Now here’s my prediction for 2024: the BYD Seal is going to make a splash in the sporting saloon sector.
Up to now, Europe has been the leading provider and market for four-doors and something a little special in the family sector, but that is likely to change over the coming 12 months.
China’s BYD (it stands for Build Your Dreams) launched its Atto 3 SUV and Dolphin hatchback in Britain in 2023 and it’s just rounded them off with the Seal saloon.
Still more will be introduced next year as the dealership network rises towards 90 outlets over 12 months, mostly well-known names above showrooms.
It’s a straightforward range comprising rear wheel drive Design with 230kW output or all-wheel-drive Excellence models producing 390kW starting from just under £46,000 and rising to nearly £49,000.
There’s a single motor in the entry model and twin motors to give AWD in the Excellence; both use an 82.5kWh battery with charging times of approximately half-an-hour to 80% pushed in at 150kW.
The BYD Blade Battery uses Lithium-iron-phosphate cells which are more stable, safer and efficient that the familiar lithium-ion and the battery is an integral part of the chassis platform to keep down centre of gravity and reduce weight.
Both are highly specified as standard but the 70% more powerful model gets enhanced suspension and recalibrated software to strengthen driver appeal.
Equipment-wise, standard are a full-length fixed sunroof, hidden door handles, electric bootlid, 19-inch alloys, LED intelligent headlights and wipers, double-glazed front windows, leather upholstery and wheel finish, Wifi and charge ports, electric seats, air conditioning and air purifier, heat pump, parking camera and sensors, intelligent cruise control and lane assist with rear cross traffic alert, 15.6-inch rotating infotainment screen containing navigation, Dynaudio sound controls for the 12 speakers, voice assistant and mobile phone compatibility.
Both powertrains come with four modes to match conditions and driving desires, eco, normal, sport or individual while the Excellence-AWD gets the enhanced suspension and also a head-up instrument display.
The Seal has already received the maximum five-star EuroNCAP safety rating and is the first of the marque to feature their X-face styling.
At the Seal launch, BYD UK head of marketing Mark Blundell said he was confident the new sports saloons would prove popular with buyers who may be considering BMW i4, Polestar2 or Tesla 3 models but wanted something different and eye catching with rarity value.
There is no firm idea on which will prove more popular, the 2WD or 4WD, but given the current weather conditions, maybe the more expensive versions will win over greater numbers of drivers as the sales network builds.
On intensely rain-washed and poorly surfaced country roads, the Seal Design was rarely thrown off line but delivered strong acceleration with good roadholding.
It was a bit noisy over bumps because it otherwise lacked any mechanical noise and the teardrop shape slipped through the air with barely a whisper.
Better topped main roads meant the Design could be given its head and it put me in mind of some familiar saloons from German brands costing a good bit more.
The test distance was too short to measure the likely range but experience has taut me to calculate it may well be about 270 miles in mixed driving.
Seats were comfortable with reasonable support and adjustment infront, less deeply shaped in the back and the elbow room might be tight for three behind.
It is a stylish car without being outlandish as some Far Eastern brands can be and it’s packed with features to delight drivers and passengers, notably the rotating infographic panel for easy navigation along unfamiliar routes.
All that remains is to see if this newcomer gets as wide a wide seal of approval as BYD hopes.
Model: BYD Seal Design RWD
Mechanical: 313ps single-motor, 82.5kWh LFP battery Max Speed: 112mph
0-62mph: 5.9 sec
Range: 354 miles claimed
Insurance Group: 48 TBC
C02 emissions: Zero
Bik rating: 2%, £Zero FY and SR
Warranty: mso-bidi-font-weight:bold”>6 yrs/ 93,000 miles
Size: L4.80m, W1.88m, H1.46m
Bootspace: 453 litres combined
For: Stylish, very well equipped, good performance and range, attractive BIK rating, comfortable
Against: Emerging brand, lots of road noise, average room inside, expensive insurance. By Robin Roberts Miles Better News Agency