TRIED & TESTED
There are fewer quirks than the Atto3 in this BYD, but the value-for-money offer remains, says John Challen
TRIED & TESTED
There are fewer quirks than the Atto3 in this BYD, but the value for money offer remains, says John Challen
There’s been a great deal written recently about Chinese automotive manufacturers coming into the UK market and what impact they will have (and their motivations for being here). Depending on where you stand, you might spend hours down various internet rabbit holes but, at the end of the day, decisions often come down to costs. And, in the case of the BYD Dolphin, a starting price of £26,195 (the range tops out at £31,695) means there is a lot to tempt drivers, not least the generous standard specification and competitive driving ranges.
A Dolphin won’t be the choice for every driver but, for those who feel like turning Chinese, the quality of car won’t be a downgrade. Compared with the Atto 3 – with its guitar string door bin supports – there are less unconventional touches. Although there is still enough quirk left in for fin-shaped door handles, which are actually very ergonomic. There is also plenty of room, front and rear, while two choices of battery – BYD’s own Blade item already seen on the Atto 3 – will cover the demands of a lot of drivers.
To come in Q1 2024 will be a 44.9kWh unit that will offer up to 211 miles, but our first experience was with the 60.4kWh model, which has a WLTP-friendly 265-mile range. The lithium iron-phosphate (LFP) batteries claim to be safer than more conventional lithium-ion ones, with improved thermal stability and a more compact configuration.
We sampled the Comfort-spec Dolphin and, as an overall package, it really impressed. While it’s not the fastest or most engaging car on the market, it offers comfort, ample performance and a pleasant interior.
Which model is right for you?
There are four grades in the Dolphin lineup: Active; Boost; Comfort and Design, with a decent spec across the board. All models, for example, come with vegan leather seats and steering wheel, high beam assist, voice control, a 12.8-inch electric rotatable central touchscreen and a whole host of active safety features. Active and Boost use the smaller battery with 94hp and 174hp motors respectively and the other main difference is the wheel sizes (16-inch for Active and 17-inch for Boost).
Move up to Comfort and drivers get the larger battery, heated front seats, upgraded USB ports front and rear and a better audio system. For an extra £1,500 and the range-topping Design model, BYD adds in a panoramic roof, bespoke 17-inch alloys, privacy glass in the rear and wireless charging capabilities.
“There are four grades in the Dolphin lineup: Active; Boost; Comfort and Design, with a decent spec across the board”
What Dolphin lacks in handling, it makes up with decent ride quality, helped by the multi-link rear suspension and sensible tyre options. There is ample room for four adults, although the 345-litre boot might be a bit of a drawback for some drivers. But factor in the value for money on offer – with a level of quality that will surprise many – and BYD has a credible contender in this competitive sector.