GWM Ora 07 prototype drive

Ora 07 front

Ora’s second UK-bound model offers 402bhp and 354 miles of range for around £35,000

Arriving this summer, the Ora 07 saloon will expand the Chinese firm’s UK line-up to two, joining the smaller Ora 03 (née Funky Cat) hatchback.

Ora, owned by powerhouse GWM, will use quirky styling to bore a niche into the electric saloon segment in a bid to steal customers from legacy brands as it targets the Vauxhall Astra Electric and Peugeot e-308.

To tempt those buyers, the 07, expected to be priced from £35,000, gets four trims offering either a 64kWh LFP (Pure, Pro) or 83kWh NMC (Pro+, GT) battery. In its most efficient form, the 07’s maximum range is claimed to be 354 miles (WLTP), which is Tesla Model 3 Long Range levels of long-leggedness. 

It’s no slouch either. In top-rung all-wheel-drive GT specification, it offers as much as 402bhp, which propels the 07 from 0-62mph in 4.5sec.

Although it has yet to arrive in Europe, the EV was launched in 2021 in its native China as the Ora Lightning Cat. Back then, it was lauded as the catalyst for turning around Ora’s dropping sales.

The brand hopes this can be mirrored in Europe, as sales dropped at the start of 2024, after the brand sold just 9000 units in 2023. 

Before it arrives on our shores later this year, we’ve been given the keys to a near-production UK-spec car.

What’s the GWM Ora 07 like to drive?

What is immediately clear is how different the 07 looks in the metal: a mess of proportions and a pug-like face rather than, as photos suggested, an extended version of the quirky 03. What that means is, from the outset, this could be a difficult car for Ora to sell on looks alone. 

But this is something chief designer Andrew Dyson has already acknowledged. Instead, the GWM-owned brand will use the 07’s competitive finance deals (expected to match the 03’s 0% APR) and a plethora of standard kit (reversing camera, heated leatherette seats, adaptive cruise control etc) to attract buyers.

Usability is another key area. The 07, like its 03 sibling, has a well-sized interior, with plenty of storage bins and space for four adults. It’s much airer than its legacy rivals. Quality within is also very good, with soft leather-like seats offered in even the base form.

One major improvement Ora has made is how the 07 drives. Our reviews of the 03, which shares the same LEMON platform as the saloon, were critical of the hatchback, with heavy regenerative braking (which couldn’t be switched off), unrefined steering, overzealous safety systems, clunky infotainment, slow DC charging speeds and poor real-world range giving a general feeling that the car just felt unfinished.

The 07 is a better version of this, albeit not without retaining some of those faults.

Taking it out on GWM’s Baoding test track, situated about two hours from Beijing, the saloon felt a more refined product than its sibling, with better steering (the 03 required a bit of fighting at speed), smooth power delivery and good levels of grip from the new Michelin Pilot Sport EV tyres.

However, the heavy regen issues remain, as do the overzealous safety systems – although this could be softened before first deliveries, Ora has told Autocar – and poor infotainment.

The 07 is also hampered by heavy body roll when cornering, even at speeds of around 35mph.

How this would equate to real-world driving has yet to be seen, because our test was limited to the track. So we were also unable to properly test that claimed range or the charging speeds, which, Ora says, can hit DC limits of around 95kW.

Inside, though, the 07 continues the 03’s charming aesthetic, truly punching above its price. Leatherette touch points are nice, a raised central spine is a good-looking feature, and the seats are comfortable.

However, it’s the position of those seats that lets it down, with adjustments not allowing the driver to get low enough. I’m 6ft tall and, in the lowest setting, the roofline was still in my immediate eyeshot.

Given the lack of road testing, it’s hard to give the 07 a formal rating. But what we did find was that the saloon is a better prospect than its flawed sibling.

That’s not to say flaws don’t remain (infotainment and regen braking still being the key ones) but the 07 is definitely capable of poaching some buyers, especially given the interior feel and standard features.

How the brand will do that is by getting people into showrooms and behind the wheel, but getting buyers to that stage will be the hardest task, especially in the case of the unsightly saloon.

GWM Ora 07 prototype

Price £35,000 (est)

Engine Two electric motors, four-wheel drive

Power 402bhp

Torque 501lb ft

Kerb weight 2183kg

0-62mph 4.5sec

Top speed 112mph

CO2, tax band 0g/km, 2%

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