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In-depth reviews

BYD Dolphin hatchback - Electric motor, drive & performance

“The BYD Dolphin is safe and secure to drive rather than being particularly fun on a winding road”

Carbuyer Rating

4.3 out of 5

Owners Rating
Be the first to review
Electric motor, drive & performance Rating

3.5 out of 5

​If you’re expecting a sports car, then you’d better look elsewhere. At this price point, an MG4 is much more fun to drive – not least due to its rear-wheel drive layout and sharper steering. 

But the BYD is still entertaining in its own right, with reasonable agility and a punchy 201bhp electric motor. The body does roll a bit through the corners, but the car felt assured through faster changes of direction – despite our launch model riding on tyres from a Chinese brand we’d not previously heard of. On this note, BYD has confirmed that all European cars will come fitted with softer Hankook rubber from Q4 2023; we’ve tried these in the UK and can say with confidence that this can be considered a positive change for British buyers – especially in wet conditions.

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The steering is light even in sport mode, and doesn’t offer much in the way of communication through your fingers. But the car is easy enough to place and always behaves exactly as you’d expect. Being too hasty with the accelerator pedal can cause the front wheels to spin, but in general, it’s a very easy car to drive.

That’s true in town, too; all cars come with 360-degree cameras, so parking isn’t an issue – though even without these we found visibility to be good. The car’s upright rear windows and short overhangs help in this regard.

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But you expect a car designed to rival petrol and electric models like the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa to be an accomplished urban runaround. What’s especially surprising is how adept the BYD is on the motorway – certainly with the most powerful motor, which allows for easy overtaking. 

It’s also comfortable (note: we’ve so far only driven a car with the more complex multilink rear suspension) and relatively quiet, with just a little wind noise around the door mirrors. There’s a maturity to the way the BYD Dolphin goes about its business – we reckon plenty of people will really like the way it drives.

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Our biggest complaint is that neither of the two settings for the regenerative braking system is particularly strong. There isn’t even a hint of one-pedal driving here – those who prefer this style of driving will need to look elsewhere.

0-62mph and top speed

In time, the BYD Dolphin will be available with three motor options. The least powerful of these will get just 93bhp (due early 2024), and while we’ve not yet driven one, we suspect it might feel quite lethargic on open roads outside of the urban environment this car was designed for.

Above this will sit a model with 174bhp – also due in Q1 next year. This should feel a good chunk quicker, though again we’ll need to wait a little longer before we offer any opinion on what it’s like to drive; no performance figures have been announced just yet. Both the 93bhp and 174bhp cars will get the smaller of the two battery options.

The top two trims both feature a bigger 60kWh battery, mated to a punchier 201bhp motor. These versions do 0-62mph in seven seconds, while top speed is capped at 100mph. It certainly feels quick in a straight line; a short delay when you put your foot down is quickly forgotten as the supermini builds momentum. Acceleration is linear, but the Dolphin is not as neck-snappingly fast as something like a Tesla or a Smart #1.

Model 

Power

0-62mph

Top speed

Active

93bhp

NA

NA

Boost

174bhp

NA

NA

Comfort, Design

201bhp

7.0s

100mph

Carbuyer notes

“The BYD Dolphin is a surprisingly accomplished urban runaround that’s also perfectly capable of the odd longer motorway trip. Though we’ve not yet driven it, we’d advise against the entry-level model – with just 93bhp, it’s likely to feel a little lethargic."

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Richard is a former editor of Carbuyer, as well as sister site DrivingElectric.com, and he's now Deputy Editor at Auto Express. Having spent a decade working in the automotive industry, he understands exactly what makes new car buyers tick.

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