Car review: 2024 BYD Sealion 6

Australia’s most popular family vehicle, the Toyota RAV4, might have some serious competition on its hands in the new Build Your Dreams Sealion 6.

If they’re all words you’ve never heard or seen before, you’re not alone. Build Your Dreams – or its much preferable and more commonly used acronym, BYD – is one of many new Chinese entrants to the Australian market. However, while dozens of brands exist in the Land of the Dragon, the privately-owned BYD stands out as one of the biggest and best regarded.

In Australia, BYD currently sells only electric cars such as the Dolphin hatch, Seal sedan and Atto 3 small SUV. But now, it’s offering Australians its first hybrid.

BYD Sealion 6
The BYD Sealion 6 is a midsized hybrid with a curvy exterior. Image: BYD

Sized somewhere between a RAV4 and a Kluger, the new Sealion 6 is a plug-in hybrid meaning it’s got a reasonable-sized battery offering up to 92km of electric-only range. That’s before a 1.5-litre petrol four-cylinder engine takes over, doing away with the ‘range anxiety’ that beleaguers many new electric models – and very much making the case for this clever hybrid SUV in the bush.

SUVs like Toyota’s RAV4 hybrid – and the new-generation hybrids from Hyundai like the Kona – are closed systems with no plug-in ability, meaning the Sealion 6 is almost more a rival for the plug-in hybrid Mitsubishi Outlander.

It certainly gives all of them a run for their money on value. BYD offers the Sealion 6 with two powertrain options – a 160kW front-drive Dynamic for $48,990 (before on-road costs) and a 238kW all-wheel-drive Premium for $52,990, with a turbo engine that has more grunt. Not bad on the hip pocket at all.

In the metal, the Sealion 6 spurns the rugged look that’s increasingly common with SUVs and goes for something curvy and simple, almost pretty. Jump inside and the interior certainly impresses, thankfully steering away from the controversial cabin styling of its Atto 3 sibling and going for something safer, yet still attractive.

A large, easy-to-use 15.6-inch infotainment touchscreen takes pride of place in the centre of the dash, and can swivel from portrait to landscape at the push of a button (something of a gimmick). It houses wired Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto. There’s also a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster while the top-spec Premium gets a head-up display. It all feels very high-tech.

BYD Sealion 6 interior
The interior is stylish and has all the mod-cons. Image: BYD

There’s an impressive amount of storage space while the back is also roomy with two sets of ISOFIX mounting points on the outboard rear seats, and three top tethers for child seats – although we would have loved to see some built-in rear window blinds, a must-have for little ones.

The boot, which opens and closes electrically, is a generous 574 litres. That’s even if the second row is fixed – not the sliding type, which maximises practicality – and there’s no spare wheel, just a puncture repair kit.

In its electric mode, the Sealion 6 accelerates near-silently and smoothly just like an electric vehicle. Power is sufficient, while the ride quality is notably soft. The steering is also very light, making this a very easy vehicle to drive. The engine, when it does kick in, is also remarkably quiet, while the handling is secure.

Overall, the BYD Sealion 6 is good enough to merit consideration against something like a RAV4 hybrid – if you’ve got somewhere to plug it in. Its smaller battery means recharging at home using a standard wall outlet is a possibility (requiring about 10 hours from flat to full). Taking advantage of cheaper off-peak electricity rates could also help dramatically lower your living costs, especially whenever the price of petrol peaks – and you can simply wryly smile.

Specs
Price$48,990 (Dynamic), $52,990 (Premium) before on-road costs
ANCAP safety ratingNot rated
Fuel consumption1.1L/100km (Dynamic), 1.4L/100km (Premium), 95RON fuel
WarrantySix years or 150,000km (whichever comes first)
Battery warrantyEight years or 160,000km (whichever comes first)

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