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GWM ORA 03 engines, drive and performance

2024 onwards (change model)
Performance rating: 3.1 out of 53.1

Written by Keith Adams Published: 18 January 2024 Updated: 19 January 2024

  • One electric motor and two battery sizes
  • Ora 03 isn’t bad to drive, but lacks a bit of sharpness
  • Rivals feel more polished

What power options are there?

You get a single choice of motor with the Ora 03, though a hotter model is on the way with more power. In its native China, it’s offered as a less powerful base model, but we doubt that version will be offered here.

It’s offered with a 48kWh or 63kWh battery powering a 171hp motor driving the front wheels, with the same performance figures claimed for both. Acceleration is pretty nippy – 0-30mph comes up in 3.8 seconds, with the 0-62mph time quoted at 8.3 seconds. Maximum speed is limited to 99mph.

With 171hp, the single electric motor gives good if not outstanding performance. It’s nippy off the line and acceleration doesn’t tail off too much as you approach motorway speeds unlike some EVs. A Peugeot e-208 is similarly swift, but both the MG4 EV and Megane are usefully quicker, while the Born e-Boost is approaching hot hatch fast.

What’s it like to drive?

Pretty undemanding. The Ora 03 isn’t as softly sprung as an MG4, so while it isn’t quite as comfortable it feels better tied down over undulating country roads. It’s certainly better at dealing with rough roads than the stiff MINI Electric and Cupra Born.

That means the Ora 03 isn’t as sharp as those cars in the bends, with a bit more lean and a little less agility. Still, the steering proves precise and well-weighted so it’s easy to carve through corners, and the handling is safe and predictable. Push too hard and the nose gently runs wide in a safe and predictable manner, making it perfectly competent if not terribly fun.

The electric motor is quiet enough with the expected distant whirr, with wind and road noise proving to be the problem. Get up to motorway speeds and you’ll be reaching for the stereo dial more than you would in a Born.

There are selectable driving modes, which as in most rivals are better left untouched. Eco+ limits top speed to 55mph and reduces acceleration, while Sport weights up the steering and makes the throttle response hyperactive. Normal is the best choice of the three, though don’t be tempted by ‘auto’ which sometimes slips the car into Eco+ without your consent.

There are also adjustable levels of regenerative braking, though even the strongest isn’t very powerful and won’t take you down to a full stop.