Dolphin set to make

a splash

BYD Dolphin, 2023, front
BYD Dolphin, 2023, side
BYD Dolphin, 2023, rear
BYD Dolphin, 2023, tail
BYD Dolphin, 2023, nose
BYD Dolphin, 2023, interior
BYD Dolphin, 2023, interior
BYD Dolphin, 2023, steering wheel
BYD Dolphin, 2023, steering wheel
BYD Dolphin, 2023, instrument panel
BYD Dolphin, 2023, display screen
BYD Dolphin, 2023, display screen
BYD Dolphin, 2023, glovebox
BYD Dolphin, 2023, floating console
BYD Dolphin, 2023, prototype badge
BYD Dolphin, 2023, motor
BYD Dolphin, 2023, rear seats
BYD Dolphin, 2023, charging point
BYD Dolphin, 2023, boot
BYD Dolphin, 2023, boot
BYD Dolphin, 2023, centre console

BYD has just produced its five millionth electrified car and the automotive giant is planning to shake-up the UK EV market with a budget-priced zero emission supermini.

The Chinese company may be new to the British scene but it is out to make a mark with its new Dolphin EV which will be priced from £25,490 making it one of the most affordable electric vehicles currently on sale.

With a range of up to 265 miles, the Dolphin will be arriving in the next few months - and we have just got up close to a prototype model.

Measuring almost 4.3 metres long the Dolphin is of similar proportions to a Ford Fiesta and comes as a compact five-door, five-seater with a boot that stretches from 345 to 1,310 litres.

And to maximise usability, there's extra storage under the boot floor which can be used for the charging cables if necessary.

Four trim levels will be available - Active, Boost, Comfort and Design - with Active and Boost models having a 44.9 kWh battery and available from early in 2024.

Active versions have a 95ps motor while Boost cars get a more powerful 176ps unit and will be priced from £26,490.

Comfort and Design Dolphins have a larger 60.4kWh batteries and 204ps motors giving them more performance of 0 to 62mph in seven seconds with a maximum of 100mph.

That's the same power set up as BYD uses in the larger Atto 3 SUV which was launched in the UK earlier in 2023.

The Dolphin Comfort models are priced from £29,490 with the top grade Design specification having a panoramic sunroof, two-tone paint finishes, rear privacy glass and wireless phone charging coming in at £30,990.

The Dolphin is a good looking vehicle with sharp styling, clean lines and some sculpted touches.

Despite its compact proportions it has a long wheelbase of 2.7 metres and an uncluttered cabin which, for a car of such proportions, has created a good amount of space inside.

The instrumentation features a 12.8-inch central display screen that can rotate through 90 degrees from horizontal to vertical depending on preference and a smaller display on top of the steering column for the driver.

A ‘floating' centre console is a stylish touch and creates a good-sized storage area between the front seats while vegan leather is used in the upholstery.

There's a fair-sized glovebox on the front passenger side and four rotary vent nacelles across the dashboard while the Dolphin also has large storage bins in each of its four doors.

Gear selection is done from a control in the central bank of switches while the car is fitted with an electronic parking brake with an auto hold function which is operated from buttons further back in the centre console.

From the driving seat all is laid out simply and within easy reach and the soft-touch steering wheel was one of a number of upmarket features that set the Dolphin ahead of rivals.

BYD says that recharging from 30 to 80 per cent can be done in just under half-an-hour and all models are fitted with vehicle to load systems so that the battery can be used to operate external devices.

The Dolphin is also fitted with a heat pump for more efficient warming of the interior while the company says its Blade battery system has been designed to give added range of up to 15 per cent in cold weather conditions.

Standard safety features include 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 while the prototype Dolphin was also fitted with adaptive cruise control as well as a blind spot detection system, electronic stability control, traction control, hill decent control, automatic vehicle hold, and traffic sign recognition with intelligent speed limit control.

Since its formation in 1995 BYD has become a dominant force in the global production of rechargeable batteries and its rapid growth on the automotive scene has been something of a phenomenon - outselling even Tesla in the new wave if motoring.

With the Dolphin it is sending a warning shot to other car makers that affordable electric vehicles are a must if Government emission targets are to be met.

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