Technique: GWM Ora Lightning Cat: Successful omen

Great Wall Motor is putting out feelers to Europe.

Technique: GWM Ora Lightning Cat: Successful omen

Great Wall Motor is putting out feelers to Europe. Not only with cars like the visually playful but technically mature Ora Funky Cat, but also through the cooperation with BMW and Mini on the new fully electric England runabout. No matter how vehemently they insist on their own development work in Munich, part of the technology comes from China. So it's not surprising that Ora is now upping the ante before the new Mini makes its debut. After the Funky Cat, the larger Lightning Cat is getting ready to make a splash in Europe. The sporty cat should land in Germany at the turn of the year 2023/24. The basis for the electric athlete Oras L.E.M.O.N platform, the battery has a capacity of 83.5 kilowatt hours, which is enough for the all-wheel drive version for 705 kilometers (New European Driving Cycle / NEDC), with the basic version it is 63.5 kWh and 555 kilometers.

The fact that Ora now only functions as a sub-brand under the mother company GWM shows that the Chinese are serious. No more independent brands. GWM is no longer coyly hidden, but is emblazoned on the rear of every Ora, including the Lightning Cat, which is called Ora Sport in Australia. Anyone who can speak Mandarin quickly discovers a special feature: At the rear, which is a mixture of Porsche Panamera and Bentley Continental with elliptical reflectors, there is not a “big” but a “long” wall.

Supposedly, a designer designed the Ora Lightning Cat, who also wielded the pencil in Zuffenhausen. The appearance of the prototype at the Paris Motor Show in autumn last year, where the Lightning Cat won hearts, shows that this mixture of the ball-eyed, child-like face of the Funky Cat and the dynamic, coupé-like silhouette of a Porsche Panamera is also well received in the Old World met. Visitors from Britain and Germany were particularly taken with the concept car, and even the traditionally patriotic French pursed their lips in admiration. Frameless windows and no-frills lines result in a drag coefficient of just 0.22. Unlike cars like the VW ID.7 or the Hyundai Ioniq 6, the Ora doesn't obey the dictates of aerodynamics as obviously. The rear spoiler only extends when needed and at a speed of over 70 km/h.

Nice outside, but ugly inside? Not really. The Zuffenhausen sports car ambience also blows through the interior. The three intertwined instruments are a trademark of Porsche vehicles and the ascending center console is also known from various models with the famous coat of arms on the hood. Especially since the operation is a mixture of direct input and control via the 12.3-inch touchscreen. Controlling the air conditioning and selecting driving modes is done via rocker arms and rotary knobs mounted on the rising center console. Additional functions and settings of the Stromer can be accessed via the monitor.

Now let's get behind the steering wheel. Despite the length of 4.87 meters, the Lightning Cat is rather narrow at the front and so airy in the rear that even adult Europeans can make themselves comfortable in the second row. After all, people in China still prefer to sit in the back on the right. When it comes to safety and the assistance systems, Ora doesn't do things by halves either: a high-resolution front camera, eight cameras and a total of 17 radar sensors support the pilot with an all-round view. The sensors are said to even detect obstacles measuring 15 by 10 centimeters that are up to 50 meters away. If this is the case, the emergency brake assistant will avoid a collision if necessary. The Chinese also have great ambitions when it comes to automated driving functions: It remains to be seen whether robotic maneuvers such as automatic lane changes on the Autobahn will be offered in this form in Germany in the near future.

Especially since the Lightning Cat cuts a good figure on the street and can be moved dynamically. Even the steering has shed its Asian restraint and is now more communicative. Of course, there is still a long way to go when it comes to the precision and feedback of a Porsche, but in contrast to some other vehicles from the Middle Kingdom, this is a clear step forward. We are in the 150 kW / 204 hp version with front-wheel drive and a torque of 340 Newton meters and did not feel underpowered, but this version lacks the verve for the Tesla Model 3 killer. The sound of a six-cylinder combustion engine, which fills the interior from the eleven loudspeakers of the Harmon Kardon sound system when accelerating, does not change that. After all, the BEV carves quickly around the corner, even if the front end leans a bit in fast corners. On the other hand, the chassis of the 2.2 ton cat is not uncompromisingly trimmed for tough sportiness.

In order to compete with the BMW i4 eDrive35 in terms of power, the Chinese are upgrading the Lightning Cat. So there will also be a performance version with all-wheel drive, which distributes 300 kW / 408 hp and a maximum torque of 680 Newton meters equally between the front and rear axles. In this provisional top version, the sprint from zero to 100 km/h is completed in 4.3 seconds and the propulsion ends at 180 km/h. be. When it comes to charging the batteries, the Chinese engineers build a high wall around them, since the little sister Funky Cat hasn't exactly proven to be a fast power tanker, but there is still some time to eradicate that before the German launch