BYD Dolphin review

The Dolphin is one of the most affordable electric hatchbacks on sale and is sure to be a hit.

Pros: Practical, well-equipped, value for money.

Cons: Smallish boot, noisy at high speeds.

BYD Dolphin Design

Built on the same platform as the Atto 3, the Dolphin is pitched as a compact hatchback to take on the MG4 and Volkswagen ID.3. They’re all similar in length, though the Dolphin is a little taller and narrower overall. It’s part of BYD’s ‘Ocean Series’ along with the newly launched Seal four-door saloon. Yet there’s not much continuity between the design of these two – which is good for the Seal, but not so for the Dolphin, which could do with some of the Seal’s sleek style. It’s a teeny bit generic, particularly at the front. But some funky bi-tone metallic colour options, smart LED lighting and a full width light bar at the rear do lift it enough to bestow a little character of its own. 17-inch alloy wheels with coloured inserts come as standard on Comfort and Design models.

BYD Dolphin Interior

The cabin of the Dolphin is full of character, with a strong aquatic theme. The design of the dash resembles a wave, and the door handles are in the shape of a dolphin’s flipper. Design models come with a delightful coloured interior with soft touch materials in dark blue, red stitching on the steering wheel and red trim around the circular air vents. The vegan leather seats with integrated headrests are another highlight. There are areas of harder plastic in the cabin, but they are disguised well. The Dolphin is an exceptionally well-equipped car with lots of standard safety features as well as a 360-degree camera, heated front seats with power adjustment and a 12.8-inch rotatable touchscreen. Yet the digital tech on board is a mixed bag. The small digital instrument cluster behind the steering wheel is quite cluttered, with a lot of small icons. The touchscreen is a brilliant size with crisp graphics, however simple tasks like adjusting the fan speed require a few prods of the screen if you are using Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, which still require a cable to connect.

There’s lots of legroom in the rear for a compact hatchback, though the width of the car means it’s more comfortable for two. The 345-litre boot is a little disappointing for a compact hatchback, lagging behind its closest rivals. But it does offer features like a false floor and the rear seats can split fold 60:40.

BYD Dolphin Performance & Drive

A 204hp motor sends power to the front wheels and the Dolphin has no problem getting up to speed on motorways and performing overtaking manoeuvres. It’s not really that exciting to drive but it is capable and safe for the needs of hatchback buyers. It feels solid and comfortable on the road, though there is a fair bit of road and wind noise at high speeds on the motorway. The Dolphin uses BYD’s LFP (lithium iron phosphate) battery, which is cheaper to make and doesn’t use precious metals like cobalt and nickel. The 60.4kWh battery has an official range of up to 427 km (WLTP). A heat pump comes as standard to improve efficiency in cold weather. Average consumption sat close to 16.3kWh per 100 kilometres during our test drive, which equates to about 370 kilometres in real world driving - though consumption was considerably higher on the motorway.

An 11kW on board AC charger comes as standard. DC charging is up to 88kW, which is not as impressive as rivals but the Dolphin will still go from 10 to 80% charge in 40 minutes if you stop at a fast charger. It also comes with vehicle to load charging as standard so you can power household electrical appliances from the charging port with a special cable.

BYD Dolphin Pricing

The Dolphin 60.4kWh starts from €29,318 for the Comfort and from €31,192 for the Design and both are available from dealers now. Later in 2024, Boost and Active models will arrive using a smaller 44.9kWh battery with a starting price from just €25,570.

Carzone Verdict

The BYD Dolphin has a few weaknesses but overall it’s a great option if you want to go electric without spending a huge amount of money. It’s practical for its size and incredibly well-equipped, with decent range for a small family runabout.

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