2024 BYD Dolphin Sport electric ‘hot hatch’ announced for Australia, due next year

Chinese electric-car specialist BYD is the latest entrant into the burgeoning electric hot hatch market with a quicker, wide-body version of its Dolphin hatch.

The 2023 BYD Dolphin electric car from China is due to add a quicker 'Sport' flagship variant next year, with VW Polo GTI and Ford Fiesta ST acceleration on paper – and bold wide-body styling.

The initial two variants of the BYD Dolphin – which is Australia's new cheapest electric car, priced from $38,890 plus on-road costs – are due to be joined by a 'Sport' edition next year with quicker acceleration and more aggressive styling.

BYD says the Dolphin Sport limited edition will be limited to 1000 examples in Australia, priced from $49,990 plus on-road costs – $5100 more than the Dolphin Premium below it.

Orders are open now ahead of first deliveries due sometime in 2024, pending any delays. The standard Dolphin variants are due in showrooms in September or October 2023.

The Dolphin Sport is promised to offer 0-100km/h acceleration of less than seven seconds – compared to a 7.0-second claim for the 150kW Dolphin Premium – and "tuned sports performance".

It is unclear if the improved performance has been achieved with a more powerful electric motor, or by improving grip using new "sport performance tyres" that are claimed to feature on the Sport variant. The Sport is likely to remain front-wheel drive.

The sub-seven-second 0-100km/h claim is approaching the 6.8-second claim of a Volkswagen Polo GTI petrol hot hatch, or the 6.5 seconds of a Hyundai i20 N.

Other upgrades claimed by the Chinese electric-car maker include unique 17-inch blue and black wheels, and a "sport-styled body kit" with prominent black wheel-arch flares and blue accents.

Only one photo of the Dolphin Sport's exterior has been released – and it is said to be an "artist's impression" and that "final features and finishes may vary" – alongside a computer-generated promotional video first shown in China two years ago, said to depict an "overseas model".

However the previews show the body kit may also extend to a new front bumper, larger rear spoiler, more aggressive side skirts, and blue exterior accents.

It is unclear if there will be any changes to the suspension or brakes to accompany the visual upgrades, new tyres and improved acceleration claim.

The special edition will only be available with matte grey exterior paint, with a grey and black interior, BYD says.

The BYD Dolphin Sport will be the latest entrant in a new market of electric cars marketed as hot hatchbacks.

Rivals in terms of performance include the Cupra Born (170kW/310Nm, 0-100km/h in 7.0sec) and Abarth 500e (114kW/235Nm, 0-100km/h in 7.0sec).

Arch-rival MG is preparing to introduce a high-performance X-Power version of its MG 4 electric hatch – the Dolphin's main rival, priced from $38,990 plus on-road costs in base form – however it is a much faster vehicle, with dual electric motors, 320kW, and 0-100km/h in a claimed 3.8sec.

A closer match is the MG 4 77kWh Essence long range, which uses a single 180kW rear electric motor claimed to enable a 0-100km/h time of 6.5 seconds.

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Alex Misoyannis

Alex Misoyannis has been writing about cars since 2017, when he started his own website, Redline. He contributed for Drive in 2018, before joining CarAdvice in 2019, becoming a regular contributing journalist within the news team in 2020. Cars have played a central role throughout Alex’s life, from flicking through car magazines at a young age, to growing up around performance vehicles in a car-loving family.

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