There's an insidious new competitor to the Tesla Model Y. The BYD Seal U, the Chinese manufacturer's first real SUV designed for Europe and to match Elon Musk's creation. Price competitiveness is the aspect that most characterises the two models, which in reality have quite different features, from the interior philosophy to the engines.

The exterior

Both belonging to the D segment, the BYD Seal U and the Tesla Model Y interpret the SUV concept differently. The BYD has a more traditional, squarer look (even if it remains futuristic), while the Tesla opts for a simpler style with lots of curves.

These design differences translate into slightly different proportions. While the length is similar (4.77 m for the BYD and 4.75 m for the Tesla), the Chinese SUV is 1.67 m tall, 7 cm higher than the Model Y, which nonetheless benefits from a 13 cm longer wheelbase (2.89 m compared with 2.76 m).

<p>Tesla Model Y</p>

Tesla Model Y

<p>BYD Seal U</p>

BYD Seal U

Of course, the two models do not go unnoticed thanks to a number of details. The BYD stands out in particular for its front lights and grille with large chrome slats, as well as for its rear section which takes up the company's 'Ocean Aesthethics' styling theme.

For its part, the Model Y now has an iconic and instantly recognisable look, which can become sportier and more aggressive if you opt for the Performance version. This adds special alloy wheels, red brake callipers and a carbon-fibre spoiler.

Model Length (m) Width (m) Height (m) Wheelbase (m)
Tesla Model Y 4.75 1.85 1.60 2.89
BYD Seal U 4.77 1.89 1.67 2.76

Interior

Inside, BYD Seal U aims to convey a sense of sustainability, using vegan leather for the seats, parts of the dashboard, door panels and centre console, enhanced by double contrast stitching.

A special touch is the crystal gear knob, which reflects the ocean-inspired design theme. The panoramic roof can be opened electrically and the Design trim includes an air purification system with an internal PM2.5 filter.

The Intelligent Cockpit system in the Chinese SUV offers 4G connectivity, integrated navigation with Spotify and HERE, smartphone integration via Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and voice control. All this is controlled by BYD's signature 15.6-inch swivel screen, while driver information is displayed on a 12.3-inch LCD screen on the dashboard.

<p>Tesla Model Y, the interior</p>

Tesla Model Y, the interior

<p>BYD Seal U, interior</p>

BYD Seal U, interior

The Tesla Model Y takes the concept of minimalism to the extreme, with an extremely uncluttered dashboard dominated by a 15-inch touchscreen that controls virtually everything. From infotainment to comfort functions, every aspect of the vehicle can be managed directly from the central screen.

Even the seats follow a minimalist design and are available in black or white. The Tesla also comes with a fixed panoramic roof and a large, well-used boot with a minimum capacity of 600 litres, in addition to the 117 litres in the front 'frunk' compartment.

Model Digital instrumentation Central monitor Luggage compartment capacity
Tesla Model Y Not available 15" + 600 litres boot 117 litres
BYD Seal U 12,3" 15" 425/1 440 litres

Engines

The Seal is available in a 100% electric version and a plug-in hybrid version. In the first case, the powertrain consists of a front-mounted electric motor developing 218 PS and 310 Nm (330 Nm if the Design variant is chosen), with the option of combining it with a 71.8 kWh or 87 kWh battery. The version equipped with the smaller battery can travel around 261 miles and recharge at 115 kW, while the version with the larger battery has a range of 311 miles and a maximum charging speed of 140 kW.

In the coming months, the BYD range will be completed by the DM-i equipped with a 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and one or two electric motors, depending on the variant. Maximum power is 214 PS and 300 Nm in the entry-level BYD, while the more powerful Design increases to 319 PS and 550 Nm, thanks to the twin electric motors and all-wheel drive. Two batteries: 18.3 kWh and 26.6 kWh, with a maximum electric range of 78 miles.

<p>Tesla Model Y</p>

Tesla Model Y

<p>BYD Seal U</p>

BYD Seal U

The Tesla Model Y is available in four versions: RWD, Long Range RWD, Long Range AWD and Performance, with power outputs of 320 PS, 514 PS and 534 PS respectively. The Performance version is the most powerful, with a sprint from 0 to 62 mph in just 3.7 seconds and a top speed of 155 mph.

Range varies depending on the model: the RWD version, equipped with a 50 kWh battery, offers a range of 283 miles. The Long Range version, fitted with a 75 kWh battery, has a range of 331 miles, while the Performance version, also fitted with a 75 kWh battery, offers a combined cycle range of 319 miles.

Price

Prices in the UK have not been announced yet, however, as a reference the Seal U can be purchased in Comfort and Design versions in mainland Europe, with prices starting at €41,890 (approx. £35,600 at the current exchange rate) for the former and €45,390 (£38,600) for the latter, while prices for the plug-in hybrid version have yet to be announced.

Prices for the Model Y start at €44,990 (also £44,990 officially in UK) for the 320 PS RWD version and rise to €57,990 (£59,990) for the Performance version. In between, there's the Long Range RWD model (not offered in UK) at €46,990 and the Long Range AWD model at €51,990 (£52,990).

Model Minimum price Maximum price
Tesla Model Y €42,690  €57,990
BYD Seal U €42,890

€45,890