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BYD Dolphin review

2023 onwards (change model)
Parkers overall rating: 3.6 out of 53.6
” Odd name, decent car. “

At a glance

Price new £26,195 - £31,695
Used prices £19,604 - £25,520
Road tax cost £0
Insurance group 33
Get an insurance quote with Mustard logo
Fuel economy 3.9 miles/kWh
Range 261 miles
Miles per pound 6.2 - 11.5
View full specs for a specific version

Available fuel types

Fully electric

Pros & cons

  • Terrific value and efficiency
  • Strong acceleration
  • Light, comfortable and spacious interior
  • Boot not the largest
  • Could be more fun to drive
  • Over-eager driver assist systems

Written by Alan Taylor-Jones Published: 13 September 2023 Updated: 13 September 2023


Not all electric cars will break the bank, and the BYD Dolphin is a perfect example. You might not be familiar with the brand at the moment, but they’re the world’s largest supplier of electric vehicles. Don’t just think that means cars and vans, BYD even has a rail transport division…

The Dolphin is almost identical to the MG 4 in terms of size, but adopts a more upright position similar to the Volkswagen ID.3 or Cupra Born. Thanks to a starting price of around £25,000 it’ll also be a rival for smaller EVs such as the Fiat 500 Electric.

Yet the Dolphin offers a competitive range thanks to an efficient powertrain, loads of equipment and interior space to rival cars from two classes above. And thanks to BYD’s self-contained supply chain – it makes almost every component itself, including the ever-scarce semiconductors – the Dolphin will remain largely unaffected by ongoing issues that push lead times ever longer for some of its popular rivals.

What’s it like inside?

The BYD Dolphin is styled like no other EV on the inside, which has plus and minus points. The interior is dominated by a large 12.8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, which rotates between portrait and landscape orientations at the touch of a button – a somewhat unnecessary party piece, but definitely showy. The included Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring is only compatible with landscape mode, though.

BYD Dolphin dash
Materials are good, design an acquired taste.

The infotainment is swift to respond and the screen is bright and clear, but the software could use some tweaking before it’s up to the same level as the systems in some rivals, such as the Kia Niro EV. The Dolphin’s system is responsive enough, but the range of different texts, colours and busy menus makes it harder to use than the best in class. It is, however, far better than the MG 4’s letterbox-shaped screen with its tiny onscreen buttons and VTech (not VTEC) graphics.

The dashboard can never be accused of being drab, while the mix of faux leather and hard but nicely textured plastics works. Most of the materials higher up feel very good, and most of the touchpoints are all sturdy. There’s a row of slightly flimsy switchgear under the infotainment screen which controls some vital functions – always nice to have – and you’ll find a wireless charging pad as well as USB sockets in the centre console.

There are some cheaper materials lower down, but they feel out of the way for the most part. And you even get door handles modelled after a dolphin’s flipper. How cute. Overall, it feels plusher than an MG 4, Ora Funky Cat and even a Volkswagen ID.3, although the design might be a bit out there for some.

BYD Dolphin interior rear
Rear seat space is a Dolphin strong point.

What’s even more impressive than the dashboard is the amount of space on offer. If you were disappointed by the slightly tight rear legroom of an MG 4 then the BYD Dolphin is for you, as we found two passengers well over six feet tall could sit behind similarly lanky individuals with room to spare. A low windowline and glass roof (on top-spec models) also ensures the cabin doesn’t feel dark or claustrophobic, helped by lots of light-coloured materials.

That space in the back seat does come at the expense of the boot. While at 345 litres it’s not bad in overall capacity and notably larger than the Vauxhall Corsa Electric or Renault Zoe, it’s a tall rather than long space and divided by a movable floor. A similarly sized Cupra Born or Volkswagen ID.3 both have bigger boots, but then they are significantly pricier.

BYD Dolphin motors and batteries

The Dolphin will come equipped with just one motor and battery combination at the outset. It’s a 60kWh battery paired to a 204hp motor driving the front wheels. It dispatches the 0-62mph sprint in 7.0 seconds and will have a top speed of 99mph.

