the new darling among electric cars in Brazil

The BYD Dolphin was launched in June, quickly becoming an absolute sales success and causing a turnaround in the electric car segment in Brazil. After the first contact for initial impressions, we now spent a week with the new favorite on the market for a full evaluation.

Revealed to the world at the end of 2021, when it officially debuted in China, the BYD Dolphin inaugurated the platform dedicated to electric vehicles e-platform 3.0. Its launch represented a new phase for BYD, being followed by other pure electric models such as Yuan Plus, Seal and Seagull.

Impressions when driving BYD Dolphin (23) - side

Furthermore, the Dolphin is the first model in the “Ocean Family”, which represents a line of all-electric vehicles based on this platform, spanning a variety of segments and body styles, from subcompacts to midsize and large models.

With a design inspired by what BYD calls “Marine Aesthetics”, present in several elements on the outside and inside of the car, the Dolphin has a modern style with a mix of angular and rounded shapes, with the front characterized by the closed front grille, U-shaped elements and bumper with a more three-dimensional effect. The headlights, which are small and do not extend along the sides, are full LED and complemented by daytime running LEDs and an illuminated front grille.

Review - BYD Dolphin - (BR)

Despite its length of 4,125 mm, slightly smaller than a Chevrolet Onix, the BYD Dolphin has a wheelbase of 2,700 mm, the same as a Toyota Corolla, a medium sedan, which is clearly noticeable in the interior, whether at the front or for those in the back seat, one of the highlights of the car. The trunk is 250 liters (1,310 liters with the rear seat folded down) and does the job considering its purpose – it is smaller than the 345 liters of the version without the spare tire sold in some foreign markets.

Impressions when driving BYD Dolphin (35) - interior, front
Impressions when driving BYD Dolphin (37) - rear seat
Impressions when driving BYD Dolphin (32)

The interior follows its own style, which gives personality to the urban electric car, and stands out for its construction quality, above average for the segment. Highlights include the dashboard with wavy lines, multifunctional steering wheel with flat base, circular air vents, 5″ digital instrument panel and 12.8″ rotating multimedia screen. The door panels, handles, center console and other elements are pleasing in appearance, which clashes with the obvious.

Another breaking point for Dolphin is the debut of an equipment and technology package. Even in this entry-level version, the compact BYD comes standard with 6 airbags, multifunctional steering wheel, cruise control, automatic air conditioning, electronic parking brake, auto hold, 360º HD camera, tire pressure monitoring, automatic headlight switching, rain sensor and 16″ alloy wheels, among others.

Impressions when driving BYD Dolphin (39) - central screen

The habitability is very good, both due to the feeling of space and the general quality of the finishing items. The user experience in the multimedia center is good and there is Apple CarPlay mirroring (Android Auto only in a future update). As I have an Android cell phone, I shared the cell phone connection and used the native navigation system, which is very acceptable and accepts voice commands in Portuguese, although the ideal would be to be able to use Waze or Google Maps, for example.

Driving an urban electric car is very simple. Simply access the car with the key, press the start button and turn the discreet gear selector located at the top of the console, both next to the steering wheel.

In terms of ergonomics, good driver accommodation and steering wheel grip, as well as well-sized and comfortable seats. As the driving position is a little higher, it ends up favoring visibility. However, in this version the front seats have manual height adjustment and the steering wheel does not have depth adjustment, only height.

Impressions when driving BYD Dolphin (7) - flashlight
Impressions when driving BYD Dolphin (8) - flashlight
Impressions when driving BYD Dolphin (19) - front grille

During the evaluation week, we confirmed the good initial impressions, especially in urban, day-to-day use. The Dolphin is agile, practical and easy to drive in complicated city traffic. It doesn’t have a premium or sports car pretension, but the steering is well calibrated and the suspension is adjusted more towards comfort, but without disappointing in terms of dynamic behavior. That is, to a good extent.

In practice, it seems to deliver more than the declared 95 hp and 18.3 kgfm and also start faster than the 10.9 seconds for 0 to 100 km/h. This is because it is a rocket up to 60 km/h, with power delivery attenuating after that. There are three driving modes (Normal, Eco and Snow) and regenerative braking can be adjusted at two levels, but it still does not have “One Pedal” driving.

Impressions when driving BYD Dolphin (9) - movement

On the road it also goes well. It has the agility to follow the flow at cruising speeds of 120 km/h (or more) with good rebounds and more than enough strength on climbs. All of this with good acoustic insulation, an acceptable level of rolling and honest consumption.

And as with the vast majority of electric cars, consumption on the road is higher than in the city, but with variations: driving on single-lane roads between 80-100 km/h or on a highway at 120 km/h gives a good difference in energy expenditure.

Review - BYD Dolphin - (BR)

The BYD Dolphin is equipped with the well-known Blade batteries, developed by BYD itself. A pack of LFP (lithium iron phosphate) cells from 44,9 kWh liquids (46 kWh gross) that is positioned on the floor.

During the evaluation I took a short trip from the capital to the interior of São Paulo (SP). On the way, using Normal mode and with a speed between 110 – 120 km/h in the first half and 90 – 100 km/h in the second section, the average consumption was 6.43 km/kWh (15,5 kWh/100 km)which would give an autonomy of around 290 km with a full charge in this condition (road use).

Review - BYD Dolphin - (BR)

On the other hand, in its natural habitat, the city, Dolphin stood out in efficiency with averages of 8.3 km/kWh (12 kWh/100 km), or even better numbers, driving normally, without worrying about saving money. In this condition, it is possible to achieve a range of 375 km with a load, a great number, even more so considering the official Inmetro approval data (291 km).

And talking about charging, Dolphin comes with a portable charger that can be plugged into a household socket. Using a domestic socket, it charged at 1.4 kW at 110V or 2.8 kW at 220V. In public or 7 kW wallbox chargers, it charges at 6.6 kW, the maximum limit in AC, while in DC fast chargers it goes up to 60 kW of power, enough to recover 10-80% in about 35 minutes.

Impressions when driving BYD Dolphin (30) - front

The BYD Dolphin was launched for R$149,800, a price well below expectations for a car of this size and with this list of equipment and technology. The result was a success that exceeded all the brand’s expectations and sparked the beginning of a strong change in the electric car market in Brazil.

When it arrived, the Dolphin competed with smaller electric cars, such as the Renault Kwid E-Tech (R$ 146,900) and JAC e-JS1 (R$ 145,900), both inferior in construction (in addition to not being electric cars made on a dedicated platform) , technology, powertrain, battery and efficiency. Soon afterwards, the GWM presented the Ora 03, an electric car of the same size and with a very similar positioning at an equally competitive price: starting at R$ 150 thousand.

O Dolphin WORLD arrived in Brazil with a competitive price and bringing a proposal, list of equipment and technology that was previously unheard of for the segment. The trend of compact electric cars rose and, with broad public acceptance, created a new market reality. And while its main rival (also very promising) GWM Ora 03 does not arrive in stores, it calmly reigns as the best option in the segment.

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