BYD Dolphin reader test team

We asked five readers who are thinking of buying a small electric car to take a look around the BYD Dolphin. Find out how highly they rated it...

BYD Dolphin reader test team

The BYD Dolphin may be a small electric car, but it’s a big model for Chinese brand BYD, which is pinning its hopes on cracking the UK car market with this value-focussed hatchback. 

It’s the second model to be launched by the brand in the UK; the first was the Atto 3, a larger pure electric SUV. But the Dolphin, which is larger than most small hatchbacks and similar in size to the Volkswagen ID 3, is likely to be the bigger seller. 

The Dolphin is likely to be very affordable by electric car standards. The range is expected to start at £26,500 for versions with a 45kW battery, undercutting the Peugeot e-208, Vauxhall Corsa Electric and even the MG 4, which is our favourite small electric car. Models with a larger 60kW battery are likely to be priced from £33,500. 

Buyers can also expect a generously equipped interior. Standard kit on higher spec versions will include heated seats, a panoramic glass sunroof, all-round cameras and vegan leather upholstery. As in the Atto 3, the infotainment screen can be rotated from portrait to landscape orientation. 

We invited a group of readers to an exclusive preview of the Dolphin to find out what they think of it and if they would consider one as their next car. 

Nigel Perdue

BYD Dolphin reader test team

Age 60 

Job Retired 

Drives Peugeot 208 and Skoda Octavia vRS Estate

“With my last few cars, I’ve steadily been downsizing from a Jaguar F-Pace, and the next logical step for me and my partner is to move to a smaller fully electric vehicle to replace both of our existing cars.

“First impressions of the Dolphin are very good; it looks well built and the exterior styling is attractive. The two- tone paintwork works well, and the black patterned sections on the rear pillars provide a defining line between the roof and the sides of the car.

“I like the interior design, too. It looks very premium and there are nice details like the round air vents, which look fab. There is a lot of gloss black, though; this might be prone to getting covered in fingerprints.

“The car looks like it will be great value for money if it costs less than £30,000 and comes with a lot of premium equipment.

“My only reservation is that we have two university-age sons, who are both more than 6ft tall, and I’m concerned that rear head room wouldn’t be good enough for them. There is a bulge just behind the rear of the panoramic glass roof, plus they might find it hard to squeeze their feet under the front seats.” 

Star rating 5

Russ Barnes

BYD Dolphin reader test team

Age 62 

Job Self- employed 

Drives Mini Countryman

“I wanted to see the Dolphin because I’m looking for a small, well-priced electric car to replace my Mini Countryman. From what I’ve seen, it’s a great car. The seats are very comfortable and the interior is roomier than I was expecting, both front and rear.

“The controls are easy to use, and I like having the gear selector on the centre console, where it’s easy to reach. It’s also sensible that the instrument panel moves with the steering wheel when you adjust it, because it means you won’t obscure it.

“Although UK prices haven’t been confirmed yet, it sounds like it will undercut most rivals. It’s also likely to come with so much standard equipment that you won’t need any extras.

“The only disappointment for me is that you can’t have wireless connectivity for Apple CarPlay. I use this feature a lot and I’d rather not have a cable hanging around all the time.

“I’ve been looking at the Smart #1, but the Dolphin seems bigger and better kitted out, so it’s moved up to the top spot for my next car.

“I’ll have to wait and see how well it drives, but the BYD Atto 3 is smooth and refined. If the Dolphin drives as well as that car, it’ll be great.” 

Star rating 5

Martin Shaw

BYD Dolphin reader test team

Age 53 

Job Chartered building surveyor 

Drives Audi A6

“I was thinking of going electric gradually, but now that many fully electric cars can do 300 miles or more between charges, I think I’ll skip the hybrid stage and just go for one of these to replace my Audi A6.

“The Dolphin’s official range of 265 miles should equate to at least 200 miles in real-world use, even in colder weather; that would be enough for me. It’s farther than many other small EVs can go.

“I’m pleasantly surprised by the interior quality of the Dolphin. Some parts, such as the interior door handles, look a bit flimsy, but overall it looks and feels very premium – and when you drive an Audi, it’s not that easy to be impressed by other brands.

“Interior space is good, with enough room for four adults. And the boot looks spacious enough for shopping, although it wouldn’t be big enough for our dog, so he’d have to ride on the back seat.

“The exterior styling is quite angular, which is attractive, and the rear end is reminiscent of the Volkswagen ID 3 – no bad thing.

“If the price is below £30,000, the Dolphin will be great value.” 

Star rating 4

George Konnou

BYD Dolphin reader test team

Age 72 

Job Retired 

Drives Skoda Enyaq iV

“I am very interested in the BYD brand, and I am keen to judge the quality of its products, having followed its progress online. I’m also interested in the level of customer service the brand will provide, because I’ve had some lengthy waits to have issues with my Skoda resolved by the dealer. 

 “I like the look of the Dolphin. It reminds me of the Volkswagen ID 3 and looks sportier than BYD’s Atto 3. 

“I have mobility issues and had to change my previous car, a Lexus IS200h, because I found it too difficult to get in and out of. However, the Dolphin has good access and the seats are comfortable. 

“It’s great that the Dolphin has a row of physical controls below the infotainment screen, because they’re more intuitive to use than doing things via a touchscreen. 

“The Dolphin’s boot might be a bit small for me, though; my wife likes gardening so we often carry large items. 

“And the maximum charging speed of 88kW sounds a bit slow compared with my Skoda Enyaq, which is the latest 80 model and can be charged at up to 125kW. But it’s useful that the charging port is on the front wing of the car; I wouldn’t have to reverse into bays to use public chargers.”

Star rating 4

Sheldon Russell

BYD Dolphin reader test team

Age 66 

Job Retired 

Drives Jaguar I-Pace and Vauxhall Corsa Electric

“I wanted to look at the Dolphin because it might be a viable alternative to my wife’s Vauxhall Corsa Electric

“The interior is beautifully finished, and I like the fact that there’s a row of controls under the touchscreen. Physical buttons are easier to use than icons on a touchscreen. 

“I also like the toggle switch that is the gear selector; it’s chunkier and feels more robust than the slim switch in our Corsa. 

“The digital instrument panel is attached to the top of the steering wheel, so it moves with it. This would work well for us, because my wife is only 5ft tall and finds it difficult to find a good steering wheel position that doesn’t obscure the instruments. 

“The driver’s seat also has plenty of adjustment so both my wife and I should be able to find good driving positions. The seat is comfier and better padded than those in many small cars, and the flat bottom on the steering wheel is a sensible design feature, because it means you’re less likely to knock your legs on it getting in and out. 

“My only criticism is that the boot isn’t as long as our Corsa’s. Although it’s deeper, I’m not sure it would be as practical.”

Star rating 4

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