BYD Dolphin driver's display
Driver’s display has sharp graphics, but isn’t the easiest to read at a glance.

A smaller 45kWh battery option will be introduced early in 2024. This will be available with either a 95hp or 176hp motor. BYD hasn’t yet announced performance figures for these.

Range and charging

BYD claims a maximum range of 265 miles on the WLTP cycle for the 60kWh battery, which is competitive with most of its rivals – it’s comfortably in between the 218 and 281 miles offered by the standard and Long Range MG 4s, for example. A VW ID.3 does manage well over 300 miles in its longest-range form, though.

In the real world we managed an impressive 243 miles before the car was totally flat. That is below the claim, but our route was predominantly motorways and fast flowing A roads. Efficiency is impressive at nearly 4.0 miles per kWh, although performance is severely limited when you drop below 5% battery.

BYD Dolphin boot
The 345-litre boot isn’t huge, but it’s better than most EVs at this price.

Opt for a 45kWh model and range should be around 200 miles, although it’s yet to be WLTP tested. All Dolphins do get a heat pump as standard, though, which is a great inclusion – it should mean the Dolphin retains more of its range in winter. With a clever integrated motor and control system, it’s capable of impressive efficiency on the road.

The Dolphin does somewhat fall down when it comes to fast charging. Its maximum charge rate is just 88kW, whereas all of its main rivals can charge at well over 100kW. BYD says it’ll charge from 30-80% in 29 minutes, which seems acceptable until you remember competitors claim similar times starting at 10%. 45kWh models are only capable of 60kW but take a minute less to charge.

Home charging is well catered for, though, and if you have a three-phase electricity supply the Dolphin can charge at 11kW.

What’s it like to drive?

So far we’ve only driven the 204hp long range model, finding its acceleration to be rather brisk. According to the onboard acceleration timer, our Dolphin test car managed 0-62mph in just 6.7 seconds, a figure that feels entirely believable to our finely tuned road testers. It feels like power is pegged back slightly off the line to avoid too much wheelspin, but on the move it feels junior hot hatch fast with similar levels of torque steer, too. Watch out Ford Fiesta ST.

BYD Dolphin front cornering
Accelerate hard and you’ll feel the steering wheel writhing in your hands.

Comfort is the Dolphin’s forte, with soft suspension soaking up potholes and speed bumps well. It can float a little at speed and a series of bumps can unsettle the car, but not worryingly so. Overall, it’s a little more supple than an MG 4 and much cushier than a Cupra Born or MINI Electric. An ID.3 offers better body control and is almost as supple, though.

Coarser surfaces do generate some roar from the tyres, but not enough to prevent conversation at sensible levels, while wind and motor noise is impressively well contained. We also need to mention the brake pedal for its predictable responses, something that’s not a given even on expensive EVs.

It’s not all good news, though. As impressive as the list of standard driver aids is, the Dolphin always seems to be making some sort of warning noise. Unfortunately you soon tune out to a lot of them, not good as the indicators sound very very similar. Even worse, the lane departure and emergency steering assist are far too keen, steering you towards oncoming traffic if you get too close to the verge.

BYD Dolphin rear cornering
Dolphin is tuned for comfort, not cornering.

As for the handling, it’s tidy enough at speeds most people will ever want to go. Body roll isn’t too horrific, there’s decent grip and it feels stable. The stability control is quick to intervene should you start to slip and isn’t too sudden, either. Even so, a Born or MG 4 feel less ragged when pushed hard, the Dolphin preferring a more sensible pace.

What else should I know?

Four trims will be offered with the Dolphin. Active starts at just over £25k but gets the smallest battery, least powerful motor and simple rear suspension. Boost adds power and equipment, while Comfort adds more toys plus the big battery and motor for around £30k. Top Design trim is mainly styling tweaks, so we’d stick to Comfort and save around £1500.

Click through to the next page to see our verdict on the BYD Dolphin.

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