Step inside the Ora 03 and on first impression the claim that this is a premium product rings true. Most surfaces above waist level are soft touch, and the red microsuede material that lines the dashboard and door cards feels plusher than the textured rubber you might ordinarily find there.
The seats are upholstered in an unusually soft synthetic leather. It gets a little sweaty on long journeys, but it’s a cut above the plain vinyl you sit on in an MG 5 EV. The bright red and beige colour scheme won’t be to everyone’s taste, but it’s a nice change from the gloomy blackness of so many modern cars. Green and black are available if you prefer something more subdued.
Unfortunately, some of the controls are less pleasing. The rotary drive selector doesn’t feel like it’s connected to anything and the detents of the BMW-style indicator stalk (it always returns to centre) are quite weak, making it easy to indicate the wrong way.
The ‘chrome’ switch panel in the centre of the dash may be inspired by the Mini but doesn’t look or feel as convincing. In the 03, the toggle switches control a number of climate functions, but not the temperature. For that, you need to tap the very small up and down icons on the screen. Meanwhile, functions like the headlight aim and driving mode, which could happily have been integrated into the touchscreen, get dedicated buttons.
Better news comes in the form of the available cabin space. Front passengers are unlikely to be short on storage thanks to trays and bins of various sizes in the centre console, as well as two cupholders and a spot for glasses in the roof.
Rear passengers enjoy generous leg room for this size of car, but rear accommodation is affected by the battery pack raising the floor height, so the seating position isn’t ideal and head room is limited. There’s a single charge port back there and no air vents, but that’s not unusual in this class.
GWM must have sacrificed some boot space in favour of rear-seat accommodation, though, as the Funky Cat has only slightly more luggage space than a Mini Electric.
At the time of writing GWM hadn’t got round to fitting Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. However, the company says it’s in the works.
Navigation, DAB radio, Bluetooth and, oddly, Deezer, are built in to the 10.25in touchscreen’s interface, but for podcasts or any other streaming service, we had to use Bluetooth. It provided a relatively stable connection, but it is impractical compared with phone mirroring. The speakers can also sound a little thin when competing with road noise on the motorway.
Generally, the system’s interface is fairly simple but it suffers from a messy design and tiny on-screen buttons – particularly those for the navigation’s keyboard. The nav itself works well and will show how much range you’ll have left at your destination.
Pressing the voice command button or saying ‘Hello Ora’ triggers the voice assistant and causes a cartoon character to pop up on the screen, but we found it was unable to parse fairly simple commands like “find the nearest Gridserve charger”.