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BYD Seal U in the driving test: Electric Chinese SUV at a competitive price


Highlights: BYD Seal U in the driving test: Electric Chinese SUV at a competitive price. “Rude awakening: E-car driver is confronted with the “hard truth” while traveling” “I have to admit that I’m very disappointed’: A Tesla customer after picking up his electric car. The 15.6 inch (approx. 40 cm) infotainment tray can be rotated for gaming and streaming. The screen has a corresponding microphone and a selfie camera. The car as a games console: This is also possible in China.

As of: February 27, 2024, 11:45 a.m

By: Rudolf Bögel




The Chinese manufacturer Build Your Dreams (BYD) is bringing an electric family SUV onto the market – at a competitive price.

Can it beat VW and Skoda?

If it doesn't work, it doesn't work, that's an old football saying.

At least this also applies to Germany at the moment.

Things are simply not working, neither in the economy as a whole nor in the auto industry.

Not in sports either, especially not in football.

Best example: Imagine we have the European Championship in our own country - but a Chinese vehicle manufacturer is the main sponsor.

It's called BYD, short for Build Your Dreams.

Build your dreams.

Maybe the German national team should also think about changing sponsors - things might work better with a BYD, MG & Co logo on the body.

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BYD Seal U – this is how well the Chinese SUV is equipped

Admittedly, this is all a bit cynical, but the situation is serious.

With the technological sovereignty in battery construction behind them, the Chinese car manufacturers are entering Europe with a big chest this time.

The best example of this is BYD, a mega-company from the Middle Kingdom (batteries, solar, buses, trains), which dethroned the industry leader Tesla with 526,000 electric cars sold in the fourth quarter of 2023.

BYD launched four models onto the market at a breathtaking pace last year.

Now comes the Seal U, the first larger SUV that competes against the VW ID.4, Skoda Enyaq iV & Co.

But it's not just the price that's a challenge at 41,990 euros, as we discovered during the first test drive.

The Chinese have also caught up technically.

In terms of design, the BYD Seal U is a real SUV, the corresponding off-road characteristics are only rudimentary, there is no all-wheel drive.

© Rudolf Bögel

Above-average workmanship in the interior

4.80 meters long, 1.67 meters high – the Seal U has impressive dimensions.

It has to because it wants to be suitable for families.

It is definitely spacious.

This is due, on the one hand, to the wheelbase of almost 2.80 meters, but also to the space-saving blade batteries, which are developed and manufactured at BYD.

The trunk holds 552 liters, or 1,440 liters when the (adjustable) rear seat is folded down.

That's a good average.

The interior presents itself above average, also in terms of workmanship.

The vegan leather feels elegant.

Little ugly plastic, but a lot of foamed plastic surfaces.

The gear lever is an imitation lead crystal and is reminiscent of the BMW 7 Series.

Of course, the Chinese have equipped their cockpit with full digital technology and even equipped it with a head-up display.

The gag at BYD: The 15.6 inch (approx. 40 cm) infotainment tray can be rotated.

The portrait format becomes a wide screen in no time.

Rotating screen: This electric car is also a game console

The meaning is not immediately apparent.

But if you know that living space is scarce in China, then you suspect: the car is a second living room.

Watching films or playing games online – you may need a wide screen for that.

The car as a games console: This is also possible in China.

The Seal U's steering wheel, brake and accelerator pedal can be decoupled for these purposes.

So you can drive a virtual race with your own car, even against your friend parked next door.

Karaoke in the car?

But sure.

The screen has a corresponding microphone and a selfie camera.

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The cockpit of the BYD Seal U is fully digital.

In addition to the speedometer, there is a head-up display and the central infotainment screen.

It can be rotated for gaming and streaming.


BYD Seal U: Two variants available

The BYD Seal U (the U stands for utility in the sense of useful) is available in two versions.

As comfort and design.

The main difference is in the subfloor.

The cheaper model has a 71.8 kWh battery and costs the aforementioned 41,990 euros.

The “Design” version has an 87 kWh battery, which is an additional charge of 3,000 euros.

The ranges are also different: you should be able to travel 420 or 500 kilometers with a consumption of 14.5 or 15.2 kWh per 100 kilometers.

