BYD Seal AWD Performance track drive review : Seal Team
Zhuhai, China - A good measure of a man’s character can be determined by how much he sweats the small stuff.
Happily enough, it was no sweat for the all-wheel-driven BYD Seal Performance to keep its big boy’s pants on.
Mind you, this was even in the face of Typhoon Koinu, the fringes of which skirted the Zhuhai International Circuit (or ZIC for short) during our visit to savour the four-door coupe’s 530hp and 670Nm electric goodness.
Hot on the heels of the BYD dynamic drive event at the Changi Exhibition Centre in Singapore just a few weeks prior (I missed it!), we’ve travelled to Zhuhai to put the Seal Performance through its paces where it matters most to us 'petrol'-heads… around a race-track.
I’ve never understood the fascination with an EV's range, especially if it is charged daily.
Besides, it’s a moot point these days because the current (no pun intended) crop of EVs have more than sufficient range on a full charge.
For instance, the Seal Performance boasts a combined 500+km WLTP range, which is perfectly adequate for Singapore use.
So, I can’t imagine anyone sweating and suffering in silence as they lightfoot the car around to maximise range, especially since the only thing I wanted to do was to enjoy the Seal AWD Performance’s full 530hp / 670Nm firepower!
With range and energy consumption removed from the equation, we’re able to explore the fun stuff in a series of dynamic exercises with the top-shelf Seal Performance.
In many ways, it channels the spirit of battle-hardened Special Forces Operators by over-delivering where it matters, even in the wet.
Blistering standing starts are a click-baity SOP hallmark of electric vehicles and the Seal Performance is no exception as it demolishes the 0-100km/h sprint in 3.8secs flat.
All this for under S$290k (the regular Seal starts from S$240+k), with the caveat that not everyone wants a Tesla.
Although a launch control station was part of the day’s exercises, it was actually the cornering and full track attack sessions that got us all fired up in anticipation of deployment.
We’re huge fans of BYD’s latest models, which include the ATTO 3, Dolphin and now the Seal.
EVs have been running rampant in China long before it became a trendy catchphrase globally, so it still boggles the mind that some folks regard Chinese EV brands with trepidation.
With very little ‘legacy’ baggage in terms of cabin design and UX, brands like BYD are able to create effectively clean-slate products that deliver a devastating punch in terms of price, performance and overall package.
With its sleek, low-slung, Ocean Aesthetics executive looks, the Seal boasts an athletic silhouette that is subtly sporty in the nudge-wink IYKYK fashion, with a slippery 0.219 drag coefficient to boot.
Like the ATTO 3 and Dolphin, the Seal sits on the e-Platform 3.0.
However, it is the first of the brand’s models to implement BYD’s Cell-to-Body technology (where the batteries are incorporate into the entire vehicle’s structure).
This enhances safety, as well as improves torsional rigidity (an impressive 40,500 Nm/degree) and driving dynamics.
If anything, its stealth-sporty looks belie its on-track performance, with the all-wheel drivetrain put through its paces on the slippery circuit.
As a relic from a bygone era, this author still misses the evocative soundtrack of sporty ICE machines, because it adds to the go-faster experience.
In a fast EV, you learn to rely on steering (feedback), seat-of-pants and sight to clue yourself into the car’s composure in order to adjust the angle of attack.
With the Seal Performance, iTAC (or Intelligent Torque Adaption Control system) vectors torque between front and rear on the AWD model.
This provides drive to the end with more grip, which creates more progressive and predictable responses, especially given the instant-torque nature of EVs.
Given its performance, you’d expect some compromise to comfort.
However, the 2920mm wheelbase translates to decent space for five adults.
Moreover, there's ample stowage for their accompanying barang-barang, thanks to the knick-knack nooks in the cabin, as well as luggage space in the 400-litre boot and 50-litre frunk.
Taking centre-stage in the cabin is a 15.6-inch rotatable screen with smooth UX, intelligent voice control function and wireless connectivity via Android Auto or Apple CarPlay.
The driver reads-off a 10.25-inch full instrument LCD panel, while a 12-speaker Dynaudio Performance Audio System delivers tub-thumping tunes to the occupants.
It’s cool to see BYD taking the umm, performance angle with the Seal AWD Performance, because touting an EV’s clean (well, clean in terms of zero emissions motoring, we mean) credentials is pretty overdone now.
Instant torque also means instant fun and coupled to the Seal Performance’s tight handling package, it’s about time we started adding ‘lean’ and ‘mean’ to ‘clean’.
BYD Seal AWD Performance
Battery 82.56kWh, Li-Ion
Electric Motor 530hp, 670Nm
Electric Range (WLTP) 520km (combined)
Top Speed 180km/h (electronically limited)