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GWM ORA 03 interior, tech and comfort

2024 onwards (change model)
Comfort rating: 3.9 out of 53.9

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

  • Colourful, retro-futuristic interior
  • Dominated by two screens
  • Nicely made, but tech lagging in usability

How is the quality and layout?

The Ora 03’s retro-futuristic styling continues with a vengeance on the inside, where cream-coloured plastics with blue satin flashes lend the cabin a much brighter ambiance than most of its rivals. There are darker variants available, but we like this one the best.

Everything feels well screwed-together, which isn’t always the case in cars from Chinese manufacturers. While it’s not as plush as a MINI Electric, it’s certainly an improvement on an MG4 EV.

The clean-looking dashboard is dominated by a pair of 10.25-inch screens, one for infotainment and another for the instruments. In terms of clarity and brightness, they’re certainly on a par with most rivals, though the massive steering wheel has a tendency to block out one edge of the infotainment display depending on how you sit.

Physical switchgear is minimal. You get five controls underneath the screen – the hazard lights plus a few climate control shortcuts, though the majority of heating and ventilation is controlled through the screen. On the centre console there’s a flimsy-feeling drive selector as well as the switch for the electronic handbrake.

The steering wheel is also peppered with controls, which while they appear to be touch-sensitive are actually proper buttons. They don’t feel nice to press, though, and they’re mostly unmarked, so functionality must be learned rather than just innately figured out.

Infotainment and tech

A few minutes with the Ora 03’s infotainment system shows that the gloss and polish of the rest of the interior doesn’t extend to the software. The interface here is really poor, with an array of problems that we’d like to see fixed in the next generation of GWM’s infotainment software.

Perhaps the first clue that the system isn’t entirely geared towards Western tastes are the three large shortcuts to music streaming services barely anybody uses. Those are just about the only controls one could describe as ‘large’, though, as almost everything else (including the oft-used shortcut keys down the right side of the screen) is tiny and very difficult to hit while on the move.

Too much of the interface is based around these controls which often combine text-heavy labels with minuscule virtual toggle switches. This is worst in the climate control.

Sadly, at this point in time you can’t even bypass the system and use Apple CarPlay or Android Auto – ’cause the Ora 03 doesn’t support either. GWM has promised this is coming in a future update, but right now it’s conspicuous by its absence.

At least the Ora 03 isn’t missing much else by way of tech – there’s a 360-degree camera setup, keyless entry and start, built-in navigation and internet radio connectivity.

Comfort

Passenger comfort in the Ora 03 is largely excellent for a small electric car – it’s one of the highlights of the whole car. Not only do you get plenty of space, but the seats themselves are comfortable, though broad-shouldered rear passengers will find themselves a little bit hemmed in by the car’s teardrop roofline.

Of course, being fully electric means there’s no engine noise to spoil refinement. Wind and road noise are quite well contained too, though the motor and the brakes make a racket during low-speed manoeuvring.