BYD Seal Review & Prices

The BYD Seal EV is fast and great fun to drive. It comes with plenty of equipment, too, but the touchscreen-dominated controls are too tricky to use on the move

Buy or lease the BYD Seal at a price you’ll love
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RRP £45,695 - £48,695 Avg. Carwow saving £1,859 off RRP
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£43,896
Monthly
£546*
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wowscore
8/10
Reviewed by Paul Barker after extensive testing of the vehicle.

What's good

  • Well-equipped
  • Comfortable yet fun to drive
  • Good range figure

What's not so good

  • Touchscreen too hard to navigate on the move
  • Boot isn't the biggest or most practical
  • Rear seats could be more comfortable

Find out more about the BYD Seal

Is the BYD Seal a good car?

The Seal is Chinese brand BYD’s third new car to launch across 2023, and like Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, to many it will be seen as by far the best of the three. With all due respect to the Atto 3 SUV and Dolphin hatchback, the Seal is a big step forward on either, and will find itself added to a shortlist of options that could already have contained the Tesla Model 3, BMW i4, Polestar 2 and Hyundai Ioniq 6. Which is pretty elite company for a brand that didn’t have a car on sale in the UK before summer 2023.

The Seal, ignoring the slightly odd name that at least follows on from the Dolphin, presumably on porpoise, comes in two forms - rear- and all-wheel drive, with range figures of 354 and 323 miles respectively. The payoff for reduced range from the car with motors driving all four wheels is the phenomenal performance of 530hp, compared to the more modest but still potent 313hp of the rear-drive car.

The BYD saloon has a stylish design that does look like it’s taken inspiration from a number of places, with the front and side profiles a little similar to Hyundai’s swooping saloon Ioniq 6 and the rear lighting not a million miles away from the Peugeot 508. But it comes together well as a coherent look.

The inside impresses at first glance, with nice suede patches across the door panels in particular and good combinations of materials across the cabin, although there are a couple of cheaper bits in places where it feels like a missed opportunity - principally the lever to open the door. Then there’s the huge touchscreen, which has the BYD party piece of rotating at the touch of a button, depending on whether you’d prefer landscape or portrait layout.

There’s a lot to like about the Seal, but it’s a shame so many functions go through the touchscreen that’s too hard to use while driving

The problems start when you need to use the touchscreen on the move - too many functions go through the large screen, and there aren’t enough old-school physical buttons to make things easier. It’s five or six button presses to make a single change such as turning off the heated seats and then get back to the Apple CarPlay or Android Auto screen you were using for navigation.

Front stowage is pretty good, and there’s a decent amount of rear legroom, although headroom is a touch tight because of the swooping roofline, also not helped by the huge panoramic sunroof eating a little more headspace. But four adults can easily be carried in comfort, even if the rear seat angle does leave you sitting in a slightly unnatural position. 

Boot space of 402 litres isn’t big, but at least there’s a handy front boot for storing charge cables.

To drive, the Seal is quite impressive, and feels like a serious competitor to those more established electric models - the BMW, Hyundai, Polestar and Tesla saloons or hatches. It’s quick, especially the Excellence all-wheel drive model, and is a decent amount of fun on a twisty road, generally riding bumps in a way that maintains comfort. It's a shame the infotainment is so lacking in user-friendliness on the move, because it’s the biggest drawback in an otherwise pretty impressive and well-specced package. 

If you’re interested in the BYD brand, check out the latest BYD offers through carwow on all its models, and when you’ve decided on your new car, don’t forget you can sell your current car through carwow too. 

How much is the BYD Seal?

The BYD Seal has a RRP range of £45,695 to £48,695. However, with Carwow you can save on average £1,859. Prices start at £43,896 if paying cash. Monthly payments start at £546.

Our most popular versions of the BYD Seal are:

Model version Carwow price from
230kW Design 83kWh 4dr Auto £43,896 Compare offers

There are two BYD Seal options, with the Design RWD and Excellence AWD options divided more by power and driven wheels than by extra equipment, though there are a couple of differences to help maintain the £3,000 gap between them.

The rear-wheel drive Design model is the cheaper of the two, offering 313hp and a 354-mile range. Stepping up to the all-wheel drive Excellence cuts the range figure to 323 miles as the second motor boosts power to a hefty 530hp. In addition, the Excellence also gets a head-up display and clever suspension system, but the majority of the benefit of going up to the higher trim level is the stonking performance.

And that performance is incredibly well priced. Getting a BMW i4 with the same power is an additional £20,000+. The entry Seal is slightly cheaper than most of its peers, bar the Tesla Model 3, which has a significant price advantage over any other premium small EV at the moment. That said, the BYD is a bit less expensive than the Tesla when comparing the more powerful versions.

