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    BYD Seal First Drive Review

    Authors Image

    Bilal Ahmed Firfiray

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    BYD Seal Right Front Three Quarter
    BYD Seal Right Front Three Quarter
    BYD Seal Right Front Three Quarter
    BYD Seal Right Front Three Quarter
    BYD Seal Right Side View
    BYD Seal Right Side View
    BYD Seal Right Rear Three Quarter
    BYD Seal Right Rear Three Quarter

    Why would I buy it?

    • Strong performance
    • Battery management system
    • Good looks and features

    Why would I avoid it?

    • Limited sales and service network
    • Stiff ride
    • Limited headroom

    What is it?

    Left Front Three Quarter

    They say, the third time's the charm, and this is the third all-new offering from BYD here in India. It's called the Seal (as it’s the second car from BYD’s new ‘ocean series’ after the Dolphin), and it's an all-electric premium sedan. With three variants on offer, the starting price for the Seal is Rs 41 lakh. But does the Seal pack in the necessary charm to woo the buyers of other premium sedans viz. BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class? Let's find out.

    Right Rear Three Quarter

    With a low-slung nose, 4.8m length, and a notchback-like silhouette, the Seal has a good mixture of contemporary yet conventional design. Then the elongated wheelbase and low height with clean sheet metal work add to the Seal’s styling. As we have seen with the Atto 3, there are a lot of interesting details sprinkled all around. Be it the sleek headlamps, gills on the side skirts, pop-up door handles, character lines on the bonnet doors and fenders, race-car-like diffusers at the back, and the five-petal-shaped 19-inch aero wheels, they all make the BYD Seal a very handsome looking sedan and it does manage to turn heads effortlessly.

    How is it on the inside?

    Dashboard

    Now the Seal is a low-slung car so getting in takes a tad bit extra effort than you would in a normal sedan. And the party piece (like the rotating screen) aside, the cabin of the Seal makes you feel like you are sitting in a much more expensive sedan. Where the fit and finish are impressive, the concoction of materials used inside this sedan is well executed as well. With soft-touch materials used at all the right places; even the plastic feels smooth and nice with the appeal of a futuristic cabin.

    Front Row Seats

    What surprised me the most was its overall in-cabin ergonomics. Not only is the visibility all around phenomenally good, but the buttons and controls are also easy to reach and get comfortable with. The centre console does have a lot of buttons for a car that has kind of eliminated all the buttons in favour of a large screen, but these buttons are useful ones, especially on the go. Coming to the front seats, they are one of the best one this side of the supercar territory. We experienced good seats in the Atto 3, but the Seal takes things many notches higher. They feel more like a sim-racing chair with bucket-seat bolstering.

    Infotainment System

    As for the rotating screen, it feels like using a really large smartphone. There's zero lag from the buttons, and the touch is smooth and very well-defined. A tactile feedback would have been helpful with slightly more tasteful colours. But it’s right up there with the best when it comes to usability and intuitiveness. Although it comes with built-in Spotify, the inclusion of other OTT platforms like the ones you get in Tata's Arcade.ev interface would have made it more likeable.

    Rear Seats

    Surprisingly, getting in the second row is much easier, thanks to the wide opening and long wheelbase. Even the seats hug you properly in the right contours but it's not meant to seat a third person in the middle owing to the protruding and hardened back support. Further, you have ample legroom and the view outside the windows is comfortable as well but the headroom is tight. The fixed glass roof extends to the back, and despite that the headroom is tight even for my frame (I am 5.5’), so taller passengers will not be comfortable here. Lastly, one of the benefits of a sedan is the humongous boot space which is also seen here.

    How is it to drive?

    What we have here is the mid-spec Premium trim which is the value-for-money version of the three variants. It has a bigger 82.6kWh battery pack compared to the entry-level 61.kWh and has an output for 308bhp from a single, rear-axle mounted motor. Although it has 360Nm of twisting force, available from the get-go, the Seal tips the scale at almost two tonnes. Akin to the Atto 3 (which has just over 200bhp) the acceleration off the mark for the Seal is not neck-snappingly quick.

    Gear Selector Dial

    Even if you are in the sportiest setting, the acceleration is gradual. Not that the Seal is not a fast car, and the 0-100kmph time of 5.9 seconds is nothing to scoff at. If you still think it’s slow, then you should consider buying the 3.8 seconds, AWD, twin-motor Performance version instead. But the way the Seal accelerates is more user-friendly and docile compared to other EVs out there. Once on the move, the Seal has light controls, good visibility all around, and an entirely silent cabin. At times, when cruising on the highway, the only thing heard inside the cabin is the wheel going over the road joints. There are two settings for regen, which don’t feel any different from each other, plus there’s no one-pedal mode here.

    Left Front Three Quarter

    With a full ADAS suite, the steering feels overly assisted but is quick and predictive. It also remains consistent at slow speeds and has good weight when doing highway pace. There's barely any understeer, despite over 300bhp going to the rear wheels. There's no way to turn off the traction control and almost impossible to get the tail out of this electric sedan. This also means the Seal doesn't unsettle even if you are carrying slightly higher speeds through a sharp corner.

    Coming back to ADAS, we weren't able to test them all out in the limited time we had with the Seal. In terms of ride quality, the Seal is firmly strung. So over the undulation, you do feel the Seal struggling to maintain its composure. Despite that, it's not too bad over other not-so-bad surfaces, aided by the 45-profile Continental tyres worn by those 19-inch wheels. Over most speed-breakers, we never had to worry about scrapping the belly, except over the ill-made ones.

    Left Rear Three Quarter

    With BYD’s expertise in their blade batteries, the drop in displayed range throughout our time with the car was gradual, and slow if not implausible. We think over 90 per cent of its claimed range of 650km in a single charge is achievable in real-world conditions.

    Should you buy one?

    Left Rear Three Quarter

    The BYD Seal is not a car you should overlook given its scarce sales and service network or being an electric sedan amidst a wave of E-SUVs. It is a well-packaged EV which is ahead of time yet is also conventional to live with. Not only is it comfortable to drive, it is loaded to the gill with features along with some party pieces thrown in. Sure the second row might be tight for three and even tighter for taller passengers, and the BYD’s current sales network may and will put off a few buyers. All things considered, the BYD Seal has the potential to give you a good alternative instead of the German sedans nonetheless.

    Pictures by Kapil Angane and Ajinkya Lad

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