First Drive Review: BYD Dolphin

Independent review by Chris Russon

5-minute read

BYD Dolphin Exterior Front Side

First Drive: BYD Dolphin

Explore the key features of the BYD Dolphin in our expert first drive review

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The BYD Dolphin is an attractive and well-equipped electric vehicle, providing a competitive, affordable option to other EVs on the market.


  • Good handling
  • High quality materials
  • Modern design
  • Packed with technology
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EV giant BYD is showing its mettle with the arrival of its Dolphin mid-sized hatchback in the UK.

It is the Chinese company’s second model to go on sale in Britain following the launch of the ATTO 3 SUV earlier in 2023 and forms part of BYD’s huge global expansion plans.

In fact, the Dolphin has the potential to be a game changer in the electric market.

Come next year, BYD will be fitting the new model with a less powerful battery and that version will be priced from £26,195 – almost a bargain among the current crop of EVs.

However, the first Dolphins to come to Britain will be in the higher specification which we drove, with a 60.4kWh battery that gives it greater range.

Range and Performance

The Dolphin is slightly longer than the likes of a Vauxhall Corsa Electric and uses BYD’s home-grown Blade battery to give it a full charge range of up to 265 miles.

For an electric car in this class that is an impressive distance and having just put the Dolphin through its paces we have no reason to doubt that.

Recharging – done via a port on the front off-side wing – can be done from 30 to 80 percent capacity in under half-an-hour from a fast charger, while a full charge from a home charger takes a little over six hours.

The Dolphin we sampled was the range-topping Design version priced from £31,695 – some £1,500 more than the Comfort model BYD which is also offered with the 60.4kWh battery.

Top speed of the Design model is 99mph with a 0 to 62mph acceleration time of 7.0 seconds and on the road the Dolphin is brisk enough with good ride and handling characteristics.

Four drive modes are available – eco, sport, normal, and snow – which adjust the car accordingly giving plenty of options.

On the road, the Dolphin goes about its business in an unflustered manner. There is minimal road noise and little disruption when it comes to poor surfaces.
Chris Russon

All versions of the Dolphin come with a heat pump which helps to improve the thermal efficiency of the battery by up to 15 percent in the winter – and BYD says the Blade battery is designed to overcome the shortcomings of other EVs which can see a marked drop in range in cold weather.

Equipment and Technology

All versions of the Dolphin are well-equipped and come with a range of safety aids including forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, rear collision warning, rear cross traffic alert and rear cross traffic brake, lane departure prevention and emergency lane keeping assist as well as adaptive cruise control and an intelligent cruise control system.

There is also blind spot detection, electronic stability control, traction control, hill descent control, automatic vehicle hold and traffic sign recognition with intelligent speed limit control.

The Design trim also adds a panoramic sunroof, privacy glass in the rear and wireless phone charging as well as a vehicle-to-load facility which allows the car to be used to power external devices.

All models feature a 12.8-inch touchscreen in the centre of the dashboard, which can rotate from horizontal to vertical at the touch of a button and gives a splendid view of maps and other functions.

A 5.0-inch TFT instrument panel sits on top of the steering binnacle and provides the necessary information about range, battery charge, and speed.

Below the central screen is a bank of seven touch controls for the heated rear window, hazard warning lights, drive modes and the like. At the end of this panel are the gear selector and the volume control for the audio.

The centre console is another stylish affair that includes cupholders, controls for the parking brake and auto hold function and the traction setting.

Design and Practicality

As the first model in BYD’s new Ocean series, the Dolphin’s styling inside and out has been inspired by the marine mammal, with plenty of curves in the design. There is even a wave pattern in the rear light signature.

The car measures 4.29 metres long, 1.77 metres wide and 1.57 metres high with a 2.7 metre wheelbase giving a good amount of space inside.

Boot capacity ranges from 345 litres to a maximum of 1,310 litres, which is bigger than most of its EV rivals.

The interior is a classy affair with artificial leather in the trim and upholstery and a two-tone colour scheme which echoes the exterior finish. There is also a two-tone colour effect on the wheels, which is another stylish touch.

With the centre console being such a dominant feature of any car interior, the BYD designers should be congratulated for what they have achieved.

Not only does it set off the cabin in fine fashion, it is also practical, providing a good amount of storage space between the front seats.

In fact, there are more than 20 storage spots on board as well as USB ports front and rear and a good amount of legroom in the rear for a car of such proportions.


In every way, the Dolphin has plenty of potential and is good enough to send warning signs to European brands that Chinese EVs can be serious alternatives.

All come with a 6-year, 93,750 mile overall warranty with the motor covered for eight years. The battery is guaranteed for eight years and 125,000 miles.

The Dolphin range will be completed next year with the arrival of Active and Boost trims fitted with 44.9kWh batteries, giving them anticipated ranges of 211 and 193 miles respectively.

Final performance details are still to be confirmed, but with prices starting £5,500 cheaper than the Design model, it could become the car that puts BYD on the map.

Prices correct at time of writing, 19/09/2023.