BYD Seal U: A Chinese Rival for Tesla and Volkswagen

BYD Seal U

BYD is advancing steadily: last fall it launched the Seal, an attractive coupe sedan to compete with the Volkswagen ID.7 and the Tesla Model 3. And now they present the Seal U, an SUV in the style of the Tesla Model Y.

BYD is advancing steadily: last fall it launched the Seal, an attractive coupe sedan to compete with the Volkswagen ID.7 and the Tesla Model 3. And now they present the Seal U, an SUV in the style of the Tesla Model Y and the Volkswagen ID .4. BYD Seal U, this Chinese one does scare Tesla because of its quality, autonomy and price.

Although the Seal and Seal U are similar in design and both share the “Ocean Line” shape conceived by former Audi Design chief Wolfgang Egger, the Seal U is based on a mixed platform.

The Seal is totally electric, has the battery in the ground and offers a great wheelbase, while the Seal U can also be combustion: it has arrived to us as 100% electric, but here in China it is also offered as a plug-in hybrid , with a lower price.

While the electric one starts at over 41,000 euros, the hybrid costs here in China about 35,000. The Seal U’s other advantage over the Seal is, of course, its body shape. Being an SUV means more headroom in the back, even though legroom decreases a little due to its smaller wheelbase.

But, above all, it offers much more trunk: while the coupe sedan has 400 liters, here we have no less than 552 liters, which reaches 1,400 if we fold the second row. In short, a family member with all the letters.

Unlike Nio, BYD has a luxury brand approach, but rather a large market volume, which is why it competes with diverse brands such as Volkswagen, Tesla or Skoda. We see this in a well-finished interior, comfortable and tidy, but not especially luxurious.

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And it’s typically Chinese in a good way: we have excellent graphics on a high-definition screen behind the steering wheel, a head-up display and, in the middle, a huge tablet floating above the center console. And if you don’t want to see videos or wide maps, you can press a button and it rotates 90 degrees.

A curious detail, which by the way limits the view on the windshield a little, due to its size and how high it rises. But it is undoubtedly a very ‘cool’ detail. On the other hand, we have classic controls on the steering wheel and the center console, none of the sliders and buttons with Volkswagen sensors.

We also have a lot of space in the center console, with a large glove box and another compartment below where you can charge your cell phone wirelessly. And a detail that reminds me of Skoda and BMW: the glass-style steering lever. Without a doubt a very ‘chic’ detail, inspired by European brands.

And here behind are the great advantages. Yes, it is true that in the Seal you are also comfortable and it has a wheelbase that is 10 centimeters longer than here, but that is more than compensated by its higher roof, enormous headroom and a very comfortable feeling. Comfortable seats, armrests and cup holders, and connections to charge your mobile phone, round out a perfect car for families and long trips.

Almost the same name and design, however, technologically the Seal and the Seal U are very different. While the Seal wants to be the sports saloon with up to 530 HP, the Seal U is the family one, and somewhat more comfortable.

The electric variant produces 218 HP and has front-wheel drive. The batteries have 72 and 87 kilowatt hours, for ranges of 420 or 500 kilometers. But the interesting variant is the plug-in hybrid that is currently being marketed here in China, and will reach us in summer.

It combines an electric motor and a 1.5-liter turbo four-cylinder block, with a total power of 428 HP. It goes from 0 to 100 in just over 5 seconds, and with the two batteries offered in China it can travel 100% electric.

The 17 kWh one allows you to travel just over 100 kilometers, and with the 31 kWh it reaches about 200 kilometers. This measured in the Chinese cycle, which in ours is a little less, but in any case, the total autonomy is 870 and 1,000 kilometers respectively, which avoids having to calculate stops to refuel in advance.

BYD has not yet decided which configuration will arrive in Europe, but if we take into account that the objective is to lower the price compared to the electric one, I suspect that we will have the variant with a 17 kWh battery.

All in all, it still has more performance and electric range than most equivalent European models. Another big step for this Chinese brand that is committed to electromobility.

And this has been our first ride in the BYD Seal U, a car that we will surely see frequently on our roads: it has an attractive design, it is spacious, it behaves well and offers more possibilities than many European brands.

At Volkswagen you have to decide between the classic Tiguan or the modern ID.4, and Tesla only offers electric cars. Here we have the possibility of choosing a 100% electric car with up to 500 kilometers of autonomy, or a plug-in hybrid capable of traveling around 1,000 kilometers.

Of course, it offers these numbers in the Chinese cycle, although in ours we would still be talking about about 800 kilometers. And with a lower price that starts at about 35,000 euros, compared to the more than 42,000 that the electric one requires. This portends a great future for BYD among us.