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BYD Atto 3 review finds its accessible premium promise is delivered


Battery: 60.48kWh
Range: 260 miles
Consumption: 3.98mi/kWh
Output: 204PS
Performance: 0-62mph 7.3s; top speed 99mph
Charging time: 7kW - 9hr42m; 11kW – 6hr30m; 150kW – 29mins (30-80%)


In the next year or so, several Chinese car manufacturers are set to enter the UK market with their own-branded vehicles. One such manufacturer is BYD, which recently launched its first model available for order in the UK, the Atto 3 compact SUV.

Despite being relatively unknown, BYD is a major player in the global automotive industry, having sold millions of cars worldwide, and AM and Fleet News group editor Stephen Briers recently caught up with the brand which has just been announcing its first UK dealers.

Priced from £36,490, the Atto 3 boasts innovation, technology, and an "accessible premium" brand philosophy. It sits on BYD's newly developed ePlatform 3.0, featuring Blade battery technology that takes up half the space of conventional batteries, allowing for improved range. So, how does it perform?

Surprisingly well, in fact. The Atto 3 has the potential to disrupt the established order in the fleet market. While its exterior design may be somewhat generic, it does feature striking full-width light bars at the front and rear.

The real highlight, however, lies in the interior. The cabin is adorned with high-quality materials and innovative design elements that capture attention.

The centerpiece is a 12.8-inch infotainment screen that can rotate at the touch of a button, offering both landscape and portrait viewing. It boasts high-quality graphics and is complemented by shortcut buttons and a voice control system called "Hi BYD." The traditional binnacle on the dashboard is replaced by a small digital screen attached to the steering wheel, displaying key information.

7 BYD Atto 3

Safety is a priority for BYD, with the Atto 3 earning a five-star rating from Euro NCAP, scoring 91% for adult occupants. Even the sat-nav system aligns with the safety focus, providing helpful advice and warnings. Another interesting feature is the live PM 2.5 reading on the screen, providing updates on air quality both inside and outside the car.

The Atto 3's interior boasts unique touches, such as door grab handles resembling barbells and air vents shaped like vertical free weights. The interior door handles sit atop circular speakers and pivot to open the door, offering a more natural and ergonomic movement. Other notable features include vegan leather sport seats, a full-length panoramic glass roof, spacious door pockets, and a completely flat floor due to the compact battery. The boot capacity is 440 liters, expandable to 1,338 liters with the rear seats folded down.

BYD keeps the range selection simple, offering three trim levels: Active (£36,490), Comfort (£36,990), and Design (£38,990). All models come with a standard set of features, including 18-inch alloys.

The range is available in five colors: surfing blue, skiing white, climbing grey, parkour red, and exploring green.

However, the Atto 3 falls slightly short in terms of its combined range. While BYD promises exciting battery and powertrain technology, the WLTP figure stands at 260 miles, which is lower than the claimed range of over 300 miles by segment leaders.

Nevertheless, efficiency is impressive, especially in cold weather. Test drives indicate competitive performance, with an average of 3.3 miles per kilowatt-hour (mi/kWh) on a 60-mile test route, compared to 2.8 mi/kWh for the Volkswagen ID4 under similar conditions.

BYD attributes this efficiency to its ePlatform 3.0, which utilizes heat generated by the entire vehicle to regenerate the battery, resulting in a 20% range improvement in cold weather. Additionally, a heat pump further enhances efficiency by 20% across various temperatures.

The 60.5kWh battery, integrated into the car as an energy source and structural component, can be charged from 30% to 80% in just 29 minutes using a 150kW rapid charger (note that the maximum charging capacity is currently 88kW DC). Furthermore, the Atto 3 supports over-the-air software upgrades, offering the potential for future improvements.

Now, let's talk about the driving experience. Once again, BYD Atto 3 impresses. Its smooth and comfortable ride effortlessly absorbs the bumps and potholes of the UK's roads. Handling is well-weighted and precise, although it may lack a bit of engagement for those seeking a more spirited drive.

The Atto 3 offers different driving modes to suit various preferences, including Sport mode for a firmer ride and Eco mode for range-conscious drivers. However, most drivers will likely find the Normal mode to be the ideal balance.

Considering BYD's efforts to establish a solid presence in the UK, it's worth noting that the company is actively setting up a national sales office and appointing dealers, to ensure that support and infrastructure will be readily available to customers considering the Atto 3.

In conclusion, the BYD Atto 3's impressive interior design, advanced technology, and focus on safety make it a compelling choice. While its combined range falls slightly short compared to some segment leaders, its efficiency and innovative battery technology compensate for this limitation. With its growing presence and commitment to the UK market, BYD could make a significant impact in the new car market.

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