BYD Atto 3 Design: long-term test review

First report: anyone for a game of Guess Who?

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    Perhaps it’s to be expected from such a fresh brand, but we’re already finding a lot to like about our Atto 3, as well as no shortage of curiosities. We’re in for an interesting six months ahead with the BYD, it seems.

    • Mileage: 4,582
    • Efficiency: 4.3 miles/kWh
    • I was always more of a KerPlunk devotee as a youth – when I wasn’t playing my part in Ludo sessions that frequently caused family Armageddon – but right now, I’m enjoying a good old game of Guess Who?, with the latest addition to the Auto Express fleet at the heart of it. Say hello to, er… yeah, the blue one!

      Okay, so it is, of course, the BYD Atto 3, a new compact SUV that picked up a couple of commendations in our New Car Awards, and a vehicle that could well be an extremely thin end of an extremely thick wedge when it comes to the Chinese brand’s plans for the UK and Europe.

      BYD remains the biggest company that nobody has really heard of – at least, not in my home patch of Berkshire. But it is, to remind you, the second-largest maker of batteries on the planet, subtly featuring in many of the devices we all use every day. And during my first few weeks with the Atto 3, I’ve quickly realised that while its shape is pretty homogenous, and even a little bland to my eyes, it is, at least, new. 

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      This has prompted passers-by to take a second look at the badge, front or back, and then quickly start a guessing game. “Is it a Volkswagen?”, “Korean, maybe?”, “Nice paint job”, “What on earth does Build Your Dreams mean?” And eventually, “Oh, it’s Chinese. But it looks fairly decent, right?”

      I can forgive the final bit of bemusement, because while pretty much every bit of consumer electronics in a house is made in China, cars from that region are still a bit of an unknown quantity in the UK. The increasingly bullish reborn MG brand has a thin veneer of its British history with which to disguise its Far Eastern ownership, but how will Build Your Dreams (BYD) stack up on usability and dependability?

      The Atto 3 – sold through BYD’s fledgling UK dealer network of five stores, with plans for a further 20 outlets in the coming months – is available in just one technical configuration, with a 201bhp front-mounted motor and a 60.4kWh battery delivering a claimed 260 miles of range between charges. Speaking of which, the fastest refill speed is via a 150kW charger, which can take the Atto 3’s battery from 30 to 80 per cent of its capacity in a respectable 29 minutes.

      There are three trim levels in the line-up: Active, Comfort and the range-topping Design that you see here, which costs £38,990 and already comes with deposit contributions to sweeten its PCP finance deal. It certainly doesn’t want for standard equipment, with 18-inch alloy wheels, a decent-sized sunroof, dual-zone climate control, front and back parking sensors with rear-view camera, and a large 15.96-inch infotainment touchscreen which, for reasons I’ve yet to fathom, can be rotated between portrait and landscape orientations.


      My early impressions are that the Atto 3 is perfectly big enough to be a family car; a bespoke EV platform has delivered decent rear space for a vehicle measuring 4.45 metres in length while, at 440 litres, the BYD’s boot capacity is larger than that in many a C-sector hatchback. 

      The car arrived in the early-June heatwave, admittedly, but the standard heat pump and BYD’s battery-management software have helped it to look punchy on range. During its first few weeks, based on rough calculations, I’m getting a little more than the claimed maximum range on a single charge.

      I’m looking forward to putting these stats to the test over the next six months, and getting to know the BYD a bit better. Whether the wider UK population likes it or not, I suspect they will be doing the same.

      Model:BYD Atto 3 Design
      On fleet since:June 2023
      Price new:£38,990
      Powertrain:1x e-motor, 60.4kWh battery, 201bhp
      Range:260 miles
      Max charging:89kW DC
      Any problems?None so far

      *Insurance quote from AA (0800 107 0680) for a 42-year-old in Banbury, Oxon, with three points.

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