BYD Seal exterior

Motoring with Tony Conlon: The Seal follows the Dolphin

The latest new model to arrive here from Chinese electric car giant BYD is the eye-catching Seal model.

A four-door, all-electric saloon which has the appearance and feel of a sports coupé, the BYD Seal is the third model to launch here since BYD was introduced to Ireland just eight months ago.

The Asian manufacturer – which last year overtook Tesla to become the world’s biggest electric vehicle (EV) maker – is clearly attacking the Irish market with relish having already launched the Dolphin and the Atto 3 – winner of the Continental Irish Small/Compact SUV 2024 Award – here in 2023.

This pair is now joined by the pretty and sleek BYD Seal, the second model from the Chinese carmaker’s ‘Ocean’ series and the latest to feature its innovative ‘Ocean Aesthetics’ design language.

Despite the launch taking place on a wet, dreary winter’s day, a brief drive over twisty back roads around Wicklow showed me what it was made of, and I could sense a great curiosity from the many road-users craning their necks to get a proper view of this new BYD.

Here, the model line-up consists of two powertrain variants – ‘Design’ and an all-wheel drive ‘Excellence’ version. Offering two trim levels, six body colours, two interior trim colours and several technological ‘firsts’, prices commence at €44,036 for the Design model and from €49,836 for the Excellence model (after State subsidies).

Like its predecessors, the Seal is powered by BYD’s own, in-house developed, 100% cobalt free 82.5 kWh Blade battery that offers power outputs from 230kW (Design) to 390kW (Excellence).

Claimed to offer a range (WLTP combined) of 570km (Design) and 520km (Excellence) and 0-100km/h speeds of 5.9 seconds and 3.8 seconds, respectively, other key Blade battery features include a 30% to 80% fast charging time of 26 minutes, when charged at a 150kW DC charging point.

The sporty-looking Seal has been created by a design team led by BYD’s global design director, Wolfgang Egger, and has a drag coefficient of just 0.219. The wheelbase provides five occupants with good headroom and leg space, accommodation “similar to that of an executive saloon”, says BYD.

Notable features are its smooth silhouette, low front, sloping A-pillar, rounded roof, sloping fastback and concealed door handles. Apart from model variances, drivetrain and performance differences, the car comes with an extensive range of standard features and specifications common to both Design and Excellence models.

Inside, the driver’s seat is electrically adjustable in eight directions with four-way power-adjustable lumbar support. The bright interior is thanks to an oversized panoramic sunroof.

Front doors are fitted with double layered laminated glass for better sound and heat insulation, while the rear doors feature privacy glass. Storage consists of 400 litres of boot space supplemented by a 53-litre under-bonnet capacity and more than 20 interior storage spaces.

In addition to a centre armrest box and open-storage space, a wireless charging point for two mobile phones is provided beneath the sub-dash. A smart connectivity and infotainment system are amongst a suite of high-tech features that include 4G intelligent connection and Over-the-Air (OTA) updates.

There’s a 15.6-inch rotatable screen with intelligent voice control function and seamless smartphone integration along with a 10.25-inch LCD full instrument panel and 12-speaker Dynaudio Performance audio system.

Safety-wise, there’s an extensive suite of advanced driver assistance features like forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, rear collision warning and rear cross traffic alert and brake. Cutting-edge lighting technology provides a wider beam to aid visibility during night driving, with high beam assist, adaptive headlights and follow-me-home as standard.

An 11kW 3-phase on-board charger for AC charging is also supplied as standard.

This is the first BYD model with independent suspension – double wishbones at the front and a five-link rear suspension – and the new Seal boasts a unique ‘sandwich’ state-of-the-art vehicle architecture that delivers torsional rigidity and a low centre of gravity. Even in the wet, handling ability was admirable.

The Seal offers four distinct driving modes (Eco, Normal, Sport and Snow) that cater for a variety of driving preferences and conditions. Other features include a high-efficiency heat pump system. A six-year manufacturer’s warranty and an eight-year battery and electric motor warranty applies to all BYD Seal models.

The speed at which this company is growing is something to behold. And you’re going to be hearing a lot more about it.

Apart from building a new European manufacturing facility in Hungary, BYD is in the process of taking delivery of seven enormous ocean-going ships, each capable of carrying more than 7,000 cars, to accelerate the company’s push into overseas markets.