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Review: BYD Seal Performance - The current RM 200k BEV champ?

Shaun · Jun 20, 2024 06:26 PM

Review: BYD Seal Performance - The current RM 200k BEV champ? 01

When the Tesla Model Y was introduced here in Malaysia, I described it as a “no-brainer” for a RM 200k battery electric vehicle (BEV), given its space, practicality, and the benefits of the Tesla ecosystem.

But since then, there’s been quite a few new BEVs in the sub-RM 200k BEV market with the likes of the Smart #1GWM Ora 07, and this, the BYD Seal. Prices for the BYD Seal start from RM 180k for the Premium variant to RM 200k for the Performance variant, which is what we have here.

Overview: BYD Seal Performance
Price RM 189,000
Powertrain Dual-motor AWD
Battery capacity 82.5 kWh
Charging 7 kW AC, 150 kW DC, CCS2
Range Up to 520 km (WTLP)
Power 530 PS
Torque 670 Nm
0-100 Km/h 4.08 seconds (as tested)
Origin CBU, China

Has it shaken up the status quo in the RM 200k BEV segment? Let’s dig into it.

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Exterior - No bad angles

Review: BYD Seal Performance - The current RM 200k BEV champ? 01

It’s a handsome looking thing, going so far as to say it’s a head-turner. I’ve yet to come across an individual who doesn't appreciate the design of the BYD Seal. A quick search revealed that BYD's design studio has been led by German design veteran Wolfgang Egger since 2016. Egger had a hand in the Alfa Romeo 8C, so it’s no wonder that the Seal is a looker.

Review: BYD Seal Performance - The current RM 200k BEV champ? 02

Being in BYD’s ‘Ocean Series,’ the Seal embraces its marine-inspired name. If you look closely, you'll see 'gills' behind the front wheels and at the end of the sill, as well as 'scales' on the C-pillar. This design makes the Tesla Model 3 seem bland in comparison.

There’s also a sense of fluidity in its body’s curves and lines, and an impressive drag coefficient of just 0.219Cd. Both the front and rear styling elements are equally attractive, especially with their lighting features. There isn't a bad angle to be found.

Interior - Pleasantly plush

Review: BYD Seal Performance - The current RM 200k BEV champ? 03

Stepping inside, the first thing you’ll probably notice is the giant rotating screen, measuring at 15.6 inches. Resolution is high and it’s quick to respond, but as with all BYD models, the grouping of menus and sub-menus aren’t immediately intuitive and you’ll end up cycling through all the layers of sub-menus to find for the settings you’re looking for. Also not forgetting the weird translations.

The Dynaudio sound system is generally pleasing, delivering a warm sound that emphasises the bass while still maintaining good clarity in the higher frequencies. But it doesn’t quite have the depth and layers I was hoping it would have.

Review: BYD Seal Performance - The current RM 200k BEV champ? 04

The 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster is far less cluttered than the tiny screen in the Atto 3. It has a shortcut for basic climate control adjustments, like temperature and fan speed, accessible through the steering wheel buttons. This makes it slightly more convenient than navigating the central touchscreen but guess what would be even less distracting? Dedicated buttons.

Speaking of dedicated controls, an even more frustrating issue is the absence of physical tabs for adjusting the air vents. Navigating through menus to change the airflow direction is inconvenient and unintuitive, making it difficult to pinpoint the exact position you want.

There is an auto swing option similar to the one on your home A/C, but on a scorching hot day, you simply want the air directed at you.

Review: BYD Seal Performance - The current RM 200k BEV champ? 05

Air vents aside, overall quality is impressive, with the materials used on the top of the door panels feeling plush. The suede in the middle section of the interior adds a touch of class, enhancing its perceived quality. The seats are also quite plush, both in the front and rear. The glass roof makes the cabin feel a little more special, but as is usually the case, some heat does permeate through it.

A strange aspect I've noticed in all BYD models is an unpleasant cabin odour, somewhat reminiscent of a marker pen. Prolonged exposure to this smell can become quite nauseating.

Review: BYD Seal Performance - The current RM 200k BEV champ? 06

There are plenty of storage spaces, with a double-decker style centre console, a decently sized compartment beneath the center armrest, door bins that can fit a 1.5-liter water bottle, and a practical 'frunk.'

Review: BYD Seal Performance - The current RM 200k BEV champ? 07

Review: BYD Seal Performance - The current RM 200k BEV champ? 08

Space at the rear is more than adequate, with a two tennis balls worth of kneeroom for a 177 cm tall individual, and one tennis ball worth of headroom.

Driving Experience - Smooth operator with a surprise

Review: BYD Seal Performance - The current RM 200k BEV champ? 09

Unlike the Tesla Model 3, there’s little to no learning curve in driving the BYD Seal, it feels natural from the get-go. For one, it doesn’t default in one-pedal driving mode (because it doesn’t have one-pedal mode) and creeps upon selecting ‘D.’ It accelerates smoothly according to your throttle inputs and doesn’t regen brake aggressively upon lifting off.

