ROAD TEST: BYD Dolphin – affordable electric motoring nailed!

I have seen some interesting names for cars over the 40 years of my writing career but perhaps the strangest was sampled a few weeks back. Chinese manufacturers are very strong on producing electric cars and manufacturer BYD, Build Your Dreams (yes, really!), has launched the Dolphin and has a second model to be launched shortly called the Seal.

What then of the Dolphin? It’s billed as a city car with the potential for longer runs if needed, and if you can find decent public charging on your chosen route here in the UK. Prices start at £26,195 for the lead-in model and estimated range varies from 193 miles to 265 miles depending on model and battery size. Four trim levels – Active, Boost, Comfort and Design – offer standard equipment that includes LED lights, auto lights, high beam assist, adaptive cruise control, powered front seats, powered and heated door mirrors and plenty of USB sockets. Move up the range and the already generous equipment moves accordingly with such additions as a panoramic roof, wireless charging, heated seats and rear privacy glass.

In terms of overall size, the Dolphin is a C-segment car, so think of Corolla and Golf to give you some idea of comparisons. It feels a well-bolted together car and although there are the inevitable hard plastics inside the car it manages to retain a look that doesn’t shout bargain basement. The faux leather seats are comfortable and supportive with power adjustment on both front seats. Space is pretty good too, and although the top-of-the-range version with panoramic roof might feel a little tighter my very tall colleague managed to easily enter and exit the rear seats.

On the road the initial rather loud motor hum is a surprise and something I haven’t experienced on other EVs, but it does soon fade to a more usual whisper quiet ride. There seems very little intrusion from wind and road noise which makes the Dolphin a refined drive. As with, seemingly, all new models it’s rather too techy even when more analogue solutions would prove easier. The air conditioning is a case in point where physical buttons work far easier than a touchscreen.

Overall though there’s little to criticise with the Dolphin, it looks and feels classy for its price, has very generous equipment levels and drives well. If you want affordable electric motoring then the Dolphin may well have it nailed.

Words by Mark Slack

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