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First Look

The new BYD Seal U DM-i is a plug-in hybrid ‘utility’ vehicle

Five-seater hybrid SUV competes for title of Longest Ever Vehicle Name

Published: 26 Feb 2024

Chinese carmaker BYD has debuted the new Seal U DM-i at this year's Geneva Motor Show. It’s the SUV version of the BYD Seal saloon. And the plug-in hybrid SUV’s full name is the Build Your Dreams Seal Utility Dual-Mode, er, ‘i’. We haven’t quite figured that last bit out.

The BYD VeryLongName is the company's challenge to the Nissan Qashqai, Hyundai Sante Fe and Mitsubishi Outlander, with its largely inoffensive design comprised of a low, wide grille, LED headlights with dual lenses and 19in alloys.

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When it comes to the VLM's powertrain, the ‘dual-mode’ bit is quite important. For starters, it’s the first time the brand’s 'Super DM' technology has made an appearance in Europe.

Despite sounding like a Saturday morning cartoon hero, it's actually three core components stitched together: a high-power electric motor, a 1.5-litre engine and the Blade battery, developed in-house. The dual-mode refers to the switch made automatically between power sources to keep the car in electric-only mode and keep fuel economy high.

BYD hasn’t confirmed which 1.5-litre engine will feature, though it has a choice of two from its portfolio. One version gets 96bhp while the other is a more powerful 128bhp turbocharged unit. With the vehicle almost five metres in length, dare we hope it’s the latter?

In the cabin, that length promises plenty of room for five fully grown humans. There’s also sculpted seats clad in vegan leather, mood lighting, a 15.6in rotating LCD touchscreen and an Infinity audio suite. Up front, the driver gets a crystal gear selector and wireless charging.

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BYD tells us there’s the option of fast DC charging, going from 30 to 80 per cent charge in 35 minutes. And the car can also act as a power bank to charge other devices while you’re out and about.

Available from spring 2024, BYD has said that it’ll be affordable but doesn’t give any details on pricing. Likely won't be as long as the name.

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