Road Test: BYD Seal – better than a Tesla Model 3?

BYD is arguably the biggest company you’ve never heard of, they have electronic parts in the products of many well-known tech companies. The Chinese manufacturer is also involved in rail transit and new energy solutions for zero-emissions systems. Most importantly to us they have produced cars since 2005. The recent European launch of three new EVs means the company has gained greater prominence, the Atto, Dolphin and Seal have garnered very good reviews from the motoring press.

Latest to launch is the Seal that offers two models priced from £45,695, a single motor rear-wheel-drive or dual motor all-wheel-drive. Possessed of rather Teslaresque styling it looks less minimalist, some would say less bland, especially inside the car. The interior treatment feels very premium, and on the price front the dual motor long range Seal is slightly cheaper than the equivalent Tesla Model 3, and comes with more equipment as standard.

On the technology front the lead-in Seal provides a longer range and slightly quicker performance to the benchmark 62mph. However, many of these differences are to a degree inconsequential and arguably only provide bragging rights. You can legally travel at up to 70 mph on UK roads, acceleration in both cars is more than sufficient to pass slower moving traffic in the blink of an eye, therefore it largely comes down to what you perceive and feel from the cars.

Standard fare across the board with the Seal includes leather upholstery, 15.6” central display screen that can be rotated between portrait and landscape, power adjustable driver’s seat, dual zone remote climate, power tailgate, auto lights and wipers, powered, heated and folding door mirrors, high beam assist with adaptive headlights, keyless entry and start, four driving modes, wireless phone charging and a whole raft of safety kit.

On the road the cars provide a smooth and confident performance in terms of ride and handling, with even the rear wheel drive model displaying admirable alacrity when you exercise your right foot. The interior is a very nice place to be travelling and my only reservation is that the colour choice of the background and graphics on the display screen is a little wishy-washy and could be easier to read.

Overall this is a most impressive start for BYD and given the choice, if you take badge preference, and residual values, out of the equation, I cannot see why people would opt for a Tesla Model 3 over the BYD Seal. Yes, it really is that good.

Words by Mark Slack

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