The BYD Seal electric sedan is arguably the most important model in the Chinese automaker's short history. The company that built its first car in 2003 has evolved into an EV powerhouse that dominates sales in China, becoming the best-selling brand overall last month in the world's largest car market.
BYD is also in the midst of an international expansion and in recent months announced plans to sell its EV in a number of European countries as well as markets in Latin America, the Caribbean, Middle East, Asia and Oceania. Europe is obviously the biggest prize for BYD and the Seal compact sedan—sold as the Atto 4 in some markets—has the potential to become the brand's best-seller in the region.
That also seems to be the most common opinion among journalists who got to sample the BYD Seal recently at the media drive event in Shenzhen, China. Fully Charged's Elliott Richards, for example, believes it will be a "huge hit" in Europe, while Wheelsboy's Ethan Robertson calls it "the new benchmark."
There are many reasons for that, but probably the BYD Seal's biggest asset is the fact it offers the whole package. The Chinese automaker has created a right-sized car that looks good inside and out, has a good quality, well put together interior—one of the reviewers finds it BYD's best interior yet, a cut above the Han flagship—and it offers punchy performance and innovative engineering.
Gallery: BYD Seal
Both reviewers got to test the BYD Seal Long Range version, which is rear-wheel drive and powered by a 82.5-kWh Blade LFP structural battery pack. It enables 700 kilometers (435 miles) of range on China's CLTC cycle, but real-life range is significantly lower, probably at around 300 miles.
While they didn't have the car long enough to perform range tests, the reviewers were pleasantly surprised by the 230-kW (308-hp) electric sedan's handling. Fully Charged says the BYD Seal's chassis feels really tight, very nimble and responsive to drive, signaling an interesting change of philosophy for a brand that never really built sporty cars before the Seal. It's fairly quick too, covering the 0-100 km/h sprint in 5.9 seconds.
BYD's electric sedan also scores big points when it comes to interior space—including for rear passengers—comfort and technology. There's a lot to talk about regarding the latter, but suffice to say the Seal is built on the 800-volt e-platform 3.0 and offers features like iTAC (Intelligent Torque Control System), D pilot Level 2 ADAS, a 15.6-inch rotating touchscreen, 10.25-inch instrument cluster, head-up display and more.
Add to that the price of around $37,000 for the Seal Long Range model—$1,000 cheaper than the base Model 3 RWD in China—and it's pretty clear BYD has a winner in its hands. Is it good enough to beat the Tesla? Only time will tell.