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BYD Dolphin Review

Electric family hatchback

Comfortable driving experience

Up to 265-mile range

Competitive price

Design & Powertrain

BYD Dolphin hero

The design of the BYD Dolphin takes inspiration from – yes, you guessed it – a dolphin. BYD says that the side profile reflects a leaping dolphin, and the curves in the interior are based on waves.

Whether you can see any dolphin inspiration in the car’s design is a personal matter, but the Dolphin offers decent legroom for rear seat occupants, and a 345-litre boot; a high false floor covers a large storage compartment which can easily swallow two sets of charging cables.

The Dolphin in Design trim level, as tested, features a 60.4 kWh Lithium Iron-Phosphate (LFP) Blade Battery. BYD started off making batteries before it manufactured cars, and the company claims that its Blade Battery has improved levels of safety, durability and performance compared to the batteries in other EVs.

The Dolphin has a 204 PS electric motor and is front-wheel drive.

Driving Experience

One of the key features of the BYD Dolphin is its comfortable ride – both in terms of its primary ride quality on smooth roads, and its secondary ride quality when faced with bumps and potholes.

Because the Dolphin is compact, it also has relatively agile handling. Front-wheel drive means that wheelspin is always a possibility when accelerating from standstill, but the traction control system generally manages grip levels well.

Performance is perfectly sufficient, with a 0-62 mph acceleration time of 7.0 seconds. The Dolphin’s ride quality, performance and driving range means that it can cope easily with motorways, however there can be some road and wind noise at motorway speeds.

Changing gear in the Dolphin is interesting. There’s no gear selector between the front seats, or on the steering column. Instead there’s a row of rotating switches underneath the central touchscreen; the right-hand button is the gear selector. You twist the control one way for Drive, and the other way for Reverse (and there’s a button on the end for Park). This is an unusual design for a gear selector, but you actually get used to it fairly quickly.

BYD Dolphin interior
BYD Dolphin panoramic roof

The drive modes are also selected using one of these rotating controls; the options are Sport, Normal or Eco, and there’s a separate switch for snow and ice.

If you want to adjust the level of regenerative braking this can’t be done via the gear selector, and there are no steering column-mounted paddles. Instead you have to do this using the touchscreen, via a relatively lengthy process which involves pressing the vehicle button at the bottom right of the touchscreen, then selecting ‘New Energy’, then selecting regenerative braking, then selecting standard or high.

It's a similar story, involving lots of button-pressing on the touchscreen, to switch off the lane departure warning system and the speed warning system. The lane departure warning system can intervene in the steering quite sharply, and an American voice will tell you repeatedly if you exceed the speed limit.

The main features on the touchscreen home screen – which can be rotated between landscape and portrait formats – are three circles for Navigation, Spotify and DAB. At the bottom of the screen are some buttons for the climate controls. If you’re using Apple CarPlay, these climate controls disappear, leaving you with no way to adjust the heating and ventilation.

Range & Charging

The BYD Dolphin has a WLTP combined electric driving range of 265 miles in Design and Comfort trim levels. The average real-world range of the Dolphin is likely to be around 220 miles.

In Active trim the Dolphin has an official range of 211 miles, or 192 miles in Boost trim.

The maximum DC rapid charging rate for the Dolphin, in Design and Comfort trim levels, is 88 kW, which results in a 10% to 80% charge time of 40 minutes. Active and Boost models have a slower maximum DC rapid charging rate of 60 kW.

Comfort and Design trim levels have an 11 kW onboard AC charger which can provide a 1% to 100% charge in 6 hours 12 minutes; Active and Boost models have a 7 kW onboard charger.

All Dolphin models feature a heat pump, which uses heat from the powertrain to help warm the cabin in cold weather, aiming to minimise any loss of battery range. BYD claims that its direct cooling and heating system increases the thermal efficiency by up to 15% in winter.

The Dolphin also has a Vehicle to Load (V2L) function, allowing the vehicle to power external electrical equipment.

New to EVs? Elevate your charging know-how by taking a look at our charging guides: How much does it cost to charge an electric vehicle? and How long does it take to charge an electric car?

Price and Model Range

The BYD Dolphin is available in four trim levels: Active, Boost, Comfort and Design.

Active trim level features a 44.9 kWh battery, a 70 kW (95 PS) motor, and is priced at £26,195.

Boost trim level has a 44.9 kWh battery, a 130 kW (176 PS) motor, 17-inch wheels, multi-link rear suspension and is priced at £27,195.

Comfort trim level has a 60.4 kWh battery, a 150 kW (204 PS) motor, and is priced at £30,195.

Design trim level has a 60.4 kWh battery, a 150 kW (204 PS) motor, a panoramic roof, Vehicle to Load, rear privacy glass, wireless smartphone charging, and is priced at £31,695.

  • 60.4 kWh battery

  • 150 kW (204 PS) electric motor

  • Panoramic roof

  • Vehicle to Load

  • Rear privacy glass

  • Wireless smartphone charging

  • Multi-link rear suspension

Conclusion

The Dolphin brings BYD battery technology to a small family hatchback, delivering a WLTP combined driving range of up to 265 miles. The Dolphin also offers comfortable ride quality, and better performance than the typical small family hatchback. Rear legroom is spacious, and the (dolphin-inspired) interior design is interesting. The lane departure warning system is very intrusive, and switching it off requires a lot of button-pressing on the touchscreen – and it’s the same story to switch off the person with an American accent warning about speed limits. It’s even a similar process to change the level of regenerative braking; the infotainment system would benefit from requiring less button-pressing to change basic vehicle settings.

Dolphin offers

HatchbackRange 210 miles

BYD Dolphin 150kW Design 60.4kWh 5dr Auto

  • £2,086.55 Initial rental (ex. VAT)
  • £2,503.86 Initial rental (inc. VAT)
  • 24 Month term
  • 5000 Annual mileage
  • Offer expiry Monday 30 September 2024
  • Subject to status and conditions + arrangement fee
£231.84 Business contract hire per month (ex. VAT)
£278.21 Personal contract hire per month (inc. VAT)
In Stock
HatchbackRange 210 miles

BYD Dolphin 150kW Comfort 60.4kWh Auto

  • £2,255.95 Initial rental (ex. VAT)
  • £2,707.14 Initial rental (inc. VAT)
  • 48 Month term
  • 5000 Annual mileage
  • Offer expiry Monday 30 September 2024
  • Subject to status and conditions + arrangement fee
£250.66 Business contract hire per month (ex. VAT)
£300.79 Personal contract hire per month (inc. VAT)
In Stock

Choose your Dolphin car lease

HatchbackRange 210 miles

BYD Dolphin 150kW Design 60.4kWh 5dr Auto

  • £2,921.46 Initial rental (ex. VAT)
  • £3,505.76 Initial rental (inc. VAT)
  • 48 Month term
  • 5000 Annual mileage
  • Subject to status and conditions + arrangement fee
£324.61 Business contract hire per month (ex. VAT)
£389.53 Personal contract hire per month (inc. VAT)
HatchbackRange 160 miles

BYD Dolphin 70kW Active 44.9kWh 5dr Auto

  • £2,461.74 Initial rental (ex. VAT)
  • £2,954.09 Initial rental (inc. VAT)
  • 48 Month term
  • 5000 Annual mileage
  • Subject to status and conditions + arrangement fee
£273.53 Business contract hire per month (ex. VAT)
£328.23 Personal contract hire per month (inc. VAT)