One of the perks of road-testing cars on a regular basis is the comments received from family, friends and even strangers, some of which give the usual thought process a good shake, rattle and roll and this happened recently while driving the GWM Ora 03 400 GT Ultra Luxury.

Driving a good mate, who is in the security industry, to the airport and giving him his first outing in a fully electric car prompted him to remark he would love to have the electric silence in the patrol vehicles, which would be a great help in getting closer to incidents before the baddies realised they were even there.

Food for thought!

GWM Ora 400 GT rear subusurban view

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He did also opine the 400 GT would make a nice rapid response car and, indeed the flagship model of the Ora range has all the fixtures and fitments to give it the right to be the flagship as well as having 126 kW and 250 Nm on call from the power pack for a sprint to 100 km/h time of 8,5 seconds and a terminal velocity of 197 km/h, which means the response is pretty rapid.

The motor provides the typical instant torque delivery found in all EVs, allowing for rapid acceleration. However, excessive power can result in some wheelspin. The ride comfort is generally good, although sharp impacts such as expansion joints or potholes are not as well cushioned by the suspension.

At a kerb weight of 1 540 kg, the Ora is relatively light for an EV and feels agile. Its soft springs, designed for comfort over speed bumps, can cause a bit of body roll in corners, but this is well-controlled. Like many EVs, the brake-energy recuperation system has three levels of resistance when you lift off the accelerator, plus a gentle one-pedal drive mode. However, adjusting these settings requires navigating through touchscreen menus, which can be frustrating.

The Driver Monitoring system, powered by a camera on the A-pillar, can sometimes be overly intrusive.

Additionally, the lane-keeping assist feature could be more intuitive to deactivate. This issue is not unique to GWM, however.

GWM Ora 400 GT interior view

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The 400 km range claim might be challenging to achieve if you spend much time on motorways. My first charge on a mixed route provided 290 km and this is adequate for urban commuting, but there may be occasions when you need more range.

Regular readers may remember I was rather enamoured with the base model Ora 300 – read the review here – and, like that version each curve and design element were crafted by a design team led by former Porsche designer Emanuel Derta and the look represents fashion, lifestyle, design, pop culture and urban culture, along with, as GWM puts it, ‘the joie de vivre of young, creative, and progressive individuals’.

I really loved the retro look and styling and the GT carries this but, in keeping with its flagship role, has more upmarket interior fettling with leather seating and, for me, loses some of the charm of the 1950’s styled seats with contrasting piping that make the base models so quirkily appealing.

Standard equipment on the Ora 03 Super Luxury models includes 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, a 10,25-inch digital instrument cluster, a 10,25-inch touchscreen infotainment system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless phone charger, leatherette seats, a six-way power driver’s seat, a four-way power passenger seat, adaptive cruise control.

GWM Ora 400 GT rotary drive knob

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Over and above that, the 400 GT Ultra Luxury adds unique 18-inch alloy wheels, unique bumpers and grille, powered hands-free tailgate, a panoramic sunroof, red brake callipers and automated parking.

All the trappings one would expect from a car costing R835 950. For some perspective on the price ladder, it comes up against the likes of the BMW X1 sDrive18i M Sport (R828 899), BYD Atto 3 Extended Range (R835 000) and Audi Q3 Sportback 40TFSI quattro S line (R839 600) – of which only the BYD is electric.

The GWM Ora measures 4 235 mm in length, 1,825 mm in width and 1 603 mm in height, with a wheelbase of 2 650 mm. This means it is actually bigger than it looks and can accommodate four adults quite easily with 228 litres of luggage space, expanding to 858 litres with the rear seats folded down.

Up front is a MacPherson strut suspension setup and a vertical arm torsion beam at the rear and this is more than enough to make for some real fun driving when the road gets tight and twisty. Four driving modes—Standard, ECO, Sport, and ECO+ — can be selected via the drive mode selector, and the electric power steering (EPS) system offers three settings: Light, Comfort, and Sport.

It is chock full of safety equipment and in addition to the standard items, the GT has things such as traffic-sign recognition, Intelligent Speed Assist (ISA), Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Intelligent Cruise Control (ICA), Auto Emergency Braking with Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection (AEB, AEB-P/B), Auto Emergency Braking Intersection Assist, Rear Cross-Traffic Assistant (RCTA) and Rear Cross-Traffic Brake (RCTB) among them.

Understanding ownership of an electric car requires a major lifestyle adjustment to fit in with charging needs and charging facilities, the Ora is a great way to buzz around the city and environs doing the daily grind – but having some fun at the same time.

It comes with a 7-year/200 000 km vehicle warranty, an 8-year/150 000 km warranty on high voltage parts, a 7-year/105 000 km service plan, and 7-year/unlimited km roadside assistance.

Watch the video review here

Colin Windell