Performance and drive comfort

The BYD Seal impresses with its nimbleness and composure on flowing and twisting roads, although rippled surfaces can have a surprisingly unsettling impact on the comfort

In town

The Seal impresses for the way it handles bigger bumps and road imperfections in particular, and it’s a comfortable and serenely refined way to plot your way around town.

It’s a shame there aren’t more levels of brake regeneration - you just get the normal mode and one that increases the regen, slowing the car when you come off the accelerator, but there’s no clever one-pedal driving mode as you find in the Nissan Leaf, for example. And the brakes are annoyingly grabby at lower speeds, so it's difficult to come to a smooth stop.

Visibility is reasonable up-front, although the Seal does sit sleek and low, so you’ve not got an SUV-style higher driving position to enjoy. But all cars get front and rear parking sensors and a 360-degree camera, and the Seal has a decent turning circle, so there’s no excuse for getting in a mess while parking, even though the view out the back window is poor.

On the motorway

The odd unsettled feeling over some road surfaces manifests itself most strongly at higher speeds, so sometimes the car can feel really jittery beneath you on some roads, but then switch to a different piece of asphalt and it’s much more pleasant. Which is a bit odd.

Otherwise, either model has plenty of performance to get you up to motorway speed on a slip road, and it’s quiet and refined when you get there, bearing in mind the faster you go, the more you’re taking range out of the battery via reduced efficiency.

There’s a complete suite of safety and assistance systems to keep you safe on longer journeys, and either Seal has a good enough range to mean you’ll be stopping for a break before you run out of charge. But the lower-powered Design model has an extra 31 miles of range for higher-mileage users or those most worried about range anxiety.

On a twisty road

This is where the Seal particularly impresses, proving to be surprisingly adept and nimble when the road goes tighter and twistier, which is no mean feat for a car weighing over two tonnes, and helped by BYD’s latest tech that builds the battery into the shell of the car, rather than attaching it to the body.

The Seal manages to minimise body roll and entices you to have fun in a way most electric vehicles don’t. It’s frustrating that you have to plot your way through touchscreen menus to switch on some of the driving modes, such as sportier settings, by which time the moment has probably passed.

It's not quite as sporty as a Tesla Model 3, and doesn't feel quite as punchy out of corners, but there's certainly plenty of fun to be had in the Seal – and in all-wheel drive guise, it actually accelerates faster than than the Tesla, which is no mean feat.

Space and practicality

Decent practicality and space up front, although the boot space can’t match the best electric saloons

The cabin initially impresses for quality and design, with a nice mix of materials making it eye-catching.

There’s a huge stowage area at floor level for stashing a decent-sized bag, and you’ll find a single USB and a USB-C in the front, along with a pair of cupholders and a decent stowage area under the armrest. The glovebox is of reasonable size, as are the doorbins, but they’re not lined and are of cheaper plastic than most of the cabin, which is a shame.

The other main area where cheaper plastic is very evident is the handle you use to pull the door open from the inside, which is a really odd thing to cut cost on as you touch it every time you get out of the car. Another oddity is that the air vents aren’t adjustable for angle, but they’re illogical features of an otherwise logical and pleasant cabin space. Although it’s a shame the door design doesn’t properly cover the sills, so you drag your trouser leg across a damp and dirty sill when getting out of the car.

Space in the back seats

There’s a good amount of legroom in the back, and headroom is decent despite the sweeping roofline that does rob some height. That’s most noticeable for taller people that will have to duck a touch when getting in and out, but once they’re in it’s absolutely fine, and you’ll have a lovely view of the sky through the huge panoramic glass roof that stretches impressively far back behind the rear passenger. There's a bit more space in a Tesla Model 3, but not by much.

The rear seat leaves occupants in a bit of an odd position, which is down to having a slightly reclined back, combined with the car’s low profile meaning the seats are quite low to the floor. There’s no SUV-style footwell, and the end result is that your knees are sitting slightly above your hips, which isn’t the most supportive of positions. Not the end of the world, but it’s not helped by it being tricky to squeeze feet below the front seats, slightly limiting rear passenger’s range of options. The space itself is good though, and rear passengers have a pair of power sockets to fight over - one old-style USB and a newer and more powerful USB-C.

The ISOFIX fixing is easily accessible behind a flexible plastic flap, and the doors open nice and wide so it's easy to get a child seat in, one area where the BYD wins over the Tesla.

You also get a reasonably sized door bin on each side as well as a fold-down arm-rest with a pair of cupholders.

