BYD Seal

Our first taste of the Seal back in April was on a track, which made the ride quality hard to judge. Now that we’ve had a more extensive drive on German roads, the good news is that the rear-driven Seal rides comfortably and upholds a good level of suppleness and isolation over large imperfections, thanks to slightly softer springing than the Model 3.

Since the all-wheel drive model is 130kg heavier, BYD has upgraded the suspension setup with frequency-selective dampers, a technology that’s becoming increasingly common. They’re passive dampers, but they’re supposedly firmer when cornering and softer when absorbing bumps. Nevertheless, the dual-motor Seal struggles with long-wave undulations, never really settling down. Regardless of configuration, wind and road noise are well suppressed.

BYD calls the Seal a “high performance sports sedan”, and the raw performance certainly never leaves you wanting. The 523bhp version doesn’t accelerate with the whip-crack attitude of a Tesla Model 3 Performance or BMW i4 M50, but sub-4.0sec jaunts to 60mph are still comical in an otherwise sensible saloon. The rear-drive car has more than enough poke and its power delivery is more progressive too, so that would be our choice.

It doesn’t feel like a sports saloon though, as the handling is limited in its feedback. Body control is good and there is minimal lean, but the inconsistently weighted steering is too vague and saps confidence. In sport mode the steering weights up and feels more predictable but it still never feels as communicative or engaging as the BMW i4. 

One other gripe is that the Seal’s mandated speed limit warning system doesn’t just bong, it has a voice chiming up to admonish you for going over what the system thinks – often incorrectly – is the speed limit. Thankfully you can turn it off, but it requires a trawl through the vehicle menus.

Could the BYD Seal be the model that shifts UK buying intentions towards the east? Persuading Tesla and BMW owners to switch will be a tough hurdle to overcome: as will bolstering brand equity in the UK.

BYD is yet to confirm UK pricing for either, but we expect the single-motor Design to cost from around £45,000 and the dual-motor Excellence from around £50,000, thus undercutting most rivals. The Seal is both capable and likeable, making it the brand’s most convincing model yet.

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