Watch the U8 being tested sailing through watch in boat mode. Be warned, it can only do this for 30 mins.

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.

Tech Specced

The flagship U8 Premium Edition supports fast DC charging up to 110 kW. Now, that doesn’t sound like much in a world of 320-kW Porsches, but the Yangwang’s relatively small battery means charging from 30 to 80 percent takes a claimed 18 minutes. The engine can be used as a vehicle-to-load (VTL) generator, delivering up to 6 kW for charging electricals and powering appliances.

As you’d expect in 2024, the U8 is packed with driver assistance tech, too. Those three taxicab-like bumps on the roof are lidar units for creating real-time 3D scans of the road ahead. There’s also 5-millimeter wave radars, 14 ultrasonic sensors, and 16 cameras. BYD says semiautonomous driving on highways and City Navigation Autopilot will arrive via future over-the-air updates.

The U8 is priced from the equivalent of £120,000 (around $149,000) in China, where it is available right now. Sadly, BYD has not yet committed to selling the car in Europe and the UK, or even to bringing its premium Yangwang brand here. But when you consider European drivers’ newfound willingness to try novel car brands, paired with a plush SUV market already offering the BMW iX, Mercedes G-Class, and Range Rover, the thought of U8s tank-turning in tight city streets or wading with confidence through flooded fords either side of the Atlantic doesn’t feel far from reality.