Boot space

At 400 litres, the BYD Seal’s boot is a reasonable size - enough to take the family away for the weekend while still being adrift of the other main electric saloons. And by adrift, we mean a single litre and just five litres in the case of the Hyundai Ioniq 6 and Polestar 2 specifically, but the BMW i4 boasts 470 litres and the Tesla Model 3 a huge 594 litres, plus another 88 in the front trunk.

Unlike the BMW, the Seal has a handy additional front load area, which at 53 litres is plenty to stash the charging cables away from the rest of your luggage. Or there’s also underfloor space in the actual boot.

What there isn’t is tie-down points or power sockets, but you do get a little luggage net to one side for smaller items.

Interior style, infotainment and accessories

It’s a very pleasant cabin environment and the touchscreen looks good but unfortunately is horrendously difficult to use on the move, and almost every function is buried somewhere in a menu

As mentioned earlier, the cabin quality and design impresses when you drop into the BYD Seal, with the big touchscreen dominating the centre of the interior. And that screen has a hidden trick up its sleeve, switching from landscape to portrait layout at the touch of a button, as already seen in the Atto 3 and Dolphin models.

Though it’s largely theatre rather than usefulness, rotating the screen is handy when using the navigation in particular. In general, the 15.6-inch touchscreen looks better and is more usable in landscape form, but when using the navigation, rotating it to portrait gives greater visibility up the map. Although that’s only on the car’s in-built sat nav; Apple CarPlay or Android Auto are only usable in landscape form at the moment. (At least you get this smartphone mirroring, though, unlike in a Tesla.)

That’s where the praise of the touchscreen ends, though. Too many functions are buried too deep in the menus, taking five or six button presses to go into the climate or driving function menus to change settings and then return to Apple CarPlay, for example. It’s just too difficult to do quickly without taking your eyes off the road for prolonged periods. BYD is far from the only culprit (anything from Tesla and the Volvo EX30 are other obvious offenders), but the constant attempts to remove buttons and replace with touchscreen functionality has gone too far in terms of being able to safely adjust settings while driving. It needs some basic shortcuts.

The dashboard itself is clear and has a good array of displays, although the left-hand third of the dash has a distracting large dial showing charge status at that moment, and the numbers jump around and catch the eye at the expense of the more relevant speedo display. At least the higher-spec car has a head-up display.

One bit of cleverness that is worth flagging is that you can adjust the volume of both the audio and the navigation using one of the few buttons left in the cabin. Next to the gear lever is a volume scroll, and on the touchscreen you can toggle between audio and navigation instruction volumes, making it about the simplest way to mute spoken guidance of any car on sale.

Electric range, charging and tax

There are a pair of power options with the Seal, with power being the main differentiator between the two trim levels. The cheaper car is the Design rear-wheel drive model, which offers 313hp, while the Excellence all-wheel drive car takes the power up to 530hp thanks to the second electric motor.

The more efficient is the less powerful, as you’d expect, with respective official range figures of 354 and 323 miles from the 82.5kWh battery, which equates to decent efficiency of 4.3miles/kWh or 3.9miles/kWh respectively. BYD quotes a charging time of 26 minutes to go from 30-80% at a charging speed of up to 150kW, which is reasonable if not up with the best speeds.

It’s also worth noting that a heat pump, which helps battery efficiency, is fitted as standard.

As with all electric vehicles, tax conditions are favourable compared to petrol or diesel, especially if you take it as a company car, where all full EVs sit in the lowest tax banding. But Vehicle Excise Duty is also at the lowest level if you drive an EV, although won’t be exempt from 2025, and you dodge the VED penalty in years two through to six for cars costing over £40,000.

Safety and security

The Seal has been tested by safety specialist Euro NCAP, and was awarded the maximum five stars, performing well across the board but especially around vulnerable road user protection.

The list of standard safety kit fitted to every Seal is vast, with highlights including lane change assist, intelligent cruise control, blind spot detection, seven airbags and door opening warning.

Reliability and problems

As a new brand to the UK, there’s little evidence either way on BYD reliability, although it has plenty of experience of building electric cars in China. But BYD has moved to increase confidence in its products by offering a six-year or 93,750-mile warranty, double that which comes with the likes of BMW, Audi or Mercedes, while the battery and electric motor are covered for eight years, with mileage limits of 125,000 and 93,750 miles respectively. The battery’s warranty guarantees at least 70% operational capacity.

Buy or lease the BYD Seal at a price you’ll love
We take the hassle and haggle out of car buying by finding you great deals from local and national dealers
RRP £45,695 - £48,695 Avg. Carwow saving £1,859 off RRP
Carwow price from
Cash
£43,896
Monthly
£546*
Ready to see prices tailored to you?
Compare new offers
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