sport and really head out to play, the battery range will diminish very rapidly.

Standard safety equipment includes dual SRS crash bags, front side bags, side curtain bags and front centre bag, ISOFIX, FA Secondary Collision Mitigation (SCM), tyre pressure monitor sensor, anti-lock braking System, Electronic Brake-Force Distribution (EBD), traction control system (TCS), Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and a tyre repair kit.

The car is light and nimble as, as mentioned, responds instantly to throttle input, always begging for some point-and-squirt action on a decently twisty road – and it does have that instant slowing action when you lift off the throttle (and some regeneration of the battery charge).

Sure, you cannot take the ORA and buzz off to Durban. It is not that kind of car. With more charging points on the way, no problem but it is intended to be an urban warrior, doing fairly short trips to office and back or the school run and a bit of shopping – and carefully managed will reduced charging needs to maybe once a week!

Nevertheless – it simply is fun!

Check out the video here

Colin Windell