BYD are off to a great start here in Ireland with the ATTO 3 already posting strong sales figures since it launched just a few months ago. For those not fully aware, BYD, or Build Your Dreams, is a Chinese company that primarily operates in the electric vehicle (EV) and renewable energy industries. They are known for manufacturing electric cars, buses, batteries, and solar products. BYD has gained attention for their efforts in promoting sustainable transportation and energy solutions and their quest to flood the European market with electric vehicles, is well under way. Following on from the ATTO 3, Ireland will get the Dolphin, which is the entry level model and we will be driving this vehicle on home soil in the coming weeks. Perhaps the one people are most looking forward to is the SEAL, and we are just back from a days driving around the scenic Bavarian lakes and forests in Germany.
The SEAL is a good looking five seater D-segment sedan with huge range and big power! Like the ATTO 3, the SEAL is based on BYD’s state of the art e-Platform 3.0, which is designed purely for electric vehicles incorporating Cell-to-Body (CTB) technology. This means the large 82.5 kWh Blade Battery is an integral part of the chassis which essentially lowers the centre of gravity, offers excellent torsional rigidity and enhances the cabin space. The Blade Battery itself uses lithium iron-phosphate as a cathode material, designed to offer a higher level of safety and durability compared with conventional lithium-ion batteries. This battery is 100% free of cobalt and much more resistant to the extreme temperatures some European countries have been experiencing.
When we were presented with the keys in Munich Airport ahead of our test-drive the first thing we noticed was the sleek design. For me this is easily the best looking BYD with a nice low slung body style that somehow gives a nod to other stylish vehicles that have no doubt offered inspiration. It’s practical to with a 2,920 mm wheelbase providing occupants with ample legroom both up front and to the rear. The boot can swallow up to 400 litres and those pesky wet charger cables can be stored in the 53-litre ‘frunk’ under the bonnet. Sitting into our test car, it’s hard not to be impressed by the trim quality and comfort. The driver’s seat offers excellent support and is electrically adjustable in eight directions. The massive rotatable 15.6-inch screen is clear and concise and makes for the perfect command centre for everything from heating to entertainment all whilst seamlessly integrating with your phone via Android Auto or Apple CarPlay. Directly in front of the driver sits another 10.25-inch LCD panel giving you speed, energy usage, trip information and your driving mode which you can switch between ECO, Normal, Sport or Snow.
Ok let’s get down to the business end and see what’s powering the new SEAL. First off, it will be available in two trims, Design and Excellence here in Ireland with a choice of two drivetrains. The ‘Design’ single-motor version has rear-wheel drive with a power output of 313hp. This means the 0-100 km/h sprint can be competed in just 5.9 seconds. The range has been WLTP rated to 570 kilometres combined. If you would prefer the four-wheel drive Excellence model with an electric motor on the front and rear axles giving you 530hp, your range might drop a shade to 520 kilometres combined. This is no doubt down to the extra weight of the vehicle but what denotes this variant is that little 3.8 badge to the rear. This is in fact, the mind blowing time it can accelerate from 0-100 km/h in. Very impressive!
Like the ATTO 3 the SEAL offers a full suite of advanced driver assistance (ADAS). Expect Forward Collision Warning, Automatic Emergency Braking, Rear Collision Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Rear Cross Traffic Brake, Lane Keep Assistance, Lane Change Assist and Emergency Lane Keep to name but a few. There is also Adaptive Cruise Control and Intelligent Cruise Control, a 360-degree Panoramic Camera, Blind Spot Detection System, ESP, Traction Control, Hill Decent Control, Automatic Vehicle Hold, Intelligent Speed Limit Information and Intelligent Speed Limit Control. Believe it or not the list goes on!
We have been told prices in Ireland will start from €40,567 for the COMFORT model, arriving in 2024, based on the current subsidies in place. If you want one sooner the first model to arrive in Ireland will be the DESIGN model, expected to be the most popular choice priced at €44,036. This will be followed by the EXCELLENCE model priced €49,836 and both vehicles should be here this side of Christmas.
Driving the SEAL was a pure pleasure really. I don’t say this lightly because there are a lot of good cars available for sale on Irish roads but few offer this level of comfort and performance in such a good looking package. We pushed the SEAL not just on the Autobahn but also through a series of technical mountainous routes and it performed admirably. Our test car was the all wheel drive Excellence and even in the pouring rain the vehicle always felt surefooted. This is no doubt down to the Intelligent Torque Adaption Control system, which works in harmony with the variable frequency dampers automatically preparing to absorb bumps and read the road conditions ahead. We probably completed just shy of four hours in total in the new SEAL which was a great first impression but never enough to do a real world range test etc. In the time we did have with the vehicle in managed battery efficiency excellent and we parted ways with the SEAL already excited about its impending arrival to Ireland. No doubt we will bring you a more comprehensive video review at that time also.