Review – BYD Seal U (2024) – A Chinese Model Y?
BYD Seal U
A compact SUV, they didn’t have that at BYD yet. Or you should include the wacky Atto 3, but we’ll just call that a hatchback for convenience. BYD is expanding its lineup with an SUV variant of their Seal sedan: the BYD Seal U. Where the BYD Seal competes against the Tesla Model 3, the Seal U should give the Model Y a hard time.
Its name suggests that the car is an immediate relative of the Seal – BYD’s compact sedan – but actually they are not blood relatives. The Seal U is a further development of the BYD Song Plus, a Chinese SUV not available in Europe. BYD has given the Song Plus a solid makeover for Europe and given it the recognizable Seal nose. Under the skin, however, the Seal U – the “U” standing for Utility – thus has nothing in common with the sleek sedan.
But before we discuss the technology, let’s take a look at the exterior. The BYD Seal U shares its design philosophy with the previously released Seal and Dolphin, making it part of the BYD Ocean series. With flowing lines and a streamlined front end, the SUV looks elegant and modern. The front end, with the same headlights as the Seal, exudes recognition.
An SUV for everyday use
At 4.80 meters long, the BYD SEAL U not only offers plenty of space for passengers, but also an impressive luggage compartment of 552 liters, expandable to 1,440 liters with the rear seats folded down. A towing weight of 1,500 kg lets you haul even more stuff. The second row of seats – thanks to its generous 2.77-meter wheelbase – offers enough legroom for three passengers. A large panoramic roof comes standard and provides plenty of light in the second row of seats.
The compact SUV offers all the usual connectivity features, including integration of Spotify, Android Auto and Apple Carplay. The large infotainment screen claims all the attention in the interior. It measures 12.8 inches in the Comfort version and 15.6 inches in the Design version. The infotainment system works furiously fast, and the screen can tilt 90 degrees at the touch of a button, making it suddenly horizontal or vertical. A very fun party trick, which while using the navigation system also proves to be a very useful trick.
Thanks to an array of advanced safety and driving assistance systems, the BYD SEAL U provides ample safety. In a recent Euro NCAP crash test, the Chinese SUV earned the highest attainable score of 5 stars. Should you be involved in an accident, you don’t have to worry about the batteries causing trouble. BYD is spooning its own highly secure battery into the Seal U. For those who missed it, BYD is not only a car maker, but also the second largest battery builder in the world.
In the bottom is the BYD Blade Battery. Unlike traditional round cells, this battery uses elongated cells. This is a so-called LFP battery – lithium iron phosphate battery – which does not contain scarce resources such as cobalt. There are two battery options: a 72 kWh battery pack with a range of 420 kilometers (Comfort version) and an 87 kWh battery pack with a range of 500 kilometers (Design version). BYD mounts a heat pump as standard, which should prevent a significant reduction in range in cold weather conditions.
How fast can the BYD Seal U fast charge?
By default, the SUV supports 11 kW 3-phase AC charging. With a fast charger, it has 115 kW of fast-charging capacity for the smallest battery pack and 140 kW for the largest battery pack. In either case, you need about 40 minutes to charge from 20 to 80 percent. Nothing to be ashamed of, but there are EVs with which you can finish charging faster.
The BYD Seal U is always powered by a 218-hp electric motor on the front axle. With both versions, you need about 9.5 seconds to rocket from 0 to 100. At 175 km/h, the car stops accelerating. Again, these figures don’t make us (literally) stare backwards, but there is also little to complain about. Moreover, the Seal U feels a lot faster on the road than you might expect. A quick overtaking maneuver is a snap. Those switching from a gasoline-powered car to the Seal U will probably even have to get used to the smoothness and power of the powertrain. Then again, there are EVs that are faster.
However, the Seal U is not built for stoplight sprints. It is aimed at families, who want to travel from A to B safely and comfortably. So don’t expect a sharp-steering EV with sporty handling that rips the pavement to shreds. The focus here is clearly on providing a reliable and relaxing travel experience. It is stable on the road and effortlessly catches bumps and potholes. Still looking for an electric cannon that fits the whole family? Then you can opt for the sedan brother of the Seal U at BYD, which pops from 0 to 100 km/h in just 3.9 seconds.
Price, availability and warranty
The BYD SEAL U will enter the Dutch market in the first half of 2024. The SUV will be available in two trims – Comfort and Design – with six exterior colors and two interior color schemes. BYD offers a 6-year or 150,000-mile warranty on the car. 8-year or 200,000 km battery warranty should give buyers additional peace of mind. For the Seal U Comfort, the brand charges 42,990 euros and for 45,990 euros you have the Design version, with the larger battery pack. In the video below, we tell you more: