The BYD Seal is an electric saloon car that does 0-62mph in 3.8 seconds and has a 323 mile range.
It’s the third car launched in the UK by the Chinese brand, following on from the BYD Atto 3 and the BYD Dolphin.
Not many people have heard of BYD, but the Fortune 500 company is huge. They’ve been making batteries for nearly 30 years and BYD technology is in half of all iPads and a fifth of all smartphones.
More recently the company has turned its attention to cars. The BYD Seal is the company’s flagship model in the UK.
It’s available in two variants. The entry level Seal Design is rear wheel drive and develops 308bhp through a single electric motor. With an official range of 354 miles, it can travel a long way between charges. It costs £45,695.
I drove the Seal Excellence, which costs £3,000 more at £48,695. It comes with front and rear motors, making it four wheel drive, and it develops a hearty 523bhp. That’s enough for a blistering 3.8 second 0-62mph time. That extra power and the weight of the four wheel drive system dents range slightly but it’s still good for 323 miles.
The BYD Seal comes with a six year/150,000km warranty and is designed to steal sales from the Tesla Model 3 and the Scottish Car of the Year winning Hyundai Ioniq 6. It may even tempt buyers away from BMW’s much more expensive i4 electric saloon.
On a rainy day in mid December I donned my best Christmas jumper and travelled to Loch Lomond to be one of the first Scottish motoring journalists to drive the BYD Seal.
It’s a good looking car, with a sleek, sporty shape that has hints of the Porsche Taycan and Genesis GV60. The slippery silhouette has a drag coefficient of just 0.219, making it extremely aerodynamic and improving range.
The interior is classy, with leather seats, a 15.6in touchscreen and a gigantic panoramic glass roof. That touchscreen has a neat party trick, rotating from portrait to landscape orientation at the touch of a button.
The only snag is BYD has crammed too much into the touchscreen, making it difficult to operate. I had to delve into various sub-menus to switch the heated seats and steering wheel on.
There’s plenty of room in the back and the boot is big as well, although a hatchback opening would make it much more practical.
On the road the BYD Seal is an impressive car. It has outstanding straight line speed, of course. But it also handles surprisingly well, with plenty of grip and an agile feel.
Four-wheel drive is assisted by a sophisticated traction control system. Even on cold and wet roads you can deploy all 523bhp without any wheel spin. The car doesn’t wriggle and squirm, it just launches straight forward, rocketing you towards the horizon.
After two hours of driving – and playing with the performance – the battery was at 50% and had 140 miles left. That’s not bad at all for a cold and rainy December day when wipers, lights and heater were all operating.
There’s an awful lot to recommend the BYD Seal. It looks good, it’s spacious, it has an excellent range, it handles well, and it’s extremely fast. Ride quality is good and the cabin is classy as well.
Can the BYD Seal tempt BMW and Tesla buyers? It certainly deserves to.