Seal of approval from BYD

THE third all-electric model from BYD has been launched in the UK with the arrival of the high performance Seal saloon.

Hot on the heels of the Atto 3 SUV and the smaller Dolphin hatch, the Seal shows exactly what has made the Chinese firm the largest manufacturer of electric vehicles in the world.

The Seal is a family-sized car and comes in two specifications - Design and Excellence - with the latter possessing a Porsche-like turn of speed.

It's priced from £45,696 in rear-wheel drive Design form and £48,695 in all-wheel drive Excellence set up which for a vehicle with such credentials is very competitive.

Powered by twin electric motors, the Seal Excellence develops a total of 530ps resulting in a 0 to 62mph acceleration time of 3.8 seconds while the single motor Design model manages the sprint in 5.9 seconds.

Top speed for both is 111mph and the RWD version has an official range of up to 354 miles with the AWD rated at 323 miles of a full charge.

Recharging to 80 per cent capacity from a fast charger can be done in 26 minutes and a heat pump is fitted as standard to aid efficiency.

Since its creation in 1995 BYD has become a global leader in battery technology - its batteries being used in half of the iPads Apple has produced - and the Blade battery it has developed for its EVs is a game changer for electric vehicles.

In the Seal, BYD has developed what it calls Cell-to-Body technology in which the battery forms the floor of the vehicle freeing up space inside compared to other EVs and creating a very strong body structure.

It gives the car a 50:50 weight distribution which makes for excellent handling and on our drive in the Seal Excellence - in some atrociously wet conditions - it was incredibly grippy and sure footed.

The same was true of the rear-wheel drive Design which showed good composure although the lack of drive to the front axle made it feel lighter to drive.

Both can be very brisk yet the power delivery is well controlled and it is hard to fault the Seal when it comes to all round refinement.

The car is 4.8 metres long which is similar to a BMW 3 Series and has a 400 litre boot with further space under the bonnet in a 53 litre frunk.

Gone is BYD's Build Your Dreams legend from the rear of the car which has been replaced with a simple BYD Seal badge on the boot and the car's flowing lines are set off with some stylish lighting effects including a band of four curved light strips set either side of the front apron below LED headlights.

At the rear there's a lighting strip stretching side to side across the boot which features a dot matrix effect said to emulate water droplets - part of the Ocean styling theme it uses on its latest models which has been created by BYD's design chief Wolfgang Egger, former head of design at Audi and Lamborghini.

Coupe-like styling gives the car sporty, aerodynamic lines all set off with features such as retractable door handles and plenty of glass including a panoramic roof which lead to an airy feel in the cabin.

The interior is in keeping with the Seal's premium status and includes BYD's characteristic 15.6-inch rotating display screen which can be switched from landscape to portrait orientation and controls most of the vehicle's functions such as the navigation, air conditioning and access to a variety of apps.

The Seal is also fitted with a 10.25-inch LCD instrument panel which Is much more user-friendly than the smaller displays seen in the Atto 3 and Dolphin.

There's also a crystal drive selector which sits at the front of a circular control panel on top of the centre console which operates the likes of the heated windows, volume settings and drive modes - of which there are four for sport, normal, eco and snowy conditions.

BYD has developed a clever traction system for the Seal which it calls Intelligent Torque Adaption Control which is a rapid system for adjusting the vehicle's power distribution automatically to reduce skid risks and improve all round handling.

Inside, the Seal is well appointed, comfortable and has plenty of room, especially in the back where it can seat three with a good amount of leg and head room despite the sloping roof line.

There are more than 20 storage spaces including an armrest box in the centre with more space below the console.

BYD is now the world's largest producer of electric vehicles - outstripping Tesla - and has sold more than 5.7 million EVs so far.

It may be a newcomer in the UK but with a growing dealer network and its vehicles coming with a six year warranty - eight for the battery and motor - it is very serious about the British EV market.

Having sampled all three of the models BYD has brought to the UK so far there is much to commend them and the Seal - as the new flagship for the brand - is the best yet.