Chinese EV with controversial feature is successor to 1960s classic

Whilst a growing number of motorists in the UK are aware of GWM ORA for their 03, a trendy all-electric hatchback that has been on sale here since 2022, the company also produce a number of models exclusively for the Chinese market.

One of the most interesting is the Ballet Cat, another high-end compact model that looks very similar to a classic Volkswagen Beetle.

Whilst Volkswagen discontinued their revamped take on the Beetle in 2019, the Ballet Cat could be the spiritual successor to one of the world’s most recognised cars.

On sale in China since 2022, the entry level version of the all-electric GWM ORA Ballet Cat retails for 179,800 yuan (£19,730).

As a result, the Chinese hatch is around £10,000 less than similarly-sized western EVs such as the Peugeot e-208 and Mini Electric.

The GWM ORA Ballet Cat shares a lot of it’s styling features with the Volkswagen Beetle, including the very emphasized wheel arches, and the rounded bonnet which spans down to the chrome-effect bumpers.

Harking back to the 1950s and 60s, there are a number of chrome trim pieces on the car, sporting very rounded door mirrors and small ‘hub-caps’ on the wheel trims.

Nevertheless, the Ballet Cat is not a carbon copy of the classic German people’s car, being a much more practical five door that has more modern features such as LED daytime running lights on the wings and a rear spoiler.

Inside, the mix of new and old continues, with many GWM ORA Ballet Cats featuring brightly coloured faux-leather seats and a retro colour-coded steering wheel with a chrome half-rim.

This is contrasted by a 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen, placed next to the digital instrument panel, and a wireless phone charging pad between the front seats.

Marketing the model as a feminine choice, the Chinese company have also included a small compartment in the centre console that is designed to store makeup and a ‘Lady Driving Mode’, which turns on adaptive cruise control to maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front.

Entry-level versions of the GWM ORA Ballet Cat feature a 49.92kWh battery pack that is mated to a 169bhp motor that drives the front wheels. As a result, the Chinese hatch is capable of reaching a top speed that has been limited to 96mph and cover a 249-mile range.

However, motorists happy to pay a little extra for their Ballet Cat can get an example fitted with a larger battery, giving the car the ability to travel an impressive 311 miles per charge.

Whilst it is incredibly unlikely that GWM Ora will bring the Ballet Cat to the UK. However, drivers looking for an electric car that is a little more unique will soon be able to buy an 07, a Tesla Model 3-sized model that is set to arrive later in 2024.

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