Feature article

Best BYD Car Models in NZ: Buying Guide

BYD, those cars you see with Build Your Dreams writ large across their rears, a new entrant to the local market.

12 March 2024

BYD, those cars you see with Build Your Dreams writ large across their rears, is another new entrant to the local market that has gained traction quickly. The BYD nameplate is not yet two years old here but its cars seem to be everywhere.

It launched with the Atto 3 SUV, which was its only model for the best part of 18 months, but the brand has recently added two new cars to its showrooms. These now number 15 with dealers spanning the country from Whangarei to Queenstown.

It’s so far an all-electric brand, its Atto 3, Dolphin and Seal all battery powered exclusively. Later this year, we can expect to see the first of its ‘super plug-in hybrids’ promising nearly 100km of EV driving, and a monumental 1000km plus overall range thanks to its efficient hybrid drivetrain.

BYD uses its own ‘Blade Battery’ technology which is said to be less volatile in the aftermath of an accident, while its cobalt-free LFP chemistry promises longer overall battery life. BYD NZ also its own panel repair network, while all models are covered by a six-year, 150,000km warranty.

As to which is the best BYD, that depends largely on your needs. The Atto 3 is a compact SUV, the Dolphin a small hatch and the Seal is a four-door sedan, each with differing price points. Here we outline the pick of the variants within each range.

BYD Seal - the slick four-door

The Seal is one polished sedan; a comfortable drive and well specified. There are three models, the line-up starting at $62,990 for the Dynamic with a 61kWh battery giving a quoted 460km driving range. This gets a 150kW/310Nm motor on the rear axle, delivering adequate performance. Next up is the Premium, this $72,990 model capable of up to 570km of emissions-free travel thanks to a larger 83kWh battery. It's also a bit quicker than the Dynamic thanks to its motor outputting 230kW and 360Nm. The range topper is the Performance at $83,990. This has the same 83kWh battery but has two motors producing a total of 390kW and 670Nm of torque enabling a 0 to 100 time of 3.8 seconds. Range is pegged at 520km.

Following the BYD mantra, even the entry-level Dynamic is well specified, while the Premium and Performance add even more things to the list.

The styling is slick, and the cabin is one of quality. We like that there’s a mix of tech via the big, connected touchscreen, but that there’s a conventional approach to vehicle operations, like a proper gear lever for instance. To drive, the Seal is refined, a model of smoothness, which adds to the quality feel of the car. The Performance version is rapid too, impressing with its effortless progress. The ride quality is absorbent over a variety of road surfaces.

There’s good space for four on board, although the boot is a little tight but is still practical. Its Blade Battery has the cobalt-free, lithium iron-phosphate chemistry for longevity and can be charged at rates of up to 150kW DC.

We’d be perfectly happy with the entry level Dynamic, representing solid value and quality amongst EVs at this price point.

Read the full review on Autocar: BYD Seal

BYD Dolphin - the five-door urbanite

BYD’s five-door Dolphin hatch is a size smaller than the Atto 3 SUV, but is no less spacious inside. Okay the boot’s smaller, but the reduced overall dimensions make it a handy city car. The Dolphin’s overall quality impresses, it has a high-level fit out to go with its comfortable character.

The Dolphin starts at $49,990 for the Standard model, its 45kWh battery giving a quoted range of 340km. This front driver has a 70kW/180Nm motor. For private buyers, we’d recommend stepping up to the Extended model however, the $6K premium well worth it. That buys you a superior powertrain with a more powerful 150kW/310Nm motor giving added performance while a larger 60kWh battery gives up to 427km of travel on a single charge. It’s also a more polished handler with its multi-link rear suspension whereas the Standard has a torsion beam.

The Dolphin also has BYD’s Blade battery tech with its LFP chemistry promising less degradation over time. And better resale potentially.

The Dolphin delivers a thoroughly impressive ride quality for a car of this size. Road noise is minimal too, the motor muted. The steering is light weighted, the turning circle is commuter friendly and the high spec delivers things like an excellent surround camera system. Plenty of safety items too

Read the full review on Autocar: BYD Dolphin

Atto 3 - the SUV

The Atto 3 quickly became one of the better selling EVs when it first arrived and it’s still a viable package now. It’s a right-sized SUV for urban life yet it has the range to go intercity.

It starts at $56,990 for the Standard range model with its 50kWh battery giving it a 345km range. The Extended model, with a 60kWh battery, has a claimed 420km range and costs $59,990. The $3k asked for the extra mileage makes it the better option of the two. There is no difference in specification between them, each with an impressive list of items. Both have the same 150kW/310Nm motor that drives the front wheels.

The Atto 3’s exterior styling is interesting without being too out there, unlike the interior which looks organic with its curves and contours. The build quality and materials used are genuinely impressive.

This five-door has good room in the rear along with a 440L boot. There’s the usual split folding and Isofix points for the kids’ seats. It’s practical then.

This is a compelling small SUV package in the electric market. It was named as the overall Car of the Year by NZ Autocar magazine for 2022, and it’s still a top buy in this market segment.

Read the full review on Autocar: BYD Atto 3 vs MG ZS EV


Kyle Cassidy
Kyle Cassidy
Editor NZ Autocar magazine - autocar.co.nz

Kyle has been reviewing cars since starting at NZ Autocar magazine in 2003 and has been editor since 2009. In that time he’s become an expert on what makes for a good vehicle while also gaining insights into the local automotive industry.