BYD Dolphin: A tough BEV deal to pass up

By THOMAS HUONG | 5 October 2023

THE BYD Dolphin five-door hatchback is the second all-electric vehicle in Malaysia from the Shenzhen-based automaker, and comes only seven months after Atto 3 sports utility vehicle (SUV) was launched in December 2022.

What's remarkable is that the Dolphin is presently the best value-for-money battery electric vehicle (BEV) here, with the entry-level 70kW/180Nm Dynamic Standard Range variant priced at RM100,530 and rated for travel up to 340km on a full charge.

The longer range and more powerful 150kW/310Nm Dolphin Premium Extended Range variant is priced at RM125,530 and rated for up to 427km. Prices are on the road without insurance.

Both travel ranges are based on the Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP) measurement process which is deemed closer to reality than the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) procedure.

As for its size, the Dolphin's 4,290mm length lies in the B-segment, although its 1,770mm width and 2,700mm wheelbase are similar to the C-segment Toyota Corolla.

At 1,570mm in height, it's also 135mm taller than the Corolla.

This translates into a cabin that is quite decently roomy for five adults, as we found out during a one-day drive programme organised by BYD Auto, which took us over 200km on a mix of highways and town roads in Kuala Lumpur and Sepang.

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Our test drive car was the entry-level Dynamic Standard Range variant, and we had five adults.

There's a power start-stop button on the dashboard, behind the steering wheel, and the tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel allowed us to get into a more comfortable driving position.

The dashboard is dominated by a large 12.8-inch touchscreen, which can rotate for portrait and landscape viewing choices, while a 5-inch digital instrument panel, behind the steering wheel, displays driving data.

A stack on the centre console has round jog-dials for air-conditioning options and gear selection (Park, Drive, Reverse and Neutral).

There are ample spaces to keep small items in the cabin, and while the rear luggage area has only 345 litres - this can increase to 1,310 litres with the rear seats down.

The drive started from JW Marriott Hotel Kuala Lumpur, and the first stop was a visit to Kong Zi Institute, Universiti Malaya which offers Mandarin language courses for beginners, and up to advanced levels.

Press members were given a tour and briefed on the non-profit education centre's background, role and achievements.

Lecturers and staff of Kong Zi Institute also took the opportunity to take the Dolphin cars for a quick spin.

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This was followed by a drive to KL Tower where we had a late lunch at the revolving restaurant Atmosphere 360.

After lunch, our next destination was nearly 90km away at Pantai Bagan Lalang, Sepang.

The weather was wet and chilly, and we drove at careful speeds on rain-soaked roads as we headed out of the city, before hitting higher speeds on the expressway as the skies cleared up.

After driving through the quaint town of Sungai Pelek, we finally reached the scenic and quiet beach at Pantai Bagan Lalang in the evening.

Our Dolphin unit's state of charge (SoC) had dropped to 59%, and the estimated remaining travel range was 239km, after having driven some 120km.

This meant there was more than enough power for the return drive to the heart of the city, which was less than 90km away.

We had kept the car in Normal drive mode most of the time, except for the few times when we wanted to experience the Sport or Economy mode.

Unlike some BEVs (battery electric vehicles), the Dolphin does not have a one-pedal drive mode, which allows drivers to accelerate and slow down, and even come to a complete stop, by using only the accelerator pedal.

The speed retardation effect is quite mild even when we chose High, instead of Standard, for the regenerative braking level which can be selected via the Energy Feedback Intensity option on the touchscreen menu.

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Our entry-level Dolphin Dynamic Standard Range delivers its maximum torque of 180Nm instantly, and we enjoyed its quick acceleration and linear power delivery especially when overtaking slower vehicles on the road.

The car was fitted with Linglong Eco Master tyres sized 195/60 R16.

Ride quality felt soft and comfort-oriented, and we were well-cushioned from road imperfections even when driving on a poorly maintained road in a plantation area in Sepang.

We were also impressed by how well insulated we were from wind and road noises, and this added to the high-quality comfort of the cabin, which has leather upholstery and lots of smooth plastics and soft-touch materials.

