BYD Yangwang U8 2024: Price, Specs, Availability

BYD Yangwang U8 2024: Price, Specs, Availability

What do you get when you cross a Land Rover Defender, a Bentley, and a boat? The answer is the Yangwang U8, an enormous hybrid SUV from the upmarket sub-brand of Chinese electric car giant BYD that can drive on—yes, on, not in—water.

The Land Rover bit is obvious thanks to the U8’s chunky styling, massive scale (at 5.3 meters, it’s as long as the Defender 130), and claimed ability to drive just about anywhere due to four electric motors and clever hydraulic suspension.

The Bentley factor also doesn’t take much explaining, since the U8’s cabin takes a big step up from the plastics and synthetic leathers used in BYD’s lesser cars like the Seal and Atto 3. Here there are acres of napa leather, plush headrests, massage seats with heating and cooling, and open-grain Sapele wood veneer. There’s even a storage cubby beneath the central armrest that can be cooled to –6 degrees Celsius or heated to 50 degrees Celsius (21 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit).

Less Bentley but more BMW is the amount of tech onboard, including three displays spread across the dashboard and two more to entertain rear-seat occupants. The central 12.8-inch OLED touchscreen is curved vertically and flanked by a pair of 23.6-inch displays facing the driver and passenger. There’s 50-watt wireless phone charging and a 22-speaker sound system with support for Dolby Atmos.

Works on Water …

Now for the boat bit. Ready? BYD says the U8 can wade through water up to 1 meter deep—100 millimeters more than a Defender—and then after that, should the wet stuff get deeper, it floats.

You could, of course, argue that any car temporarily becomes a boat when unexpectedly introduced to water, but the Chinese company actually means it.

Instead of promptly ingesting a few gallons, flooding the cabin, and expiring, the U8 calmly shuts down the engine, closes its windows, switches the air conditioning to recirculate, opens the sunroof as an emergency exit, and keeps right on going. There’s no rudder or outboard motor, but BYD says the U8 can sail at 1.8 mph by simply spinning its wheels.

Boat mode is only intended for use in an emergency, like flash flooding, and BYD says the U8 is designed to do this for just 30 minutes. It isn’t clear what happens on extended voyages.

Drivers/skippers are also urged to take the U8 to a workshop for an inspection after unintentionally (or perhaps intentionally) taking their luxury electrified 3,460-kilogram car/yacht into the water. This might make the U8’s bathing abilities sound like an unnecessary feature, but in countries prone to extreme rainfall and flooded roads, building a car capable of floating back to safety isn’t as strange as it sounds.

… and on Mountains

Back on dry land, the U8 promises to be a seriously capable off-roader. Intelligent drive modes send power and torque to whichever corner needs it, and because there’s an electric motor for each wheel, the U8 can perform a tank-turn, spinning on the spot by turning its left and right sides in opposing directions. On asphalt it’ll create enough friction to buy the Michelin Man a new holiday home, but it’s a smart way of negotiating tight spots while off-roading.

We mentioned earlier how this is a hybrid, but its drivetrain doesn’t work in the conventional sense. While there’s a turbocharged, 2-liter petrol engine, it isn’t connected to the wheels. Instead it acts as a range-extending generator and sends its power to the U8’s modest 49-kWh battery pack.

BYD says the U8 will manage 112 miles on electricity alone or 620 miles when the engine gets involved. The four electric motors combine to produce a frankly absurd 1,200 horsepower, making the U8 the world’s most powerful SUV. And BYD says the near 4-ton car accelerates to 0-62 mph in just 3.6 seconds.

Alistair Charlton

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