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In-depth reviews

BYD Seal review: a well-rounded executive EV

The handsome BYD Seal puts forth a strong case for itself as a well-made, fine driving, and efficient electric vehicle

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Price
£45,695 to £48,695
  • Interior quality
  • Not as sharp to drive as rivals
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Quick verdict

The BYD Seal is the Chinese brand’s most impressive UK offering to date, with excellent range, efficiency, and performance. It even has a well-finished interior with lots of standard equipment to give it the feel of a premium electric vehicle, so much so that it might make you think twice about a Tesla Model 3.

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However, its high equipment levels and swift performance mean the Seal has a higher price than we’ve been used to from BYD. Whereas the brand’s other models have undercut rivals, the Seal is priced directly to compete with premium EV offerings - or, in the case of the Tesla Model 3, above them. We still think it's worth considering the Seal, but it opens the car up to closer scrutiny against rivals that are more fun to drive, charge faster, and offer greater practicality

 

Key specs

Fuel type

Electric

Body style

Four-door saloon

Powertrain

82.5kWh battery, 1x e-motor (Design) rear-wheel drive

82.5kWh battery, 2x e-motor (Excellence AWD) four-wheel drive

Safety

5-Star EuroNCAP (2023)

Warranty

6yrs/93,750 miles

BYD Seal: price, specs and rivals

BYD has some lofty ambitions, including single-handedly reducing global warming. However, what we’re interested in here (as you probably are, too) is whether the BYD Seal electric executive saloon has what it takes to beat the Tesla Model 3.

It seems a little strange that a car maker would launch a saloon car when more and more buyers are defecting to SUVs, but the BYD Seal is not your normal compact executive saloon. It differs from rivals like the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, and Mercedes C-Class in being an all-electric offering like the aforementioned Model 3. Going electric brings lower company car tax implications than hybrid or even plug-in hybrid alternatives, which is crucial in this market.

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However, it isn’t just the traditional German choices and the Model 3 with which the Seal must do battle. There are now an array of other EV saloon offerings, such as the BMW i4, Hyundai Ioniq 6, and Volkswagen ID.7. Plus, you could also consider similarly priced cars like the Hyundai Ioniq 5, Kia EV6, Nissan Ariya, Volkswagen ID.4 and Skoda Enyaq that, while perhaps not offering quite the same overall driving range due to having less aerodynamic SUV-style shapes, do all offer greater versatility than a saloon.

Speaking of range and price, what do you get with the BYD Seal? All versions come with the same 82.5kWh (useable) battery size, which means an overall driving range from the entry-level rear-wheel drive of 354 miles. That’s a mighty impressive number, and requires the far pricier 391-mile Dual-Motor Long Range version of Model 3 to beat it. 

As already alluded to, the entry-level, rear-wheel drive Seal in Design trim starts at just under £46,000. That’s not cheap in this segment but even this model has a specification that reads more like that of a luxury car than a Spartan fleet favourite. Every Seal comes with 19-inch alloy wheels, free metallic paint, LED headlights, electrically adjustable heated and ventilated front seats, a surround-view camera system, a 12-speaker Dynaudio sound system, and an electric tailgate. The four-wheel drive Excellence model costs around £49,000, and adds a head-up display and more sophisticated adaptive suspension.

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The latter also gives you an electric motor in the front, making it four-wheel drive. It’s also the fastest Seal, with a 0-62mph time of just 3.8 seconds thanks to a mighty 530bhp on tap. That’s not to say that the entry-level rear-wheel drive Design model is a slouch, because it still has a not inconsiderable 312bhp to play with.

Electric motors, performance & drive

The BYD Seal is certainly quick, comfortable, and refined enough to be a great long-distance electric vehicle. We’re not sure there’s much need to go beyond the standard Design version with rear-wheel drive, unless you really need the additional traction of the four-wheel drive Excellence AWD for slippery conditions. A 0-62mph time for the rear wheel drive version of just 5.9 seconds puts the Seal ahead of similarly priced EV rivals. Read more about the BYD Seal's electric motors, performance and drive here…

Range, charging & running costs

We’ve only tested the BYD Seal in cold, wet, and windy weather, which isn’t the best for judging everyday efficiency. We saw a predicted range of around 200 miles on a battery charge of 65 per cent in those conditions, which isn’t bad. The rear-wheel drive model is our preferred version because its official range of 354 miles compares well with similarly priced rivals. Predicted resale values are likely to be on par with its competition, but insurance is likely to be expensive, because the Seal sits in some of the highest insurance groups. Its charging speed lags behind the class best, too. Read more about the BYD Seal's range, charging and running costs…

Interior, design & technology

A handsome exterior design and a classy interior built with plush materials help to give the BYD Seal the premium feel its price demands. You get a lot of equipment for your money, and the standard ventilated front seats are a nice touch considering the full-length glass roof will make things quite hot in summer. We doubt you’ll need a rotating central touchscreen, but at least the screen responds swiftly to inputs. We approve of the separate digital driver instrument cluster, because it puts important information, such as speed, within the driver’s line of sight. Read more about the BYD Seal's interior, design and technology…

Boot space, comfort & practicality

The Seal's saloon body style means it can be restrictive when loading taller items in the boot, unlike the VW ID.7 with its enormous hatchback-style tailgate. The Seal has a useful front boot to store dirty charging cables, just like the Tesla Model 3. There’s enough space up front for a pair of six-foot adults to sit comfortably, with enough space left over for a pair of similarly sized grown-ups in the back – although their heads will be close to the roof. You get a pair of ISOFIX child seat points in the back and another on the front passenger seat. Read more about the BYD Seal's boot space, comfort and practicality…

Reliability & safety

It’s too early to judge what the long-term ownership experience of a BYD car will be like, given the company has only just arrived on our shores, although the long six-year/93,750-mile manufacturer’s warranty should provide some reassurances. It’ll be a safe car because it scored five stars in Euro NCAP crash testing, although the VW ID.7 scored better in each category. The battery pack is covered by an eight-year or 125,000-mile warranty, which is longer than most of its rivals. Read more about the BYD Seal's reliability and safety…

Should you buy a BYD Seal?

​The BYD Seal feels like a much more mature product than either of the brand’s previous electric cars, but with that comes a tangible price premium that puts the sleek saloon on par with (or even slightly above) rivals, rather than allowing it to undercut them. Don’t let that dissuade you, because this is a well-equipped, high-quality, admirably efficient and good-to-drive EV that stacks up well both on paper and in the real world. It provides a comfortable and refined driving experience for anyone after an electric car with which to cover long distances.

Just be aware that while it is a credible alternative to a Tesla Model 3, the Model 3 charges much faster despite coming in at a lower price than the Seal in entry-level rear-wheel drive form, and would be more suitable for those who have to rely on public charging. Plus, there have been a number of arrivals in the segment, such as the Volkswagen ID.7, which provides greater practicality than the Seal, and the BMW i4, which is nicer to drive for those who value a B road blast every now and then.

Frequently Asked Questions
The BYD Seal provides excellent range and lots of equipment for the money, although some rivals offer faster charging speeds and a sharper drive for less money.
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Deputy editor

Richard has been part of the team for over a decade. During this time he has covered a huge amount of news and reviews for Auto Express, as well as being the face of Carbuyer and DrivingElectric on Youtube. In his current role as deputy editor, he is now responsible for keeping our content flowing and managing our team of talented writers.

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