Weighing just under 3.7 tonnes, the Yangwang U8 is a real monster. How does something like this drive? Our colleagues from Italy had the opportunity to get behind the wheel in China. Here is the report ...


It's raining cats and dogs on the Guangdong International Circuit. The sky is even greyer than usual and the water seems to be coming out of the clouds like buckets. Perhaps not exactly ideal conditions for a drive on the racetrack.

Or maybe they are. It all depends on what you have to drive, and more importantly, how you have to do it. Maybe that's why I had the time of my life aboard the YangWang U8, an extraordinary vehicle that could seem almost nonsensical from different angles.

Gallery: 2024 BYD Yangwang U8 Premium Edition

What do I mean by that? To start, the U8, the debut vehicle of the new luxury brand YangWang, which is part of the BYD Group, weighs 3,640 kilograms. But that doesn't stop it from reaching 0-62 mph in 3.6 seconds. It also has no fewer than five motors: four electric motors and a petrol engine that acts as a power generator, giving it a total output of 1,200 PS and 1,280 Nm. Impressive, isn't it? So, now you're beginning to understand me.

Go unnoticed? No, definitely not.

Before you even move it, the U8 is already breathtaking to look at. With a length of 5.32 metres, a width of 2.05 metres and a height of 1.93 metres, it naturally has XXL dimensions, but it's not the size that impresses so much as the styling.

At the front, the grille and headlights blend together, with one becoming part of the other and vice versa, giving a very strong and confident visual impression.

Yangwang U8 Premium Edition

YangWang U8

On the side, there are horizontal elements that provide dynamism, while in general there is a certain inspiration from the Land Rover Defender. The wheels are 22 inches in size.

At the rear, the vertical LED lights are interrupted and eye-catching, while the spare wheel on the side-hinged tailgate stands out. Wolfgang Egger, a former Alfa Romeo and Audi designer who has been working for the Chinese giant since 2016, is responsible for the design of the U8, as for all BYD Group vehicles.

The interior leaves you open-mouthed

Many reading this article will still have the idea that Chinese cars are sloppily made on the inside. However, the 2024 Beijing Motor Show provided me with tangible proof that this is by no means the case. neither for the affordable BYD Seagull, which will also be launched in Europe in 2025, and certainly not for the U8, which represents the pinnacle of the Group's portfolio.

Yangwang U8 Premium Edition

YangWang U8

On board the U8, I am greeted by a wealth of first-class materials, even in the deepest and most hidden places, which are very pleasant to the touch. The dashboard is symmetrical, so that both the driver and the front passenger have a 23.6-inch display to themselves, with different functions of course. The screen in the centre, on the other hand, measures 12.8 inches. The powerful on-board software impresses with its responsiveness and wealth of functions.

Yangwang U8 Premium Edition

YangWang U8

Coming back to the screens, I counted four more in the rear: two tablets behind the backrests, one at the bottom for the climate control and another integrated into the centre armrest when the fifth seat is not in use.

Better than nothing

I drove the U8, it's true, but I didn't say how long. Unfortunately, there were only two laps on the programme on the aforementioned track in Guangdong. But you know what? That's better than nothing, also because - as I mentioned earlier - I had a lot of fun. An electric all-wheel drive that skilfully and unobtrusively plays with torque is perhaps the best way to make fast progress on a wet track.

YangWang U8, first contact

YangWang U8

The YangWang U8 knows how to drift easily and perform pleasant, controlled stunts even on the huge 275 tyres. The thrust is hard to describe. Acceleration is rapid, but the electronically controlled air suspension stops the pitching superbly. When cornering, on the other hand, there are no miracles to be performed. I was impressed by the light but not insensitive steering.

YangWang U8, first contact

YangWang U8

These are the impressions I got from the short test drive. As for the drivetrain of the U8, it is particularly ingenious. As I said, it is a combination of a 2.0-litre petrol engine and four electric motors. The interesting thing is that the petrol engine only functions as a power generator, i.e. it is not a traction motor. This is similar to the Mazda MX-30 R-EV.

But that's not all, because the U8 is also plug-in capable as it has a 49 kWh battery which, according to the manufacturer, enables a range of around 112 miles. According to the manufacturer, the combined range is 621 miles.

YangWang U8, first contact

YangWang U8

A special plug-in system that is set to equip many other BYD Group models in further configurations, starting with the Seal U DM-i, will be launched on the European market in 2024. I can't wait to drive this car, this time not so much to be amazed by its performance, but to test the real efficiency of its powertrain. Let's just hope it doesn't rain.

More than a car, a manifesto

One of the advantages of the U8 is the fact that the motors can move the wheels independently, allowing it to turn itself in a "tank turn" just like the new Mercedes G 580 Electric. A function that is certainly more beautiful than useful, but it is only one extreme of functions that are perhaps more useful on slippery terrain.

Yangwang U8 Premium Edition

YangWang U8

There would be so much more to say about the innovations in the U8, from the central control unit developed with Nvidia to the technological features that include the wide use of Lidar (did you notice the three little humps on the roof?) or, once again, the first full integration with a drone housed inside the roof.

OK, I know many of you were already thinking "Yeah, but what's the point?" when you read the title of this article. Perhaps nothing in practice, but the U8 is certainly more than a car. It is a clear demonstration of the level of technology that cars have today, at least some of them that are produced in China. So it seems clear to me, it's time to abandon all preconceptions.

Gallery: YangWang U8, first contact