Based on our experience on the test drives, this appears to be quite realistic.

With a slightly sportier driving style, we achieved 17.7 kWh, which is not bad for a vehicle weighing more than two tons.

However, you can tell from the car that it was designed as a family carriage.

The focus is on comfort, even if one or two hard impacts penetrate the spine.

The steering is a little too spongy for our taste and the brakes are sometimes doughy.

The front-wheel drive with the nervous grip at full load and in the corners doesn't necessarily increase the driving pleasure.

The Seal U has slight weaknesses when it comes to charging

But these are all small things, because overall the Seal U can be moved quite smoothly and the power of 160 kW is completely sufficient.

Even towing a trailer with up to 1.3 tons (braked) is possible.

A look under the hood is surprising: there is so much space, even an eight-cylinder engine fits in there.

The solution to the puzzle: The Seal U is also available as a hybrid version in China, and it is scheduled to come to Europe in the fall.

BYD uses its own self-built container ships for this purpose.

A matter of honor.

Unfortunately, BYD currently doesn't offer any Frunk for the Seal U under the hood, because then you could also stow the charging cable neatly.

So it sits in the trunk and is annoying.

Speaking of loading.

The Seal has weaknesses here: With direct current it creates 115 (comfort) or 140 kW (design).

The fact that the Chinese state the charging times as 27 or 29 minutes - but from 30 to 80 percent charge, and not as usual from 20 to 80 percent: a rogue who thinks evil of it.

By the way, from 20 to 80 percent it takes 42 or 43 minutes, depending on the model.

Doesn't sound quite as good then.

If you want to buy the BYD Seal fully equipped with a panoramic glass roof, you will pay around 45,000 euros.

A price that German manufacturers will ponder.


Because we're on the subject of weaknesses: The display is large and rotatable, but unfortunately it's not completely glare-free.

The chip architecture behind it leaves nothing to be desired.

The touch commands are implemented in a matter of seconds and the images from the vehicle cameras (360 degrees) are also razor-sharp.

Many other manufacturers can learn a lesson here.

Also commendable: The Seal U has two compartments for charging even large smartphones wirelessly.

Unfortunately, operating the display is sometimes inconclusive and complicated, especially when it comes to turning off driving assistants that are more annoying than helpful (lane keeping assistant, speed warning).

Technical data BYD Seal U

  • Motor: Permanent magnet synchronous motor

  • max. power: 160 kW (218 HP)

  • max. torque: 310 Nm

  • Drive: front

  • 0-100 km/h: 9.3 seconds

  • Top speed: 175 km/h

  • Battery: 71.8 kWh

  • Standard consumption: 19.9 kWh / 100 km

  • Test consumption: 17.7 kWh / 100 km

  • Range: 420 (combined) – 576 (city) km

  • Charging power: 11 kW (AC) / 115 kW (DC)

  • Charging times: 11 hours

    AC (single phase)

  •         7.5 hrs.AC (three phase)

  •         27 min. from 30 – 80%

  •         42 min. from 10 – 80%

  • Length / width / height: 4.79 / 1.89 / 1.67 m

  • Wheelbase: 2.77 m

  • Trunk: 552 – 1,440 l

  • Curb weight / payload: 2,020 / 4 k10g

  • Towing capacity: 1,300 kg

  • Price: 41,990 euros

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Our conclusion about the BYD Seal U: The price is hot

With the Seal U, BYD has set a real fragrance brand.

The car has weaknesses in the chassis and charging, but they are made up for by strengths such as quality, space and digital equipment.

Especially when you consider the prices.

Almost 42,000 or 45,000 euros are already a price announcement from BYD for so much car.

Or should we say “was”: Because the price war in the automotive industry is getting tough.

The ID.4 from Volkswagen currently only costs 32,600 euros in the basic version. There is no ID.4 with a motor that is directly comparable to the BYD Seal U, but it would be between 42,000 and 48,000 euros.

The bottom line is: China has caught up quite a bit and this time they are coming to Europe to stay.

The best example is BYD: After building an electric bus factory, the company now also wants to build its own car factory in Hungary.

Rudolf Bögel

Source: merkur

All tech articles on 2024-02-27

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