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Panoramic test: The BYD Seal 3.8 S Excellence with 530 hp

The world number 1 in electric cars, BYD, intends to conquer Europe. After the unconvincing Atto 3 and Dolphin, Seal intends to put an end to the domination of the Tesla Model 3.


Chinese electric car giant, BYD (pronounced “BiOuaille-Di”) could see itself “putting an end to the old legends of the automobile”, in the words of its boss… The new Seal, a long 4.80 m family sedan, was designed with this objective in mind. Its top-of-the-range Excellence version, tested here, can be obtained for a check for €49,990. It is powered by two electric motors (one per axle to provide all-wheel drive), delivering a total of 530 hp and 670 Nm of torque. When you start, it pushes hard, very hard! Moreover, it is written on its trunk: “3.8 S”, the name of this version which evokes the 3s8 necessary to go from 0 to 100 km/h: promising! To power everything over a correct distance, the Seal inherits an 82 kWh battery: not bad, but not necessarily better than the others. More than on the capacity of its batteries, BYD is banking on their technology, with a reinforced honeycomb structure, cells assembled in blades placed in a vertical position, and chemistry based on lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) , supposed to be more efficient, more reliable, more stable, more resistant to shocks and high temperatures. Maximum range announced: 520 km. Alright ! Except that the technical sheet does not specify that this is about urban traffic. To obtain the theoretical average autonomy, we therefore divide the capacity of the battery (indicated in raw value, what’s more…) by the average consumption (18.2 kWh/100 km). Verdict: 450 km… Which would already be good. But during our test, the on-board computer displayed 25.9 kWh/100 km, giving us hope for barely more than 320 km! It must be said that the mass of the machine, packed with technology, does not help: almost 2.2 tonnes! We need energy to move all this. Heavy, the Seal does not make you forget its weight while driving, unlike a Tesla or a Hyundai: it is felt in the steering and braking. Nothing prohibitive, but the approval suffers a little. Good point all the same in terms of road holding: after the disastrous impressions left by the Atto 3 and Dolphin, the Seal pleasantly surprised us in terms of road behavior. If the front axle proves lazy to engage in the trajectory, it does not suffer a loss of traction, and the rear, locked by the electronics and the driving aids, is stuck to the asphalt. Reassuring. It just lacks a touch of agility to be really enjoyable. Positive point: suspension comfort ensures effective filtration of irregularities, without indulging in roll.

The real price: no discount to expect at the moment. The Design version, 313 hp propulsion, costs €46,990 (€41,990 bonus deducted) and our Excellence test model, at €49,990 (therefore without access to the bonus). That’s €1,000 less than a Model 3 Long Range, for the power of a Model 3 Performance.

The interview : a visit to the workshop every year or every 20,000 km.

Equipment: bloated and without options (see opposite).

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By grade

Safety: – ABS + AFU + ESP – Active AFIL – Head-up display – Airbags (6) – Level 2 semi-autonomous driving – Automatic emergency braking. (pedestrian and cyclist detection) – Reading of signs – Headlights (LEDs) and auto windshield wipers. – Adaptive cruise control/speed limiter – Blind spot monitoring, etc.

Approval : – Front/rear parking assistance + 360° camera – 60/40 folding seat – Bluetooth – Charging cables – Hands-free key – NFC connectivity – Auto air conditioning. dual zone – 15.6”/40 cm central touch screen – Connected GPS – 10.25”/26 cm digital instrumentation – 19” alloy wheels – Mirror Screen – Remote updates – USB-C sockets – Metallic paint – Smartphone charging induction (2) – Leather upholstery – Electr. front seats , heated and ventilated • Adaptive controlled suspensions • Dynaudio 12 HP audio system – Fixed panoramic glass roof – Electric trunk shutter, etc.


Comfort and sense of welcome

To seduce, the Seal focuses more on its interior, its refined presentation and its ultra-complete and high-performance technological content. The huge touch screen (Tesla style, again!) is the most impressive illustration of this, and here it can even rotate from horizontal to vertical!

However, it takes time to master all of the available functions. Added to this is simply royal space on board (to the detriment of the trunk) and materials which, without achieving the excellence of a German luxury car, do not have to be ashamed of the comparison.

* Real purchase price integrating the potential discount and the eco bonus/penalty.

1. As the network is still sparse, BYD is in discussions with approved repairers, to offer its customers a more practical solution and to be sure of being covered by the warranty in the event of a problem.


In addition to being elegant with their bucket shape, being dressed in leather, being electric, heated and ventilated, the front seats provide good support. Too bad, the rear view is obstructed by the non-retractable rear seat headrests. The cameras, which provide a 360° peripheral view, partially compensate.


Electronic components are also BYD’s specialty (along with rail transport, new energies and batteries). So no worries, the driving aids all answer the call. Sometimes in an annoying way, like the speed alert which punishes for even the slightest kilometer/hour too much or the pedestrian alert sound, which emits a chilling “hoouuuhouuuu” at low speed and gives the impression of be in a haunted house!


Huge (15.6”/40 cm), the central screen can rotate from horizontal to vertical via a button at the bottom or another on the steering wheel. If the ergonomics are intuitive, finding your way through the maze of menus and submenus requires learning and patience


The materials used do not lack refinement, far from it, rigid plastics are hardly mentioned or are skilfully covered. The Seal has nothing to be ashamed of in front of the Model 3 (before its restyling) and can even teach it lessons.


The air conditioning is effective, but you have to go through the screen to adjust the temperature or access the detailed settings. Tedious!

The 12 HP system from Dynaudio is quite efficient. Access to music content providers is included, at least initially…

The Seal does not forget common sense: numerous storage spaces are distributed throughout the passenger compartment, starting with the large storage compartment located under the floating central console. On the other hand, the bins in the storm doors are a little narrow.


The Seal offers two induction chargers! The only downside: two devices at the same time charge more slowly.


In the front seats, the USB ports are difficult to access because they are hidden under the center console, in front of the storage compartment.


The Seal “3.8 S” boasts sporty performance. Very safe, it is however heavy and a little annoying to drive.

But it stands out for its comfort and sense of welcome. All at an attractive price. Its real autonomy remains to be confirmed.



Comfort/road holding



Autonomy to be confirmed

Small and inaccessible trunk

Heavy steering/high weight

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