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New BYD Seal U coming to the UK as a plug-in hybrid

The Chinese SUV enters the fierce family SUV market with plug-in hybrid tech

  • Plug-in hybrid only
  • Five-seat SUV layout
  • Coming to the UK in the summer

BYD, the Chinese manufacturer known for its range of electric cars, has revealed a new model at the 2024 Geneva Motor Show – the BYD Seal U – and it represents new territory for the brand in the UK. Unlike the electric BYD Dolphin, Atto 3 and Seal, the Seal U is a plug-in hybrid, using both a petrol engine and an electric motor.

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Its five-door SUV bodystyle aims the BYD Seal U directly at other plug-in hybrid family cars, such as the Nissan Qashqai and Kia Sportage, both big sellers here in the UK. We expect the Seal U to be priced competitively against these rivals when it goes on sale in the summer.

What do I need to know about the BYD Seal U?

The BYD Seal U differs greatly from the rest of the brand’s UK lineup, with its ‘DM-i’ plug-in hybrid powertrain. It uses a 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and a small electric motor, powered by a 18.3kWh battery. Performance figures will be revealed in due course, but the electrical assistance should provide nippier acceleration and better fuel efficiency than a typical family SUV without a hybrid system.

There’s an electric-only driving mode for silently snaking through town, with BYD quoting a 60-mile range using the old NEDC testing cycle – there’s no word on official WLTP range and fuel-efficiency figures yet. The battery can be charged either at home or at a public fast charger, the latter taking 35 minutes to complete a 30-80% top-up at 18kW charging speeds.

At 4,775mm long, the Seal U is longer than both the Qashqai and the Sportage, but smaller than the Kia Sorento. Styling cues, including the headlights and swooping bonnet creases, draw inspiration from the BYD Seal saloon, but the tail-lights, bumpers and alloy wheel designs are unique to the Seal U.

Inside the Seal U, you get a giant 15.6-inch infotainment touchscreen that can rotate between landscape and portrait. The driver gets a digital display, too, for important driving information, along with a suite of assistance and safety aids. Vegan leather upholstery and ambient lighting give the interior a ‘premium feel’, according to BYD.

How much will the BYD Seal U cost and when can I order one?

There’s no UK-specific pricing information yet, but a starting price of around £40,000 wouldn’t be unexpected when it goes on sale this summer.

There are plenty of plug-in hybrid cars to choose from in 2024 – read our top 10 list of the best...

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