I recently had a unique opportunity to drive the all electric GWM Ora 400 GT in South Africa. The EV has not yet launched locally, it has been delayed again, but I’m told it will come out sometime later this year. I’ve written about it for City Press as part of my new weekly coverage online, which you can read here.

GWM tells Recharged it wants to launch the Ora with a charging solution to offer customers a packaged deal should they wish to install a charger on their property. It is currently testing an SVOLT system locally, a sister brand of GWM, ahead of launching it in SA.

Prices for this will be shared at launch, but in the interim, GWM shared local pricing for the Ora, which will make it the cheapest EV in SA, starting at R716 900 and going up to R915 900. I posted about it here.

The company is also in talks with banks to add it as an extension to your bond, or as an addition to vehicle finance. The units are on display at their HQ in Johannesburg. I have more about this coming out in Forbes Africa, so stay tuned for that.

In the meantime, here’s a quick overview and thoughts about the GWM Ora 400 GT.

First Impressions

The car has a retro look about it, which kind of reminds me of a VW Beetle from the front, though, the designer was formerly a Porsche designer, so you can see some similarities in the front. It also reminds me of a Fiat 500 in a way, but as a hatch, it has four doors, with a decent amount of leg room in the back.

This particular top-of-the-line model, the 400 GT, is one of three variants that will launch here; you can tell it apart from the spoiler. It also has specific ‘lux’ interior finishes. There’s also a charging flap on the front left. Sometimes these things matter, like when you have a home charger with cable of a certain length like me – no need to alley dock.

I like how big the windscreen is, it also has a pano sunroof with blinds. It’s spacious and visibility is good from the inside. The finishes offer different textures, and the model I was black with red touches. It felt ergonomic and everything was within reach – for someone my size.

Let’s talk spec and tech

Okay, so GWM haven’t confirmed what the specs are for the Ora that will go on sale in South Africa, but what I can share is that the 400 GT model I drove has a 63kWh battery. According to WLTP figures, the range is around 400km. In terms of power and output, it is 126kW with 250Nm of torque. That’s decent for a small EV. Maximum charging speeds are 80kW on a DC charger, and I can’t say for sure if it will work on the 200kW charger at Mall of Africa. I don’t know what the voltage is either.

In terms of technology inside the car, it has a large infotainment screen attached to the driver display, though only the infotainment screen has a touch input. It looks modern and sleek. There’s a lot of real-time driving information visualised to see things like consumption, energy flow, etc – if you love stats like me, you will love this.

The Ora also has massaging seats in the front – how fancy? It has a hands-free tailgate feature, and another trick up its sleeve is that it can park itself! This is quite a nifty feature for a car at this price point. I included both these features in my Instagram Reel:


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A post shared by Nafisa Akabor (@nafisa)

What was the drive like?

It takes of like any other EV, but I found that when it came to power, it builds up to it, unlike other bigger EV SUVs I’ve driven with. It also depends on the mode you’re on. The car lets you toggle between eco, auto, standard, sport, etc; plus you choose a level of regeneration. There is one-pedal driving and then level of recuperation. So it gives plenty of options in terms of driving modes and finding something that suits you, versus say the Volvo EVs (there are no modes, just Drive and one-pedal). When you switch to sport mode, you can hear a sound to confirm it is activated. Overall, it is a comfortable drive for running around.

Who is aimed at?

The car is an small urban or city EV, meant for running around and short commutes. If you don’t drive a lot, this is actually a great car to own. And if you find some of the more bigger SUV EVs more expensive (naturally, in SA), this is that car that hits the spot for wanting to get from A to B if you want to switch to electric.

It also has a lot of tech features, so that’s another drawcard. I look forward to spending more time with it, charging it, and seeing what that process is like.