The mid-size SUV market is full of models with a range of powertrains, from conventional petrol and diesel to electric and varying degrees of electrification. Many competitors have recently seen the arrival of the BYD Seal U, a 4.71-metre SUV available in both electric and plug-in versions.

It's a model that's always ready to go, with an impressive interior and fine finishes, which also offers space for all the family. When choosing the PHEV version, however, you have to make some compromises.

BYD Seal U, the dashboard

The layout of the BYD Seal U's dashboard partly resembles that of Tesla, with the large 15.6-inch screen placed in the centre. The special feature, present on all the Chinese manufacturer's models, is that it can be rotated 90°, so that it can be arranged horizontally or vertically as desired, with the graphics adapting automatically. An appreciable convenience combined with the 'wow' effect. The graphics are simple and intuitive, halfway between a tablet and classic infotelematics. Equipped with a host of features, including climate controls, it also integrates Android Auto and Apple CarPlay wirelessly.

 

In front of the driver, on the other hand, is the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, with the option of displaying various screens, including navigation, driver assistants and so on. The graphics are very pleasing, although some of the icons - such as the one used to set the distance to vehicles in front - are decidedly small. The standard head-up display, which projects information directly onto the screen, completes the picture.

Beneath the dashboard is the dual induction plate for charging smartphones, while the central tunnel houses the gear selector, flanked by a few touch-sensitive buttons and two cup holders, for a minimalist design that dispenses almost entirely with physical controls.

Connectivity

The BYD Seal U is technological not only in its hardware but also in its software as an advanced voice assistant and OTA (over the air) updates are available, so you can receive the latest firmware versions without having to go to the workshop.

BYD Seal U  
Digital instrumentation 12.3-inch
Head Up Display Yes
Central monitor 15.6-inch
Mirroring Android Auto (Wireless)
Apple CarPlay (Wireless)
OTA Yes
Voice Assistant Yes

BYD Seal U, quality and materials

For some time now, Chinese cars have been making a remarkable leap forward in terms of interior quality, and the BYD Seal U is certainly no exception. Right from the start, you appreciate the overall build quality, with materials that are pleasant to the touch - soft on top - and well crafted. Elements such as the interior lighting, which extends from one side of the dashboard to the other, add to the perception of quality.

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

BYD Seal U, interior

The standard equipment is particularly rich, with premium brand features such as electrically adjustable, ventilated and heated seats and the PM2.5 air filter, which reduces the amount of fine dust in the cabin.

BYD Seal U, the space

With a length of 4.71 metres and a platform designed for electric cars, the BYD Seal U offers plenty of space in the passenger compartment. Even tall passengers are comfortable in the rear, with plenty of height and length. The centre tunnel is virtually non-existent, even on the plug-in version.

<p>BYD Seal U, the rear seats</p>

BYD Seal U, rear seats

<p>BYD Seal U, the boot</p>

BYD Seal U, the boot

 

The boot offers 552 litres in the electric version, while the PHEV has to contend with the presence of the petrol tank and drops to 425 litres, below the segment average.