- BYD is releasing its luxury model, the BYD Seal, in the UK, competing with Tesla Model 3 and others.
- The Seal ensures a five-star safety rating and offers two powerful variants with 308bhp and 523bhp.
- Priced competitively, the Seal combines style, comfort, and performance in a strong entry to the UK market.
BYD, the largest automotive manufacturer that nobody (in Europe) has really heard of, is lining up to release its third model in the UK.
It’s been a big year for BYD in the UK. Impressively, they’re the largest manufacturer of new energy vehicles (NEVs) in the world, exceeding 200,000 sales every month. They entered the UK with the Atto 3 back in March 2023 and followed that with the Dolphin in the summer. Following the aquatic theme, the Seal is the next in their Ocean series.
This luxury four-door saloon is their most high-end offering in the UK to date. With an executive look and feel, and prices starting at £45,695, the Seal is a natural competitor of the Tesla Model 3, the Polestar 2, and the Hyundai Ioniq 6.
Despite being an automotive sensation in China, BYD has a fight ahead of them, competing alongside the big-name brands synonymous to Western consumers. So the next question is: how does the Seal fare in the real world?
The Seal sits on the same e-Platform 3.0 alongside its Atto 3 and Dolphin siblings. The e-Platform 3.0 is centred around BYD’s innovative blade batteries, which form a part of the car’s frame, adding strength and stability to the vehicle. The platform is so strong that the Seal has received a five-star rating from Euro NCAP’s most rigorous safety test to date.
The Seal packs a punch with its 82.5kWh battery, distinguishing itself with a single-motor rear-wheel-drive version delivering 308bhp and an impressive 354-mile range on a single charge. The dual-motor, four-wheel-drive iteration takes it up a notch, boasting a robust 523bhp and a still substantial 323 miles, validated by the WLTP test.
It impresses as a “high-performance sports saloon.” The 523bhp version delivers 0-60mph acceleration in sub-4 seconds. However, the speed never compromises the overriding aim—comfort. Even in rapid acceleration, it’s gentle and easy.
The sturdiness of the platform translates to the handling, which feels solid and grounded, with minimal lean through the corners. That’s just in regular ‘comfort’ mode, when you switch the steering into ‘sport’, it tightens up a bit and gives a little extra feedback.
The overall ride is smooth, taking on bumpy country roads with as much ease as a 2-tonne saloon realistically can. It’s a car built for driving longevity. I can certainly see myself cruising on a long cross-country drive in one of these. That brings us to an important question; what’s it like inside?
BYD has emphasized aesthetics without compromising quality. The interior is sophisticated, with faux leather and a suede effect on doors and dashboard. The focal point is the 15.6-inch touchscreen which rotates between landscape and portrait. While that may seem like an unnecessary, albeit fun, feature, after just a few conversations it’s clear that some people prefer portrait for navigation, so having that option seems appealing.
Each version of the Seal comes equipped with a full panoramic sunroof. Combine that with the extra space gained by the clever e-Platform 3.0, makes the interior feel roomy and generous. Add in a few nice touches like two wireless phone chargers under the dash along with heated and vented seats, and the Seal ends up as a warm, comfortable environment.
Pricing-wise, the Seal competes keenly. The rear-wheel-drive variant starts at £45,695, slightly edging out the entry-level Tesla Model 3 Rear-wheel drive. The dual-motor Excellence, priced from £48,695, offers around £6000 savings compared to the Model 3 Long Range. This slight saving on the BYD Excellence could easily lead to the dual-motor Seal becoming a strong market performer, especially at a time when money is tight for consumers.
The BYD Seal stands in the category of the Model 3, Polestar 2, and Hyundai Ioniq 6, even if just for its impressive pricing. It’s a car built for comfort, style, and experience. It’s easily capable of managing a plethora of occasions, from a business trip to a family holiday.
The Seal certainly stands out amongst BYD’s other UK offerings as a classy and comfortable choice and marks a real step into this increasingly competitive marketplace.
It’s fair to say BYD have well and truly thrown their hat in the ring. Legacy OEMs, we think it’s time to take note.