The BYD Dolphin is currently the most value-for-money electric vehicle (EV) option in Malaysia if you’re looking for a new car under RM130,000. Earlier on, we test-drove the entry-level Dynamic Standard range model and it was a competent little EV that ticks all the right boxes. But what about the higher-end Premium Extended model which costs merely RM25,000 more? Here’s our first drive impression of the BYD Dolphin Premium Extended.
Premium Extended offers extra features typically found in more expensive cars
Stepping inside the BYD Dolphin Premium Extended model, it retains pretty much the same interior, which is a good thing. As mentioned in our Dynamic Standard range first drive experience, the Dolphin’s interior isn’t as over the top as the Atto 3. Most of the vital car functions are logically laid out and it still offers ample convenient storage areas under the centre console, in front of the cup holders and even on the floating tray underneath the rotating 12.8″ screen. It is equipped with USB-A and USB-C ports, and the central display also supports wired Apple Car Play (Android Auto coming soon). Another nice addition is the inclusion of a Qi Wireless charger at the centre armrest area.
For the Premium EV model, you get a large glass roof which comes with an electronically controlled sun shade. BYD’s voice commands are pretty responsive and you can just say “Hi BYD, close the blinds” to close the sunshade. Another nice premium upgrade is powered front seats instead of manual lever adjustments on the Dynamic Standard.
The Premium model also gets ventilated front seats which is great for our hot Malaysian weather. From our experience, the fans of the ventilated seats are louder than expected and it sounds as if the blowers are hidden in the headrest.
The Premium Extended is more fun to drive
Coming from the Dolphin Dynamic Standard, the Premium Extended is a pocket rocket in comparison. That’s to be expected considering it offers more than double the performance for not a lot of money. The Premium Extended gets a 150kW (201hp) motor with 310Nm of torque and it can get from 0-100km/h in 7 seconds versus the Dynamic Standard with a 70kW (94hp) motor with 180Nm torque.
201hp sounds a lot but BYD has toned down its power delivery from a standstill. Even with Sports mode selected, the power delivery is quite linear and you only get some wheel spin about a second in. It is as if the car is delaying its maximum power to confirm that you really want to go full throttle. Not exactly the instant kick you would experience from other EVs like the Hyundai Kona Electric or the XC40 and it seems to be done deliberately to prioritise passenger comfort. With the added power, overtaking at highway speeds is effortless and you can get to the national speed limit very quickly.
Similar to the Dynamic Standard, the BYD Dolphin’s Advanced Driver Assist System features are easy to activate from the steering wheel. The adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go support makes rush-hour journeys less stressful. My only complaint is the tiny instrument cluster in front, where the symbols are hard to read due to the bad text and background colour combination. It gets worse under direct sunlight as there’s no shade for the instrument cluster. Hopefully, the text colour issue can be fixed through a software update.
On top of that, the warning sounds and chimes can be annoying especially the ice cream truck sound it makes when the car is moving under 30km/h. This is meant for pedestrian warning and you can hear it from the inside during slow traffic. Fortunately, you can change the sound themes from the main touch screen.
The Dolphin Premium Extended suspension is slightly better
Another upgrade that the Premium Extended range has is a multi-link suspension for the rear instead of a torsion beam setup. Despite the change of suspension, this Dolphin still rides very soft and during our drive across the uneven stretch of DASH highway near Kota Damansara, the car does get very bouncy to the point that our cameraman starts to feel a little bit sick.
However, when driving around town at speeds below 80km/h, it does seem to feel slightly firmer and more planted than the standard version. That could be attributed to the heavier weight since the Premium Extended gets a 60.5kWh battery pack instead of the 44.9kWh unit on the Standard range model.
The Dolphin is clearly not meant to be driven fast around the corners and it works as a sensible city car designed for comfort. If you want something a bit more firmer that’s closer to a hot hatch, you might want to consider the Ora Good Cat or the Hyundai Kona instead. During our spirited drive to Elmina with an hour of idle time for video recording, our test unit showed an efficiency of 16.6kWh per 100km which is pretty decent. Hopefully, we can get a real-world efficiency test with a full review.
Should you get the BYD Dynamic Standard or Premium Extended?
If you’re still deciding on which BYD Dolphin to get, we recommend the Premium Extended if this is your only car and you want all the bells and whistles. With an on-the-road price of RM125,530 without insurance, the Premium Extended is only RM25,000 more than the Dynamic Standard range model.
On top of that, you’re also getting more than double the power output and a bigger battery. Essentially, BYD is using the motor and battery from the bigger Atto 3 Extended Range model in a smaller hatchback. With a 9-year loan tenure, the monthly instalment for the Premium Extended is roughly RM200 more than the Dynamic Standard.
If you plan to do long-distance drives, you would appreciate the Premium Extended’s bigger 60.5kWh battery which has a WLTP-rated range of 427km on a single charge. In addition, the Premium Extended range also supports a higher DC fast charging rate of up to 80kW (30-80% in 30 minutes), versus just 60kW (30-80% in 40 minutes) on the Dynamic Standard model. Unfortunately, both variants still get slower 7kW AC charging rate but it isn’t really an issue if you can charge overnight at home.
But if you’re considering the Dolphin as a second vehicle, the Dynamic Standard model will do just fine. The RM25,000 you save can go a long way to cover your charging costs for the next couple of years. It is still plenty quick and BYD doesn’t skimp on tech and safety features for the base model. It still gets six airbags, autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, lane-keeping assist and rear cross-traffic alert.
Stay tuned as we will be getting an opportunity for a long-term review soon. Do let us know if you have any questions on the BYD Dolphin.
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