Review: BYD Atto 3

From £37,695

The Atto 3 is the first UK launch from Chinese company BYD (which stands for ‘Build Your Dreams’) – one of the world’s largest producers of electric vehicles and batteries. A family-sized SUV, its rivals include the Kia Niro EV, MG ZS EV, Hyundai Kona Electric, Jeep Avenger and Volkswagen ID.4.

You can expect to see plenty of BYD’s electric vehicles on the roads in the coming years, with the Seal sports saloon and Dolphin supermini already unveiled and all set to join the Atto 3. Ultimately, the BYD Atto 3 offers serious bang for your buck. The list of standard equipment is as long as your arm.

We drove the new BYD Atto 3 on a variety of roads in the South West, plus two long motorway runs, to find out whether this newcomer can compete with its more established competitors.

> One of the best EVs at the affordable end of the market: Read our review of MG ZS EV

BYD Atto 3 – Exterior

Designed by Wolfgang Egger (he used to work at Audi and Alfa Romeo), the Atto 3 is a classic crossover shape with short overhangs, high sides, roof rails and a sloping silhouette which has been optimised for aerodynamic efficiency with a drag coefficient of just 0.29Cd.

However, it’s also distinctive, featuring soft lines, full-width front and rear lighting and rippled rear pillars. The design is a fusion of Chinese culture and modern European tastes and the Atto 3’s ‘face’ is inspired by ancient dragons, with its LED headlights and horizontal brushed grille bar symbolising the mythical creatures’ eyes and moustache.

BYD has kept it simple with the Atto 3. There are just three trim levels (Active, Comfort and Design) and five exterior colour choices (Surfing Blue, Parkour Red), Climbing Grey, Skiing White and Exploring Green). Overall, it’s attractive and feels solid enough.

The Atto 3 comes with a four-year/70,000-mile warranty for the car, extending to eight years and 90,000 miles for the electric motor and its control unit, and eight years and 120,000 miles for the battery pack. It has also achieved a maximum five-star Euro NCAP safety rating.

BYD Atto 3 – Interior

Inside, the BYD Atto 3 is more daring with some quirky features and generous equipment levels. Designed to “create a fresh, spacious and youthful feeling to attract young people and families”, it has unique gym-inspired touches, such as barbell-style door handles, a kettlebell-esque gear selector, and free-weight air vents.

There are also eye-catching vegan leather seats and “guitar strings” across the door bins. Perhaps more importantly, the build quality is impressive and it has a quality feel.

> “Very well-put together EV”: BYD Seal review

A 12.8-inch infotainment touchscreen comes as standard, while top-spec Design models get a whopping 15.6-inch set-up. And it’s party-trick time here, because the screen rotates from landscape to portrait (and vice versa) at the touch of a button, though as we found, landscape will do just fine. Additionally, there’s a small driver’s display, which is fine for basic speed and range info.

There are a few shortcut buttons, but most of the Atto 3’s functionality is accessed via the screen, which is pretty responsive, but it’s not the most intuitive system at first. Thankfully, the voice command system works better than some rivals, which helps. Naturally, there’s also Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity, while over-the-air software updates should help to keep it glitch-free in the long term.

There’s a suitably high driving position, space for five people to sit comfortably, and good all-round visibility. The cabin is bright too, thanks to the standard-fit panoramic sunroof. A total of 440 litres of space is on offer in the boot, which has a two-level floor (ideal for storing cables underneath), and flipping the rear seats extends the volume to 1,338 litres.

BYD Atto 3 – Performance and economy

The Atto 3 is equipped with BYD’s innovative ‘blade’ battery technology. The 60.5kWh pack is Lithium Iron-Phosphate (LFP), rather than conventional lithium-ion, offering “optimum levels of safety, efficiency, and reliability”. There is also a high-efficiency integrated heat pump fitted as standard, which BYD says is the industry’s first direct cooling and heating system for power batteries, increasing thermal efficiency by up to 20% in the winter.

Powered by a single 201bhp electric motor driving the front wheels, official testing has its range at 260 miles, though BYD claims this can extend to as much as 351 miles in city driving. Energy consumption is 3.98 miles/kWh, though we managed closer to 3.5 miles/kWh, equating to a real-world range closer to 200 miles.

The Atto 3’s 88kW maximum charging speed isn’t the fastest, but it’s still enough to take the battery from a 30-80% state of charge in 29 minutes via a rapid 150KW DC charger. Overnight charging at home from an almost empty battery to full can be reached in just 6.5 hours.

With a 0-62mph time of just 7.3 seconds, the Atto 3 has more than enough performance for everyday driving, and there are four driving modes (Sport, Normal, Economy and Snow).

As ever, the default Normal mode delivers the best balance of power and economy. Throttle response is dumbed down in Eco, but it’s worth using on motorway cruises. Sport is fine for short bursts of fun and overtaking.

Finally, BYD offers two levels of regenerative braking (Standard and High). The latter does not mean one-pedal driving though, and overall, the brakes aren’t the most responsive.

> Jeep Avenger first drive review: A cool, compact crossover?

BYD Atto 3 – Handling

The BYD Atto 3 is more about comfort than performance, though it certainly is quick off the mark and like many EVs, it is possible to spin the front wheels in the wet or on loose surfaces.

Easy to drive, it delivers a smooth ride, which is more floaty than dynamic. That said, it soaks up lumps and bumps well. The downside of this soft-set-up is that there’s a fair amount of body lean in more challenging corners.

Refinement is generally good, though there is a faint low-speed whine from the electric motor and wind noise is noticeable at higher speeds.

The steering is light and well-calibrated with a 10.7-metre turning circle, making it ideal for town driving. And as you’d expect, it will happily cruise along comfortably on faster roads – just don’t expect best-in-class engagement.

BYD Atto 3 – Verdict

Easy to drive, well-equipped, competitively priced and sporting a quirky interior, the Atto 3 is an impressive debut car from Chinese EV giant BYD. While it doesn’t offer the driving dynamics of some rivals, it will tick the boxes of most EV buyers at the affordable end of the market, especially when it comes to practicality and comfort.

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BYD Atto 3 – Tech Specs

Price: £37,695
On sale: Now
Engine: 60.5kWh battery
Power: 201bhp
Transmission: Single-speed
Performance: 0-62mph in 7.3s, top speed 99mph
Weight: 1,750kg
Dimensions: L/W/H 4,455/1,875/1,615

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Easy to drive, well equipped, competitively priced and sporting a quirky interior, the Atto 3 is an impressive debut car from Chinese EV giant BYD. While it doesn’t offer the driving dynamics of some rivals, it will tick the boxes of most EV buyers at the affordable end of the market, especially when it comes to practicality and comfort.
Show More

Quality

3.50/5

Performance

3.50/5

Range

3.50/5

Comfort

3.50/5

Dynamics

3.00/5

Fast Facts

Price

£37,695

Battery Capacity

60.5 kWh

WLTP Range

260 miles

Maximum Power

201 bhp

Torque

229 lb-ft

0-60

7.3 secs

Top Speed

99 mph

Boot Capacity

440-
1338 litres

Pros and Cons

Value for money
Easy, comfortable drive
Well equipped
Quirky interior
Divisive design
Average real-world range
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