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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

BYD Dolphin check drive | The Automobile Skilled

BYD Dolphin check drive | The Automobile Skilled

Make and mannequin: BYD Atto 3
Description: Mid-sized hatch – new-to-UK model’s second providing
Value vary: £26,195 – £31,695

BYD says: “The BYD Atto 3 combines fashionable aesthetics with distinctive intelligence and effectivity derived from pioneering electrical automobile know-how and sensible connectivity.”

We are saying: Competently styled, with a number of gear and reasonably priced, the BYD Dolphin is definitely worthy of consideration by the EV household hatch purchaser.


You can’t fault the tempo of BYD Auto – the Chinese language model launched itself onto the UK market with its Atto 3 SUV in mid 2023, and a second mannequin has arrived solely a few months on within the type of the Dolphin, a mid-sized electrical hatchback.

A bigger saloon mannequin, known as the Seal, might be in showrooms earlier than the top of 2023 and boasts a sub-four-second 0-62mph time. In the meantime an aggressive seller development programme has already included the opening of a showroom in London’s Berkeley Sq. amongst the likes of Bentley, Ferrari and Rolls-Royce, and can see the model’s retailers enhance from the present single figures to 100 by the top of 2024 – clearly, BYD could be very severe about making its mark within the UK.

What’s it?

The Dolphin is a part of BYD’s ‘Ocean Sequence’, and one among some 19 completely different fashions the model affords in its residence market of China. As we detailed in our characteristic on the model, BYD Auto may not be well-known to UK automotive patrons however the firm is massive globally, having offered greater than 5 million EVs. It’s even greater in batteries – half the world’s iPad batteries are made by BYD and it provides the batteries for one in 5 smartphones.

The Dolphin is a mid-sized hatchback and as such might be aiming to take clients from the likes of fellow Chinese language contender the highly-regarded MG 4, but in addition different mainstream EVs –it affords the inside house of a Volkswagen ID.3 in a automotive that’s extra Peugeot e-208 sized. The newcomer will ultimately be obtainable in 4 trim ranges and two battery sizes – as soon as the entry-level variations be a part of the vary in 2024 costs will begin from a extremely reasonably priced £26,195.

How does it look?

The BYD Dolphin strikes a passable pose – principally, it seems to be lots like some other mid-sized hatchback, which for a few years gave the impression to be one thing EVs should not do. We’re instructed that the rounded styling represents “the sleek traces of a leaping dolphin.” We’re undecided about that, however the visuals, notably the robust arrowhead-like creases on the flanks, are very competently achieved. The rear mild signature, an LED operating proper throughout the flank, strikes a particular notice too.  

It’s a sensible profile too – the automotive boasts a protracted wheelbase with quick overhangs, a facet impact of the automotive’s platform and its intelligent battery pack, and an attribute that interprets to spectacular inside house.

We like: Basic exterior styling is pleasingly regular
We don’t like: ‘Construct Your Desires’ written throughout the rear – however that is now a ‘no price possibility’

What are the specs like?

Launch variations of the Dolphin are on provide within the two prime trim ranges, Consolation and Design, and from early in 2024 they are going to be joined by two decrease trims dubbed Energetic and Enhance (A, B, C, D, get it?). And as we’ll element shortly the vary encompasses three motor scores and two battery sizes.

Costs begin from about £26K for the Energetic, which is a head-turning worth, providing true affordability within the EV market – even the costliest Design variant is cheaper than the entry fashions of some European rivals. And the low worth doesn’t come on the expense of normal gear – the listing consists of the type of extras you don’t normally discover in base variations.

The entrance seats have electrical adjustment, for instance, whereas there are additionally auto headlights, keyless entry and begin, the listing goes on… Even the large rotatable touchscreen and ‘Car to Load’ characteristic that enables the automotive battery for use to cost an exterior electrical machine are commonplace throughout the vary.  

The security bundle is especially spectacular, which has allowed the Dolphin to earn the utmost five-star score from Euro NCAP with a formidable set of scores throughout the board. It affords a complete suite of lively security aids, together with ahead collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, rear collision warning, rear cross-traffic alert and rear cross-traffic brake, lane departure prevention and emergency lane-keeping help.

Different highlights of the excellent specification throughout the vary embrace adaptive cruise management, a panoramic digital camera and extra aids together with blind spot monitoring, hill descent management and visitors signal recognition.

The Enhance specification provides £1,000 to the worth which pays for a extra highly effective motor, 17-inch wheels and a multi-link rear suspension. Lastly, we now have the 2 prime ranges and the primary variations on sale, Consolation and Design which use probably the most highly effective motor and battery.

The Consolation prices a smidge over £30K and good points heated entrance seats and an 11kW onboard charger in comparison with the 7kW of the decrease trims, whereas for an additional £1,500 the range-topper comes with a panoramic roof, privateness glass within the rear seats, wi-fi smartphone charging and vehicle-to-load.  

We like: Breadth of specification, particularly security aids
We don’t like: Entry-level variations not obtainable at launch

What’s it like inside?

The optimistic impressions given off by the Dolphin proceed as soon as one steps inside. It’s effectively put along with the soft-touch surfaces feeling extra upmarket than some patrons would possibly anticipate.

The color scheme is fascinating – BYD arrived within the UK with some fairly outlandish color mixtures (ooh, pink…) however has reacted shortly to buyer suggestions, in an identical vein to placing the model’s full identify throughout the again of the boot. From November 2023 manufacturing the usual inside end would be the extra refined black that UK patrons are likely to want.

