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Ora 07 is Great Wall Motor's grand gesture with a flash of lightning

Ora 07 is Great Wall Motor's grand gesture with a flash of lightning

Ora's fastback flagship 07 aka Lightning Cat is pretty quick, nicely equipped, and boldly designed to capture the attention of open-minded motorists who can afford it.

How much is the said affordability? Based on the current pricing in China, the 07 Lightning Cat standard variant may cost about 50 per cent more (before taxes and COE) than the high-spec 03 Good Cat in Singapore. 

The top-of-the-line, most lightning-like 07 Performance variant with all-wheel-drive and all the Beijing bells and digital whistles, which bravely targets the BYD Seal and Tesla Model 3, may cost at least twice as much as the 03 Good Cat in Singapore without COE.   

These estimated costings equate to enough modern Chinese electric car for the money if it's the single-motor, front-drive Ora 07 with just over 149kW (200hp), 340Nm, a 64.3kWh battery and an ample range of 640 kilometres (NEDC).

It would be significantly more than enough if it's the dual-motor, all-wheel-drive Ora 07 with double the electric power (304kW / 408hp), double the torque (680Nm), a much bigger battery capacity (83.5kWh) and a range of 550 kilometres. 

In the Singapore motoring context, where the average distance covered by a passenger car is about 50 kilometres a day, the dual-motor Ora 07 could be good for around 10 days of driving on a full charge before needing a recharge, while the more efficient single-motor version could go for a further two days before it needs a pit stop at a charging point. 

We sampled the fanciest Ora 07 variant in Baoding, China, during the Asean media tour conducted by Great Wall Motor (GWM) on the sidelines of Auto China 2024, the country's national motor show which is one of the biggest and brightest in today's disrupted global motoring industry.

Big and bright, too, is the Ora 07, also known as Lightning Cat in the China domestic market before the model name was simplified for export purpose. 

GWM's vice-president of design, Andrew Dyson, told Motorist: "It's a bit of a shame, because I think the cat names are quite good. They have a character, they're quite different. But the people selling the cars, they thought that these model names were not ideal, maybe they didn't quite sound serious enough."

That being said, the Ora in question is seriously good, whether known as 07 or Lightning Cat. 

The manufacturer's naming convention for its electric fastback might have been unclear at one stage, but there is clarity about the car's mission - to challenge its direct rivals from BYD (Seal) and Tesla (Model 3), both of which are powerful in more ways than one. 

The Ora challenger gets going with styling which follows the desirable but rather predictable Chinese premium-EV design formula of "swoopy with fabulous lights and fantastic rims".

But the Ora design team gave the 07 their own spin, with interesting results.

The front looks like an upsized 03 Good Cat, with similar headlights seemingly inspired by past Porsches of the loveable kind, an unusual bumper structure that looks almost organic, and wonderfully "puffy" wheelhouses. The alloy wheels are either 18-inch or 19-inch depending on the variant (the latter is standard for the Performance spec), with the bigger wheels sporting a wilder/weirder design than the 18-inch set. 

The 07's doors are frameless, accentuating the "clean" glasshouse, whose almost ovoid shape is emphasised by its chromed outline. The door handles lie flush, to the benefit of aerodynamics on the move, until they pop out at an angle when ready/unlocked for cabin entry at a standstill. 

Also laying flush with the bodywork until deployment is the adaptive rear wing aft of the rear windscreen, which modifies the profile of the vehicle from fastback to "fasterback".

That windscreen, by the way, appears to be a sleek extension of the dome-style panoramic glass roof, making the 07 look even more dramatic from any rear angle. 

It's a crashworthy body, too, which is increasingly important these days because powerful electric cars with their rapid acceleration and relative heaviness (due to their batteries and motors) tend to make the force of accidental impact stronger and therefore riskier to life and limb. 

The 07 body's safety-cage construction and optimised proportion (77.6 per cent) of high-strength materials, which include several types of vehicular steel for rigidity, are said to meet the stringent crash standards of China's C-NCAP and Europe's E-NCAP.  

The occupants inside the 07 would be protected then, and pampered too. 

There is plush synthetic leather everywhere, supple cushioning for bodies and buttocks, and enough lounging space for everybody on board, although a pair of folks taller than 1.75-metre me may find the headroom less generous than the legroom. 

The air-conditioning is powerful and effective, even in blazing hot Asian weather. Incidentally, the Chinesy description of the 07's air-con is almost poetic — "non-sensitive sweeping wind with three-dimensional soft wind feeling". 

Feeling good in the 07 comes naturally to the driver. The front seats are supple when the car is cruising, yet supportive enough when the car is cornering. They are also equipped with built-in ventilation and multi-mode, multi-point massagers for a more relaxing ride, especially in the hustle and bustle of city traffic. 

The cockpit is a nice work of Chinese automotive art in the current EV era. It has a touch of classic Porsche 911 in the triple-circular-dial digital cluster, while the rest of the dashboard straddles an Ora-defined line between fantasy and functionality.  

That "sloping spar" smack in the middle of the dash not only looks fantastic, it also brings the climate controls , hazard-lights button and drive-mode switch closer to the driver. Useful, too, is the cubbyhole nestled below the dashboard spar to supplement the roomy glovebox. 

The interior's overall fit-and-finish is impressive, although we're not sure yet about the colour-fastness of the bourgeois brown upholstery, the tightness of the switchgear and the durability of the silvery plastics.

The heart of the infotainment is a 12.3-inch multimedia touchscreen, which is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and hooked up to 11 amplifier-driven Infinity speakers for shiok audio immersion.

Various USB-A and USB-C ports, plus a neat phone-charging slot behind the designer cupholder, juice up your gadgets. 

The car's own made-in-China gadgetry includes an array of preventive-safety devices, 360-degree surround cameras, Adaptive Cruise Control which is able to adapt to highway bends, and a GWM Ora app for smartphone management of certain functions such as remote locking/unlocking, charging status and vehicle locator.  

Located at the 4 o'clock position of the steering-wheel boss is an obvious red button to activate "Sport", which plays an engine-revving sound effect as a cheeky preamble to the max-attack acceleration coming up next, fast. 

With throttle pedal to the motor metal, the Ora 07 Performance takes off like an Air China business-class jet on the tarmac, but electrically and silently. 

On paper, the dual-motor, all-wheel-drive machine with over 400 horsepower and even more torque (+10Nm) than the speediest BYD Seal is able to crack the 0-100km/h sprint in 4.3 seconds. In practice, it feels a little less fast than that, blunted by the Ora's 2.2-tonne weight, which goes up by another 200kg or so with three well-fed Asian/Singaporean adults in the cabin. 

The suspension of the Ora 07 seems to be on the softer side of "grand tourer" and the steering is luxury-light rather than sporty-tight, but the car is easy to drive, comfortable, practical and welcoming. 

The ultimate Ora 07 will certainly give the BYD Seal and Tesla Model 3 a run for their money when it goes on sale in Singapore by the end of 2024. The Lightning Cat might even leave open-minded motorists thunderstruck. 

ALSO READ: BMW X2 sDrive16i M Sport review: Now comes with a sensible 1.5-litre unit for style seekers

This article was first published in Motorist.

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