New BYD Seal vs BMW i4 vs Tesla Model 3: costs

BYD is a relative newcomer to the UK, so can its Seal executive saloon beat the established competition in the shape of the BMW i4 and Tesla Model 3?...

BYD Seal charging port

Buying and owning

Costs, equipment, reliability, safety and security

Here’s where the Tesla Model 3 starts to make its two rivals look a bit silly. That’s because despite it being a very good car, as we’ve explained already, it undercuts the BYD Seal by £5705 and the BMW i4 by a colossal £12,265.

And if you’re thinking “Well, yes, but that’s probably because it comes with all the creature comforts of a Victorian fishing vessel”, you’ll be surprised to hear that it’s actually the most generously equipped car here. You get a panoramic glass roof, heated seats (front and back), a heated steering wheel, ventilated front seats, two wireless charging pads, keyless entry, adaptive cruise control and a second touchscreen – 8.0in this time – in the back so passengers can adjust the heating or watch Netflix or YouTube.

BMW i4 charging port

You can’t have a touchscreen in the back of the i4, but if you add the rest of the goodies we’ve just listed, along with an electric driver’s seat, you’ll be spending an extra £6000 on options, taking the overall price close to £60,000. And, remember, that’s for a car with a shorter range between charges.

The Seal also looks expensive next to the Model 3, but at least it goes some way to making up for that with the longest range of the trio. It’s also very well equipped, missing out only on the Model 3’s rear touchscreen and heated rear seats. Then again, you can choose from any of its four paint colours without paying extra; BMW and Tesla charge for any colour other than white.

List price will matter less if you’re a company car driver paying benefit-in-kind tax, because – as with all fully electric cars – you’ll pay tax on just 2% of these cars’ list prices. However, if you’re signing up to a PCP finance deal, the Model 3 will net you the cheapest monthly repayments. Put down a £4500 deposit and you’ll pay £582 a month over the next four years, assuming an annual limit of 10,000 miles.

Tesla Model 3 charging port

On the same terms, the Seal will cost you £678 a month and the i4 £679. The reason the i4 barely costs any more than its Chinese rival in monthly repayments is because the Seal is predicted to suffer from relatively heavy depreciation, no doubt due to BYD’s newness to the UK market.

For that reason, we can’t give you any worthwhile steer on the likely reliability of the Seal. However, the Model 3 scored above-average marks compared with other electric cars in the 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey, and the US brand ranked 10th (out of 32) in the overall league table. The i4 didn’t feature specifically, but BMW finished 12th overall.

Some reassurance will undoubtedly come from BYD’s standard six-year warranty, compared with the three and four-year cover you get with the BMW and Tesla respectively. All three manufacturers offer eight years of cover for the battery, though.

BYD Seal vs BMW i4 vs Tesla Model 3 costs

As for safety, the i4 was given a relatively disappointing four-star rating by Euro NCAP. However, this was mainly down to the organisation’s criticism of its lane-keeping assistance system, rather than any concerns over crash protection. The Model 3 and Seal were awarded five stars, although the former was tested under a less stringent procedure when it first arrived in Europe back in 2019.

There’s little in it for maximum charging speed, but you’ll wait the longest (around 38 minutes) for a 10-80% top-up in the Seal, because it has the biggest battery to fill. The Model 3’s relatively small battery is the quickest to charge, taking around 25 minutes. And remember: the Model 3 gives you access to Tesla’s fantastic Supercharger network, which generally offers quicker, more reliable and cheaper charging than other public networks.

<< Previous | Next: Our verdict >>

Page 4 of 5

Also consider