BYD to test appetite for huge, 1100bhp Defender rival at Geneva

BYD to test appetite for huge, 1100bhp Defender rival at Geneva



Yangwang U8 is first production car from BYD's new luxury brand

Quad-motor Yangwang U8 will make European debut at Geneva show, alongside new Denza and BYD models

BYD will gauge European public appetite for its new ultra-luxurious Land Rover Defender rival at the Geneva motor show later this month.

The Chinese company last year revealed the U8 4x4 as the spearhead of its new Yangwang luxury brand, envisioned as a rival to the likes of Audi, Mercedes-Benz and BMW. It was shown alongside the U9, a Rimac Nevera-style electric supercar. 

BYD had given no indication that it planned to take the Yangwang brand overseas, but has now confirmed it will be "teasing public reaction" for the U8 at the Geneva show, where it is one of just five mainstream car brands exhibiting this year.

It will be the first time BYD has shown a Yangwang model in Europe, and the brand is keen to impress upon showgoers the "exceptional capabilities" of the new e4 platform which underpins the U8 - not shared with any of the five electric cars BYD currently sells in Europe.

Most notable of the new platform's attributes is an 1100bhp-plus quad-motor powertrain – one on each wheel – which allows for 360-degree 'tank turns' on the spot and boosts the U8's dynamic stability and agility in normal driving situations. The forthcoming Mercedes EQG – an electric version of the G-Class – has a similar set-up. 

The motors are powered normally by a 49kWh battery, but a 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine – unconnected to the wheels – functions as a range-extender. 

The U8 is also equipped with an 'intelligent' hydraulic suspension system which is said to minimise the risk of rollover and keeps the car body flat in extreme manoeuvres to stop the occupants moving around the cabin. It also allows the car to be driven on three wheels in the event of a puncture.

The U8, measuring a substantial 5300mm long and with a wheelbase of 3500mm, would naturally contend with range-topping versions of the Land Rover Defender and Mercedes G-Class if it were exported to Europe, but the firm has not said which markets specifically it could be sold in, nor given an idea of volumes or local pricing. It costs roughly £120,000 in its home market. 

Notably, BYD CEO Wang Chuanfu has previously spoken of his ambition to "reshape the contours of the global luxury car market" with the Yangwang brand, suggesting it was never envisioned as solely a domestic offering.

BYD will also display the new Denza D7 in Geneva - an Audi Q8 E-tron-rivalling electric crossover from the new premium brand it has established as a joint venture with Mercedes-Benz. It has not said when or where the N7 will launch, but has confirmed the Denza D9 – a Lexus LM-style luxury MPV – will go on sale in Europe this year.  

The two new brands will be on display alongside the new BYD Seal U, a plug-in hybrid crossover destined for UK dealerships in the coming months, and a new vesion of the Tang seven-seat electric SUV, which is currently not sold in the UK. 

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