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New BYD Seal U plug-in hybrid SUV is headed for UK shores

BYD’s first plug-in hybrid offered in the UK will take on big sellers like Hyundai Tucson and Nissan Qashqai

BYD introduced three models to the UK market in its first year, and isn’t looking to let off any time soon. The brand has presented the European-ready BYD Seal U at the 2024 Geneva Motor Show, before order books open in the next few months.

So far, BYD has only offered pure-electric cars in the UK – the Dolphin hatchback, Atto 3 SUV and Tesla Model 3-rivalling Seal saloon. As its name suggests, the Seal U borrows some styling cues and technology from the last of those cars, but is very different under the metal.

That’s because the BYD Seal U will be available exclusively with a plug-in hybrid powertrain here, pitching it as a potential rival to the best-selling mid-size SUVs like the Hyundai Tucson, Nissan Qashqai and Kia Sportage

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The Seal U DM-i, to use its full name, utilises the company’s Super DM (Dual Mode) Technology and prioritises drive provided by the electric motor, with less reliance on the petrol engine meant to help improve fuel consumption. However, European WLTP fuel economy and emissions figures for the car have yet to be confirmed.

The Seal U DM-i is powered by a 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, a single electric motor and a 18.3kWh lithium-ion ‘blade’ battery that’s good for an electric-only range of more than 60 miles on the old NEDC test cycle still used in China. An official WLTP figure is also not confirmed yet.

That should be enough to place the Seal U in the same eight per cent Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) tax band as the plug-in hybrid Tucson and Sportage, which could help it appeal to company car drivers not yet taken by the idea of an EV.

Unlike a lot of plug-in hybrids, the Seal U also features AC and DC charging capabilities, allowing its battery to be recharged from 30 to 80 per cent in 35 minutes at up to 18kW. Also standard is a V2L (vehicle-to-load) socket, so devices like laptops can be powered by the car’s battery.

The Seal U uses BYD’s ‘Ocean Aesthetics’ design language, and comes with LED headlights with dual lenses, 19-inch alloy wheels and LED tail-lights that form part of a full-width rear light bar. Boot space stands at 552 litres – on par with the Sportage and Tucson – with 1,440 litres available with the rear seats folded down.

The Seal U’s interior features a 15.6-inch rotating touchscreen, 12.3-inch digital driver’s display, dual wireless charging pads, a panoramic sunroof, vegan leather upholstery and several driver assistance systems such as adaptive cruise control, blind spot detection and 360-degree parking camera setup.

We expect the BYD Seal U to start from just under £40,000 when it goes on sale in the UK in Q3 of 2024.

Now find out more about the best SUVs to buy....

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News reporter

As our news reporter, Ellis is responsible for covering everything new and exciting in the motoring world, from quirky quadricycles to luxury MPVs. He was previously the content editor for DrivingElectric and won the Newspress Automotive Journalist Rising Star award in 2022.

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