Chinese automaker BYD (Build Your Dreams) is hitting the European market with its latest-generation electric vehicles, and the good folks at the Fully Charged Show got their hands on a United Kingdom-spec Seal, which is a direct competitor for the Tesla Model 3.
Coincidence or not, both electric sedans are built in China, so the adage that cars made in this part of the world can’t match the quality of Western-built vehicles is out of the question from the get-go, as Tesla has proved time and time again that its Shanghai Gigafactory can keep up and even surpass its American facilities in terms of build quality and production speed.
But by the looks of it, BYD has gone one step further in terms of interior quality, as the video embedded at the top of this page mentions the excellent cabin, which is just one step below luxury brands like Mercedes-Benz.
Gallery: 2023 BYD Seal in European specification
What might make traditional car customers more likely to look at BYD’s offerings is the more conventional interior layout, which features a digital instrument cluster behind the steering wheel, a head-up display for the driver, and a central touchscreen display that rotates between landscape and portrait orientations at the flick of a switch. By contrast, Tesla’s entry-level EV only has a central touchscreen and some buttons on the steering wheel.
There are also plenty of buttons for things like the audio system volume and climate control, as well as steering column stalks, which have famously disappeared from the updated Model 3 “Highland.”
An energy-efficient heat pump comes as standard on the BYD Seal. In fact, the standard equipment list is quite generous and includes a panoramic roof, an electric tailgate, split-folding rear seats, a 360-degree camera system, adaptive cruise control, and a host of driving assistance systems like rear collision warning, traffic jam assist, and traffic sign recognition.
As a matter of fact, there are no optional extras on the Seal. Instead, there are two trim levels–Design, which comes with a rear-mounted 308 horsepower motor–and Excellence-AWD–which adds a front motor for an all-wheel drive system that’s good for 529 hp, as well as a head-up display.
BYD’s Blade battery, which uses lithium iron phosphate (LFP) chemistry and is a structural part of the car’s body, powers both versions and has a usable capacity of 82.5 kilowatt-hours. That’s enough for a WLTP combined driving range of 354 miles (570 km) in the rear-wheel drive model and up to 323 miles (520 km) in the AWD trim.
As for pricing, it’s pretty much neck and neck, at least in Germany. Here, the rear-wheel drive Seal starts at €44,913, while the AWD version ups the price to €50,990. Meanwhile, a Tesla Model 3 RWD goes for €42,990 and a dual-motor Long Range starts at €51,990.
Go ahead and see for yourself what the Seal is all about in the first drive review embedded at the top of this page. Then, head over to the comments section below and let us know what you think.