The BYD Seal's performance is unmatched in its price segment.
The BYD Seal's performance is unmatched in its price segment.Shot by Avdhoot A Kolhe for evo India

BYD Seal first drive review

Fast car for cheap is a tuner’s formula for success. And that’s why, the BYD Seal is breaking the internet!

Five hundred horsepower for fifty lakh rupees used to be an equation reserved for those daring enough to tinker with tuning companies in India's automotive scene. But as electric vehicles continue to push the boundaries of performance, the game is evolving. Take the BYD Seal, for instance. Its top-spec Performance variant offers a staggering 523bhp for just Rs 53 lakh, shaking up the industry with its affordability and power. The Seal made waves upon its launch, breaking the internet with this revolutionary equation. Contrasting this, the next 500+ horsepower contender, the BMW M4, demands a hefty Rs 1.47 crore, almost triple the price of the Seal. Naturally, our curiosity was piqued, and we were eager to experience it firsthand. However, if you're here for a review of that specific variant, you'll have to wait a little longer. During our press drives of the Seal, BYD could only provide us with the mid-spec Premium variant. Does it deliver the thrill of driving? We took the Seal on a highway run to find out.

Design and styling of the BYD Seal

There’s an old video of Elon Musk on the internet where he laughs off BYD for the products they used to make. The designs were from back in the Nineties and the company had just about started international operations. Today, BYD is the biggest electric carmaker in the world, overtaking Tesla, and to signify their intent of taking on Tesla directly, they launched the Seal to compete with the Model 3. BYD wanted to show that it now has the design and engineering capabilities to match the best in the world, and one look at the Seal will prove they’ve got it right. It’s a sleek sedan with narrow headlights, a swooping roofline and a neat and cohesive rear end design. The door handles tuck in flush with the body, the alloys are aerodynamically designed and every contour looks right in place, except for the fins on the fenders, although that is something you can easily ignore since the Seal is a striking design, and it looks expensive. Not many have seen BYDs on Indian roads so the attention this car gets is immense, even in this stealthy black paint job. In fact, the black colour is arguably the best one on the Seal. The design is inspired by the ‘ocean’, with ripple motifs in the DRLs and the design elements all around the car. Initial impressions dispel any notion of a budget Chinese car, a sentiment echoed by the 200 orders secured within a day of its launch.

The BYD Seal gets aerodynamically designed wheels.
The BYD Seal gets aerodynamically designed wheels.Shot by Avdhoot A Kolhe for evo India

Interior and features of the BYD Seal

Step in and the restraint in design is evident. With the Atto 3, BYD went over the top with the concept and design of the interior but with the Seal, the brief must have been to make the space welcoming for a more mature audience. You won’t see bright colours and excessive design anywhere in the Seal except for maybe the seat quilting. Everything from the switchgear to the buttons are nicely damped, the crystalline drive selector adds a touch of premiumness and the massive laptop-sized infotainment screen swivels from landscape to portrait to add an extra bit of drama on the inside. You can’t rotate it when you are using Apple CarPlay/Android Auto though. Nevertheless, the screen is responsive and the display is crisp. It is also easy to use however there are way too many functions packed in the screen, including controlling the air-conditioning. Air-con controls are best left to a set of buttons considering how frequently they need to be tweaked. 

The infotainment screen can be rotated from horizontal to vertical.
The infotainment screen can be rotated from horizontal to vertical.Shot by Avdhoot A Kolhe for evo India

The front seats are comfortable and you get heating and cooling for the front passengers, a good driving position and a lot of storage space. For large bags, there’s space under the centre tunnel, enough space in the door pockets and the centre armrest and the driver’s side cup holder depresses to allow space for taller cups. Move to the rear and the rear bench is also equally comfortable with a slightly sportier angled seat that offers good under-thigh support. There’s good head and knee room in the Seal, however, one drawback of the batteries in the floor is a high floor that is almost flush with the base of the front seats. You can’t tuck your feet in when you sit in the back seat. The airiness in the cabin is courtesy a large tinted panoramic sunroof, that for some reason doesn’t come with a blind. This is the peak of summer and I could see the aircon fans work overtime to keep the cabin cool. The glass does feel too hot during the day. You get a small frunk and a 400 litre boot that should be spacious enough for more than a weekend’s luggage, however if you don’t have passengers in the rear seat, they can be flipped down to swallow a lot more than your weekend’s luggage.

Performance, battery and range of the BYD Seal

Of the three variants of the BYD Seal, the Premium (midrange) variant balances performance and range. You get 308bhp and 360Nm to play with, and courtesy a low drag coefficient of 0.219, the Seal can do the 0-100kmph sprint in a claimed 5.9 seconds. The on-board data even showed me a 5.8 second run. And the Seal will do that all day. It is powered by a single motor sending electricity to the rear axle which arguably is the better axle to power. The front is left for steering duties, and because there’s plenty of performance on tap, the Seal was engineered for a sportier drive. More on that in the next section. What you get is 650km of WLTP range from the 82.56kWh battery and fast charging capability at all times. The Premium and Performance variants of the Seal can take up to 150kWh of fast charging and 7kWh of AC charging. The base Dynamic variant can handle a maximum of 110kWh. That said, on average, we don’t get more than 60kWh chargers on the highways of India. A full charge should take about 1.5 hours in that case.

The top-spec AWD variant is solid value but even the Premium variant with its extra 70km of range makes a good case for itself.

The BYD Seal gets flush door handles.
The BYD Seal gets flush door handles.Shot by Avdhoot A Kolhe for evo India

Ride and handling of the BYD Seal

Sitting at 120kmph on the new Delhi-Mumbai expressway in the BYD Seal felt effortless. The way the Seal glides over undulations and expansion joints, the eagerness in direction changes all points at a very well engineered product. It isn’t loose or wallowy at high speeds and there is good weight in the steering. You always know you are driving a sporty sedan that isn’t just going to be a straight line hero. The Premium and Performance variants get ventilated discs so stopping power is good too. We didn’t come across any corners that would test the Seal’s handling capabilities but going by the sorted damping and steering, I reckon it could be a fun car to drive in the hills. The AWD Seal could be a blisteringly quick car up a winding road. Even the ground clearance at 145mm is a good number. The tyres have acceptable 45 section sidewalls and at no point, it felt like I’d be scraping the underbelly. You could drive long distances in the Seal without getting too tired or worried.

Verdict on the BYD Seal

I came in to the drive expecting a lot of flaws. The performance for price equation of the BYD Seal is so wonky, the next sporty electric sedan offering similar levels of performance is the BMW i4, that costs over 50 per cent more than the Seal. We aren’t even comparing electric and petrol cars here. So what is the catch? Well, there seems to be none. The car is packed to the gills with features, has the ride quality of a European car and looks smashing too. One could argue that BYD is able to price its products so well because of the subsidies given by China, however, from an end user’s point of view, would you care if you got a high quality product for a steal? That’s BYD’s case for affluent Indians planning to buy an electric sedan. Going by the 200 bookings BYD scored within a day of the Seal’s launch, I think we know the answer.

Related Stories

No stories found.
Evo India