Read Caroline’s BYD Dolphin review for everything you need to know about buying BYD’s new compact electric hatchback in Ireland.

The BYD Dolphin is one of the most anticipated new cars to arrive in Ireland in 2024 because it’s one of the most budget-friendly EVs to go on sale in quite a while.

EVs have secured themselves a reputation thus far of being expensive, with many models pricing themselves above their petrol and diesel counterparts.

The tide is turning with many brands now cutting prices to entice buyers among the backdrop of a slowing EV market and in an effort to fend off the very plausible threat from new Chinese car brands – just like BYD.

The BYD Dolphin has a starting price of just €25,570 for the Dolphin 44.9kWh with up to 340 km (WLTP) range and from €29,318 for the Dolphin 60.4kWh with up to 427 km (WLTP).

And beyond the quirky name, the Dolphin is a cheerful enough companion for the road.

Let’s take a closer look.

The BYD Dolphin is on sale now
The BYD Dolphin is on sale now

What’s so special about the BYD Dolphin?

The Dolphin is pitched as a compact hatchback to take on the popular MG4 and Volkswagen ID.3. It’s part of BYD’s ‘Ocean Series’, just like the newly launched BYD Seal four-door saloon.

It has a straightforward, practical shape as opposed to the sleeker and sportier MG and ID.3. But BYD clearly tried to stamp some trendy design touches on it like the attractive colour palette, contrasting roof, alloy wheels with coloured inserts, LED lighting and a smart full-width light bar at the rear.

The Dolphin uses BYD’s very own ‘Blade Battery’, which is a lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery as opposed to the lithium ion batteries we’ve heard a lot about to date. They are cheaper to make and do without precious metals like cobalt and nickel, which is an advantage.

It will seat five and there is a tremendous amount of legroom in the back seat. Built on a bespoke electric vehicle platform, there is a flat floor the full width – though it’s still a compact car so it’s most comfortable for two back there.

At 345 litres, the boot is a little disappointing though it will be perfectly adequate for some. It’s smaller than the boot in the MG4 and ID.3, which may limit its appeal for family buyers.

The cabin of the new Dolphin
The cabin of the new Dolphin

Inside the BYD Dolphin

The Dolphin’s cabin is full of character. It’s a really fun interior with a strong aquatic theme – the door handles are shaped like a dolphin’s flipper and there’s a curved finish to the dashboard that does resemble waves on the sea.

The Design model gets a beautiful coloured interior – dark blue in my test car with some red stitching in the steering wheel and around the circular air vents.

There are cheaper hard plastics in places but they are well-disguised among lots of soft touch materials in the dashboard and doors. The vegan leather seats with integrated headrests are another highlight.

The digital technology on board is a little hit and miss. There is a small digital instrument cluster behind the steering wheel, yet the icons are small and it appears quite cluttered.

An impressive 12.8-inch rotatable touchscreen is well-placed in the centre of the dash. It looks great with crisp graphics yet simple tasks like adjusting the fan speed require a few prods of the screen if you are using Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, which still require a cable to connect.

The new BYD Dolphin
The Dolphin is a cheerful companion for the road

Otherwise it’s an exceptionally well-equipped car with standard features including lots of safety and driver assistance features, 360-degree camera, heated front seats with power adjustment and automatic lights with high beam assist.

The Design model adds wireless smartphone charging and a panoramic glass roof.

Driving the Dolphin

The Dolphin 60.4kWh uses a 204hp motor to send power to the front wheels. It’s nippy enough and there’s no problem picking up speed quickly to join motorways or for overtaking manoeuvres.

It’s not the most exciting car to drive in the world with quite woolly steering but it’s easy to place on the road and keep in lane on the motorway. It feels solid and comfortable on the road though it does get quite noisy at high speeds on the motorway, which might limit its appeal as a car for long commutes. A Volkswagen ID.3 is more refined in this manner.

Rear seating in the Dolphin
Rear seating in the Dolphin

There is a heat pump to improve the efficiency of the battery in cold weather and two ‘strengths’ possible of regenerative braking. Overall efficiency is good with my average sitting at about 16.3kWh per 100 kilometres during my time with the car. This put me on track for a real world driving range of about 370 kilometres between battery charges.

When it does come to charging, the Dolphin has an 11kW onboard AC charger. Fast charging rates are less impressive at 88kW compared to key rivals but it will still manage to go from 10-80% in 40 minutes.

Did you like it?

Beyond the sedate looks, the Dolphin is a cheerful car that will make a perfect family runabout. For the price, it has a very nice interior that makes rivals appear a bit dull and sparse. It’s exceptionally well-equipped and while the screen is not without its foibles, overall this is a pleasant car to be behind the wheel of. It ticks the box for comfort without coming close to much excitement behind the wheel, yet it offers good reliable range. In short, the BYD Dolphin is a perfectly capable compact electric hatchback. If you’re interested in going electric and don’t want to spend a huge amount of money, it’s a great option.

The Dolphin is one of the best value EVs on the market in Ireland
The Dolphin is one of the best value EVs on the market in Ireland

Model tested: BYD Dolphin Design
Price: 
€31,192
Battery:
60.4Wh
Range: 427 kilometres (WLTP)
Power: 204 hp
Torque: 310 Nm
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 7 seconds
Motor Tax: 
€120 per year

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Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes, Juror for Irish Car of the Year