As with most BEVs from China, there’s some throttle response manipulation as electric motors deliver all of its torque almost instantly. In all drive modes, flooring the accelerator ramps up power gradually, contributing to a sense of mutedness, though this isn’t as delayed as in the Smart #1. BEVs like the BMW i4 have a better-calibrated throttle response.

But once the power fully ramps up in this Performance variant, it does takes off like a sub-4 second car.

Review: BYD Seal Performance - The current RM 200k BEV champ? 10

The steering is linear but lacks real tactility or feedback, and feels like there’s a delay between steering input and the body reacting to it. This makes it somewhat challenging to accurately position the Seal on long, sweeping bends on highways. During those high-speed manoeuvres, its mass becomes apparent as you feel the weight leaning outwards.

The braking calibration could also use improvement, as it feels vague and doesn’t seamlessly blend regenerative braking with the mechanical brakes, occasionally giving the impression of air in the brake lines.

Review: BYD Seal Performance - The current RM 200k BEV champ? 11

On the positive side, the driving position is somewhat sporty – being able to be seated relatively low with legs stretched out, while the steering wheel has impressive reach adjustment.

Another sporty element is its surprising tendency to transition into a mild oversteer when cornering. It may be slightly nerve-wracking for some but for keen drivers, it’s a pleasant rotating feeling that aids cornering.

Review: BYD Seal Performance - The current RM 200k BEV champ? 12

There's a full range of ADAS here. In city driving, you might consider turning off the Active Lane-keep Assist, as it can be rather intrusive to the point of becoming unpleasant. Annoyingly, it's a bit buried in the menus.

Ride Comfort - Generally pliant

Review: BYD Seal Performance - The current RM 200k BEV champ? 13

For the most part, the Seal rides pliantly, effectively absorbing smaller bumps with a controlled, smooth motion, devoid of any noticeable underdamped floating sensation.

However, the Seal does exhibit noticeable lateral body movements, even for a sedan, which causes passengers to experience head toss. Also, sudden ruts or bumps can send an impact to the occupants, disrupting the otherwise serene cabin.

Review: BYD Seal Performance - The current RM 200k BEV champ? 14

The front seats are on the larger side, they feel well sculpted and are generally supportive. The rear seats have a decent recline angle, and the cabin floor is not raised too high, which results in a crouching position. This is commendable in a BEV.

Isolation is one of the Seal’s strengths. There’s minimal road texture or vibration that gets translated into the cabin, unlike the Tesla Model 3. And the impressive sound insulation with double-glazing windows mean that noise levels are remarkably low.

BYD Seal Performance - Cabin noise level
60 km/h 53 dB
90 km/h 57 dB
110 km/h 63 dB

Energy Consumption

Review: BYD Seal Performance - The current RM 200k BEV champ? 15

After completing a 151.5 km journey under mixed conditions, the trip computer displayed an average energy consumption of 16.9 kWh/100 km.

Review: BYD Seal Performance - The current RM 200k BEV champ? 16

However, after calculating based on the energy delivered from two consecutive charges to 80 percent, the actual efficiency was found to be 27.7 kWh/100 km.

This highlights a large disparity between the indicated and actual consumption rates, so it's advisable not to rely heavily on the car's estimated remaining range. For long-distance travel, it's best to charge at every opportunity.

Conclusion

Review: BYD Seal Performance - The current RM 200k BEV champ? 17

Back to the question, has the BYD Seal Performance shaken up the RM 200k BEV segment? In many ways, yes. For the price, there’s hardly another BEV or car in general that blends performance, looks, plush cabin, and exceptional isolation quite as well as the Seal.

Granted, it’s not the most engaging to drive (discounting the tendency to rotate in corners) due to its inherent nature to isolate the driver, but it’s a genuinely pleasant car to cruise around in tranquillity whilst enjoying its audio system.

Review: BYD Seal Performance - The current RM 200k BEV champ? 18

Unlike the Tesla Model 3 or Model Y, the learning curve isn't nearly as steep, and most controls are intuitively placed. From the "gear" selector and start/stop button to the stalks and instrument cluster, everything is right where you'd expect it. This setup feels more familiar and natural to most people, and there’s an appeal in that.

There's room for improvement in the software and calibration of driving controls, but are these deal-breakers? For most people, they likely aren't. Personally, they matter to me, although I completely understand why someone might prefer the Seal over the Model 3 or Model Y, and vice versa. At the end of the day, only you can decide which is the one for you.

Shaun

Senior Writer

The quest for automotive knowledge began as soon as the earliest memories. Various sources information, even questionable ones, have been explored including video games, television, magazines, or even internet forums. Still stuck in that rabbit hole.

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