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

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 4×4 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 explicit indication that it planned to take the Yangwang brand to Europe, 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.

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.

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 – and is not shared with any of the five electric cars BYD currently sells in Europe.

The most notable of the new platform’s attributes is a 1100bhp-plus quad-motor powertrain – one motor on each wheel – which allows for 360deg ‘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 that 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.

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