BYD Dolphin review
The BYD Dolphin may be one of the cheapest electric cars on sale, but it delivers in many areas – making it something of an EV bargain
- Smart interior
- Lots of standard kit
- Exceptional value
- Entry-level model not available yet
- Gimmicky technology
- Not the most fun to drive
Wallbox charge time
9hrs est. (0-100%, 7.4kW)
29mins (30-80%, 88kW)
BYD Dolphin verdict
We had high hopes for the BYD Dolphin, and a comfortable drive with fiercely competitive pricing have cemented the electric supermini’s place at – or very close to – the top of its class. It’s efficient, spacious and even the cheapest versions (due in 2024) get a big infotainment screen, leather-style seats and a plethora of camera kit.
While we’ve not yet driven the entry-level model, we reckon the mid-spec Dolphin Comfort, with its long range and strong equipment list probably represents the sweet spot in the lineup. If you’re in the market for a great value small EV, add the BYD Dolphin to your list.
Range details, specs and alternatives
The BYD Dolphin is the Chinese manufacturer’s second car to launch in the UK following the accomplished Atto 3 SUV. If you’ve never heard of BYD, don’t despair – the company is huge in its home market, and recently overtook Volkswagen at the top of the country’s overall sales charts. A third model – the BYD Seal saloon – is due later in 2023.
But the Dolphin is arguably one of the most exciting new EVs to arrive over the last few years. Priced from just over £26,000, it’s one of the cheapest electric cars currently on sale – undercutting rivals like the MG4, Vauxhall Corsa Electric, Peugeot e-208 and Renualt ZOE. It’s built on BYD’s state of the art e-Platform 3.0 – with all the benefits you’d expect from a company that’s claimed to produce a large proportion of the world's smartphone batteries.
At launch there is just one battery and motor combination available. The 60kWh battery is good for up to 265 miles, while the 201bhp motor allows this electric Ford Fiesta alternative to sprint from 0-62mph in seven seconds flat. Top speed, if that kind of thing matters to you, is 100mph.
In early 2024, this version will be joined by a pair of less powerful (93bhp and 174bhp) models, mated to a smaller 45kWh battery. BYD claims these models will be capable of 193-211 miles on a charge. Performance figures are yet to be confirmed for these models, but we expect the base 93bhp model to take over 10 seconds to reach 62mph, so it’s not fast by EV standards.
In time, there will be for specs available: Active, Boost, Comfort and Design – will be available in time, with all cars featuring a rotating 12.8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, vegan leather seats and 360-degree cameras. Stepping up to the Boost model not only brings a fitting ‘boost’ in power, but also larger wheels and more sophisticated rear suspension – a must-have for bumpy British roads.
We reckon the mid-spec Comfort with its bigger battery, extra power and faster charging will be the best option for most buyers. Top-spec Design versions like the one we drove get a panoramic roof, privacy glass and wireless phone charging – even still, the most luxurious Dolphin models are cheaper than even a base electric Vauxhall Corsa.
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In This Review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe BYD Dolphin may be one of the cheapest electric cars on sale, but it delivers in many areas – making it something of an EV bargain
- 2Range, battery & chargingBase Dolphin models offer a solid range considering the budget price tag, while top-spec cars have the ability to travel even further
- 3Running costs & insuranceThe BYD Dolphin is the cheapest electric car on sale, and should be equally inexpensive to run
- 4Performance, motor & driveAt home in the city, the Dolphin’s light steering and soft suspension makes it easy to drive at a relaxed pace
- 5Interior, dashboard & infotainmentThe Dolphin’s funky interior and long equipment list help set it apart from rivals
- 6Boot space, seating & practicalityThe BYD Dolphin is spacious for a supermini and can even function as a small family EV
- 7Reliability & safety ratingThe BYD Dolphin uses tried-and-tested tech and while a safety rating is pending, it gets lots of driver assistance tech as standard