The BYD Seal is the third fully electric model from the Chinese manufacturer BYD – an acronym for Build Your Dreams. Following the introduction of the Atto 3 crossover and the affordable Dolphin hatchback in the UK, the Seal is a sports saloon that aims to inject some vitality into BYD’s somewhat subdued range. With its proportions and design likely appealing to European tastes, the Seal seems to blend familiarity with novelty, despite not quite reaching the distinctiveness of models like the Hyundai Ioniq 6.

Exterior Design

Visually, the Seal is a nod to contemporary aesthetics, presenting a neat, well-proportioned silhouette. It doesn’t scream for attention but rather opts for a more subtle appeal. This approach might be a strategic choice to resonate with a broader market segment, especially considering its resemblance to familiar models like the Ioniq 6. However, it stops short of being as visually striking as some of its competitors.

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Interior Design

Inside, the Seal shows more originality. The use of a curious steering wheel design and a rotating 15.6-inch touchscreen, which can switch between portrait and landscape, brings a unique flair to the cabin. The interior feels upscale with soft-touch materials and a suede effect on the doors and dashboard, marking a departure from the minimalist approach of rivals like Tesla’s Model 3. However, the infotainment system, despite being responsive, suffers from an overcomplicated interface with too many sub-menus.

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When it comes to the driving experience, the BYD Seal presents a mix of high expectations and subtle realizations. It’s important to note that while BYD labels it as a “high-performance sports saloon,” the experience is more nuanced than what this label might suggest.

Performance and Handling: The Seal offers two power variants: a 308bhp version and a more potent 523bhp model. The latter doesn’t deliver the raw, visceral acceleration of some of its rivals like the Tesla Model 3 Performance or the BMW i4 M50, but it certainly doesn’t lag in terms of providing an engaging drive. Acceleration in the 523bhp model is brisk, with sub-4.0 seconds to 60mph, which is quite impressive for a saloon that otherwise prioritizes sensibility. The 308bhp version, with its more progressive power delivery, might actually be more appealing for everyday driving, offering ample performance without the sometimes overwhelming punch of the higher-spec model.

Ride and Comfort: The Seal comes with passive suspension, which is a notable point of distinction from more expensive rivals that offer active setups. Despite this, the ride quality is commendably balanced. The Seal manages to avoid the uncomfortable pitching motion common in many EVs, especially at mid-speeds. This achievement is particularly notable in the four-wheel-drive version, which benefits from frequency-selective dampers. These dampers, though passive, are designed to be firmer during cornering and softer when absorbing bumps, contributing to a ride that feels both composed and comfortable. The two-wheel-drive version, being lighter, has a slight edge in terms of ride suppleness.

Steering and Braking: The Seal’s steering is another highlight, offering accuracy and a good level of feedback. This characteristic was particularly evident during tests on a wet handling track, where the car’s responsiveness and control were commendable. The Seal features adjustable steering and brake feel, but the standard ‘Normal’ mode seems to offer the best balance for both. The ‘Sport’ mode, while available, tends to add an unnecessary heaviness to the steering and a too-aggressive bite to the brakes.

Driver Assistance and Safety Features: One area where the Seal might feel overdone is in its safety aids. The car comes equipped with numerous driver assistance features, including lane departure warnings. However, these features can be overly sensitive and intrusive, requiring the driver to deactivate them regularly – a process that can become as habitual as buckling a seatbelt but might be seen as an inconvenience by some.

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Battery Capacity and Range

The BYD Seal is equipped with an 82.5kWh battery, which is a substantial size, promising a good balance between range and efficiency. The vehicle offers two power options: the Design rear-wheel drive model with 313hp and the Excellence all-wheel drive model with a more robust 530hp, thanks to an additional electric motor. The rear-wheel drive variant is more efficient, boasting an official range of 354 miles, while the all-wheel drive model offers a slightly lower range of 323 miles. These figures translate to an efficiency of approximately 4.3 miles/kWh and 3.9 miles/kWh, respectively. These efficiency metrics are quite respectable, indicating that the Seal is competitive in its segment in terms of range and energy usage.

Charging Capabilities: Charging time and speed are vital for electric vehicle usability, especially for those with regular long-distance travel needs. The BYD Seal offers a reasonably quick charging experience, with the ability to charge from 30% to 80% in about 26 minutes at a charging speed of up to 150kW. While this charging speed is not the fastest available in the market, it is still quite practical, allowing for relatively quick top-ups during journeys. It’s important to note that access to high-speed charging infrastructure would be necessary to take full advantage of this capability.

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The BYD Seal represents a solid, albeit not groundbreaking, addition to the electric sports saloon market. Its blend of decent performance, quality interior, and moderate pricing makes it a viable option for those seeking an EV that differs from the mainstream choices. However, it falls short of being a segment leader, lacking the distinct personality or innovative edge that might captivate potential buyers. The Seal is a commendable effort from BYD, but it remains to be seen if it will significantly impact the highly competitive EV market.

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