The six-speaker system produces crisp audio quality, and there are two USB-C and two USB-A charging ports, and touch-activated LED front and rear reading lights.

The Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with stop-and-go support (which automatically adjusts the distance from the vehicle ahead) is easily activated via steering wheel switches, while we found that Lane Departure Prevention can be pretty aggressive with steering intervention.

Parking the car is also made a lot easier with the 360-degree view monitor.

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At its RM100,530 price tag, the entry-level Dolphin Dynamic Standard Range variant certainly offers plenty of value with its barnful of premium comfort features and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS).

With direct current (DC) fast charging, both Dolphin variants' batteries can be charged from 30% to 80% in just under 30 minutes.

It's also worth noting that BYD Auto's Blade battery is billed as offering better safety, durability and performance.

BYD Auto says this cobalt-free lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery offers a higher level of safety than lithium-ion batteries and also ensures high power density and ultra-low energy consumption.

Sime Darby Beyond Auto, the sole distributor of BYD cars in Malaysia, provides Dolphin buyers with a 6-year or 150,000km (whichever is first) vehicle warranty, 8-year or 160,000km (whichever is first) Blade battery warranty, and 8-year or 150,000km (whichever is first) drive unit warranty for the motor, motor controller, DC assembly, high voltage and electric control assembly.

Dolphin buyers also get a 3-year or 60,000km (whichever is first) warranty for the multimedia system, shock absorbers, dust cover, bushing or gasket, wheel bearings, PM2.5 measuring instrument, AC/DC charging port assembly and USB charging port connector.

Another 4-year or 100,000km (whichever is first) warranty is given for vehicle lights, tyre pressure monitoring module, suspension and ball joint.

Sime Darby Beyond Auto is certainly going all-out to reassure Dolphin buyers when it comes to product quality, and the company also offers five service packages with durations of three, six and eight years priced from RM1,688 to RM12,888.

BYD Dolphin Dynamic (RM100,530 and 340km WLTP range)

- BYD Blade Battery: 44.9kWh, cobalt-free lithium iron phosphate (LFP)
- Rapid Charging Time (30% - 80%): 28 minutes (DC: 60kW)
- Maximum power: 70kW
- Maximum torque: 180Nm
- 0 to 100km/h sprint: 12.3 seconds
- Regenerative braking
- V2L (vehicle-to-load) function and discharge adapter
- Tilt and Telescopic steering
- Torsion beam rear
- 195/60 R16 tyres
- All-round disc brakes
- Synthetic leather seats
- Powered wing mirrors
- 5-inch digital instrument panel
- 12.8-inch rotating touchscreen
- Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, Voice assistant
- 6 speakers
- 2 x USB-A, 2 x USB-C, 12V socket
- LED headlights, daytime running lights
- Keyless entry and start
- Automatic air-conditioning
- Heat pump
- PM2.5 air filter
- Tyre repair kit
- 6 airbags
- Pretensioner on front and rear seat belts
- Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)
- 360-degree view monitor
- Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC)
- Automatic Emergency Braking System (AEB)
- Lane Departure Warning (LDW)
- Lane Keeping Support (LKS)
- Predictive Collision Warning (PCW)
- Rear Collision Warning (RCW)
- Blind Spot Detection (BSD)
- Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA)
- Rear Cross Traffic Brake (RCTB)
- Lane Departure Prevention (LDP)
- Emergency Lane Keeping Assist (ELKA)
- Lane Change Collision Warning (LCW)

BYD Dolphin Premium (RM125,530 and 427km WLTP range)
* Differences and extra kit

- BYD Blade Battery: 60.48kWh, cobalt-free lithium iron phosphate (LFP)
- Rapid Charging Time (30% - 80%): 29 minutes (DC: 80kW)
- Maximum power: 150kW
- Maximum torque: 310Nm
- 0 to 100km/h sprint: 7.0 seconds
- Multi-link rear
- 205/50 R17 tyres
- Panoramic glass roof
- Mobile phone wireless charging
- Ventilated and powered front seats
- LED rear side reading light
- 4-door window one touch up-down with anti-pinch
- Dual stage pretensioner on front seat belts
- Two-tone exterior colour options

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