The inside of the primary BYD, the Atto 3, was we have been instructed impressed by gymnasium gear and the Dolphin has its personal theme, its inside apparently boasting aquatic parts, probably the most notable being the inside door handles which we’re instructed are formed to signify dolphin fins… it’s a little bit extra standard although – no door bins masquerading as playable guitar strings for instance.

The controls are logically laid out and pretty minimalist – an important many capabilities are managed by means of the laptop-sized infotainment display which will be rotated from panorama to vertical format. Opinions of this are blended (our reviewer considers vertical wise, particularly when utilizing sat nav maps, whereas his colleague on the launch drive occasion couldn’t see the purpose), however one difficulty is the display’s dimension – in vertical format, it critically intrudes into the motive force’s sight view.

By the best way, there are a few methods of rotating stated display – a button on the display itself, or asking BYD’s voice assistant. Now we didn’t have unwarranted success with this, saying “Hey BYD” eliciting a response to this reviewer however the Yorkshire accent of his colleague producing solely ignorance… 

BYD says that the patented design of its Blade battery pack frees up extra space on the insides and this turns into apparent when sitting within the again seat – the room, each forward of the legs and above the top, is surprisingly beneficiant for a automotive of the scale.

At first look, the boot seems small by comparability, but it surely does have a second compartment beneath the ground, sufficiently big to retailer the charging cables and different objects you would possibly need to disguise away. The official figures are 345 litres, rising to 1,310 with the seats folded – that’s satisfactory for a supermini, although some rivals provide extra.

We like: A number of individuals room, particularly within the again
We don’t like: Boot house could possibly be greater

Below the bonnet

As is typical with EVs, the Dolphin’s powertrain is slim. The electrical motor is mounted between the entrance wheels and the battery pack sits beneath the cabin ground, including to the automotive’s rigidity.

Just like the Atto 3 the Dolphin employs BYD’s cobalt-free Blade battery pack.  Its design permits a lot denser packaging of the battery cells and as these are of Lithium Iron-Phosphate (LFP) they’re stated to be a lot safer – BYD delights in displaying video exams of the pack involving urgent nails into them and operating over them with heavy vehicles.

There are two battery sizes on provide and three motor choices. The higher two trim ranges include the bigger of the 2 batteries, a 60kWh unit promising a WLTP-certified vary between prices of 265 miles and powering the 204hp motor. It will ship the Dolphin by means of 62mph from relaxation in seven seconds – not so a few years in the past such tempo would see GTi or comparable badges added to the automotive.  Consolation and Design fashions may also be charged at charges as much as 88 kW, boosting the battery from 30 to 80% in half an hour.

The 2 decrease trim variations becoming a member of the vary within the first quarter of 2024 have a 45kWh LFP battery, its estimated vary more likely to be across the 190 to 210-mile mark relying on the motor – the bottom Energetic mannequin will get a 95hp unit whereas the Enhance just about doubles its energy to 176hp. We’ve but to see efficiency or charging figures for these vehicles.

One different notable facet of the Dolphin is its standard-fit warmth pump – this intelligent system makes use of all of the residual warmth it may possibly discover to make the automotive’s batteries extra environment friendly. What this implies in easy phrases is that the drop-off in vary the common EV proprietor expects in chilly winter circumstances is way much less of a problem if you’re driving a BYD. 

How does it drive?

The Dolphin eases away and accelerates with all of the just about silent smoothness that’s now anticipated of an EV. At motorway speeds, there’s audible wind noise, which with an EV turns into extra noticeable as a result of there’s no engine to drown it out.

The driving expertise is simple, if uninvolving. There’s little really feel by means of the steering wheel however, even with its snappy acceleration, the Dolphin isn’t the type of automotive you’d think about enthusiastically hustling alongside a challengingly twisty nation route.

Experience consolation is nice, with solely probably the most broken of highway surfaces unsettling the automotive, although the multi-link suspension little question helps with this – we’re not satisfied the entry-level torsion bar might be so forgiving. 

Anybody attempting out the BYD who has beforehand pushed an EV will discover one different main distinction – there’s no regenerative braking to talk of. The drivetrain does embrace some regeneration, however to not a stage one can really feel behind the wheel. Maybe it’s one thing to do with the make-up of the battery pack, however that is undoubtedly not a automotive one can drive on a single pedal like many different electrics.

We like: Unfussed progress and stage of experience consolation
We don’t like: Wind noise at pace


There’s lots to love concerning the BYD Dolphin. It’s potent sufficient for a mainstream automotive, it tackles a lot of the UK’s less-than-perfect highway surfaces with out difficulty, it seems to be okay inside and outside and it comes with a protracted listing of apparatus.

Sure, it has its quirks, however these idiosyncracies are nothing that considerably impacts one’s life with the automotive. And you then bear in mind simply how a lot you’ll pay for all of this, at which level the Dolphin turns into a automotive that basically opens up EV motoring to a a lot wider potential viewers.

Dolphin highlights

  • Reasonably priced for an EV
  • High quality inside
  • A number of inside house
  • Protected battery format

Dolphin lowlights

  • Wind noise at pace
  • Aggressive security assistants
  • Boot not greatest
  • Not many sellers but

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Key specs

Mannequin examined: BYD Dolphin Design
Value (as examined): £31,695
Motor unit: 150kW, 60kWh battery
Energy: 176 hp

Prime pace: 99 mph
0-60 mph: 7.0 seconds
Battery vary: 265 miles (WLTP mixed)
Euro NCAP security score: 5 stars (October 2023)
TCE Skilled Score: 58% (as of November 2023)

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