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BYD Seal Performance review: An electrifying family saloon

By Kenny Yeo - 21 Apr 2024

BYD Seal Performance review: An electrifying family saloon

Note: This review was first published on 9 April 2024.

BYD's new Seal electric saloon is available in three variants. The one I tested was the range-topping Performance variant that has over 500hp.

You only need to spend a minute by the side of any road to know that sedans don’t sell nearly as well as they used to. SUVs now rule the roost, which is why BYD’s first serious foray into our market was with the Atto 3 – a compact SUV. Still, no car lineup can be complete without a refined family sedan and so BYD’s latest offering is the new Seal, a sedan that is arguably the Tesla Model 3’s keenest rival.

The TL;DR version:

Supremely fast, surprisingly comfortable, and relatively affordable, the BYD Seal Performance is a compelling option for families who want a little spice in their cars.

@hwztech A quick tour of the new BYD Seal Performance version. Stay tuned for our full review! #hwz #byd #bydseal #bydsealperformance #seal #ev ♬ SOL SAN JUAN - Nomad & Lola

The Seal is offered in three variants here: Dynamic, Premium, and Performance. The three have largely similar features and the key difference is in their battery capacity and drivetrain. Here’s a handy table that summarises their differences.

Model Power Battery capacity Claimed range 0-100km/h timing Starting price
Dynamic 201hp / 310nm 61.4kWh 460km 7.5s S$185,888
Premium 313hp / 360nm 82.5kWh 570km 5.9s S$194,888
Performance 523hp / 670nm 82.5kWh 520km 3.8s S$226,888

You can tell it's the Performance variant by this "3.8S" badge on the boot. It tells others how long it takes to get from 0 to 100km/h.

The unit I’m testing is the flagship Performance variant. The Performance variant has dual motors on the front and rear axles, which together develop about 523hp and 670nm of torque. Let’s be honest, one of the reasons why you might want a Seal Performance is because of how fast and affordable it is. It must be one of, if not the most, affordable new cars on sale with over 500hp. That’s a very compelling proposition for readers who appreciate fast cars.

Despite weighing well over two tons, 0-100km/h is claimed to be dealt with in just 3.8 seconds and it certainly feels that quick. Like most EVs with big power and torque figures, the Seal Performance feels rapid. Anyone new to high-performance EVs will be in for an eye-popping experience.

Rear passengers have a lot of legroom.

Happily, this isn’t just a straight-line monster. It’s no canyon-carving sports car, but it steers accurately enough to give you enough confidence to take speeds through turns and feels engaging enough to make you feel like you are piloting something a little special. There's a surprising amount of suspension travel, so there is noticeable roll through turns, but it also means it soaks up road imperfections well. On the whole, I think it's very well-suited for our roads and would be a capable long-distance cruiser should you take it across our causeway, if you can live with its average range.

Even though the Performance version has a larger 82.56kWh battery, its range was decidedly average. I clocked over 360km during my time with it and the trip computer measured its average energy consumption to be around 20kWh/100km. This means it has a practical range of around 350km. Part of the problem, I think, is because of its vast glass roof which lets in a lot of heat on sunny days. This meant I had to crank up the AC, which invariably affected its range. If it’s any consolation, the Seal supports up to 150kW DC fast charging. This means if you can find a powerful enough charger, you can charge it from 30% to 80% in around 30 minutes.

The Seal Performance might have a large battery, but its fairly high consumption means its real world range is probably only around 350km.

The styling, like most other BYD cars, is quite generic. Although one could say that it looks quite sleek because of its sharp nose and sloping profile. One slightly quirky thing about the Seal is its wavy daytime running lights that are integrated into the front bumper. Overall, I think the Seal is quite handsome, but I can also see why some might also say it looks boring. It doesn’t help that it’s only available in four colours – Atlantis Grey, Arctic Blue, Aurora White, and Cosmo Black – and they are all rather muted. I reckon it’ll look menacing if it comes in a bright shade of red.

The Seal is a fairly large car – roughly the size of a BMW 3 Series or Toyota Camry – so space inside is abundant. Rear leg room, in particular, is generous and won’t be a problem unless your passengers are well over average height. The interior is also easily the most refined out of all the BYD cars I’ve driven so far and the most conventionally styled. The first thing most people will notice is the signature rotating infotainment display. It’s even larger now and measures a whopping 15.6 inches. Happily, the Seal’s instrument cluster is larger too, and now measures 10.25 inches. It’s a lot more legible than the tiny 5-inch displays found in the Atto 3 and Dolphin. 

The infotainment display may be large but the user interface is unintuitive and takes quite a bit of practice.

The infotainment system is powered by Android and isn’t the most intuitive. Even now, after driving the Atto 3 and Dolphin, I still find it needlessly complicated and tedious to use. Even simple everyday operations like adjusting the air-conditioning require far too many taps on the screen. Fortunately, owners can rely on Android Auto and Apple CarPlay for navigation and entertainment. One thing to note, however, is that the former works wirelessly but the latter requires a USB-C cable. 

One area that BYD does consistently well is safety and the Seal has a ton of features to keep you from crashing into things. Apart from your usual 360-degree cameras, blind spot warnings, and parking sensors, this car also has adaptive cruise control, predictive collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and more. The safety features can be a little too eager to kick in. Once, a car came too near as I was turning out of a junction and the safety systems immediately blared a loud warning and jammed the brakes even if we were in no danger of trading paint. That took me completely by surprise and was a little disconcerting. But, better safe than sorry, right?

Styling is subjective but I think most people will agree the Seal looks more interesting than the Model 3.

Comparisons will inevitably be made between the Seal and the recently updated Model 3. Having only been behind the wheel of the latter for a few hours, it’s impossible to draw any definitive conclusions, but a strong case can be made for the Tesla being the more feature-packed of the two. And based on my hazy memories of driving it, I think it’s quieter on the roads too. It certainly has a better sound system and a longer range. On the flip side, anyone who chooses the Tesla must overcome its various quirks, such as the lack of physical touch points in the cabin and the one-pedal driving.

What’s most surprising about my time with the Seal Performance was how often I grabbed its keys not because I had someplace to go but because I yearned to drive it. That doesn’t happen often, especially with EVs. The last EV to make me feel this way was the exceptional Audi RS e-tron GT. Any high-performance car should have some beguiling aspect and the Seal Performance certainly has something special about it. And that’s more than I can say for most of the cars I’ve driven. 

The Seal is quite a big car. It's nearly 1.9 metres wide and 20cm shy of 5 metres long.

The good
  • Ballistic performance
  • Competent handling
  • Comfy ride
  • Spacious interior
  • Loads of features
  • Attractive price
The bad
  • Generic styling
  • Infotainment system is unintuitive
  • Wired Apple CarPlay
  • Average range despite large battery

Pricing and availability

The BYD Seal Performance is available now with prices starting at S$226,888. The cheaper Dynamic and Premium variants start at S$185,888 and S$194,888 respectively. Prices are correct at the time of publishing. For more information, visit the BYD website.

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