BYD Atto 3 First Drive Review: Pricey But Promising Electric SUV!

It’s okay if you haven’t heard about the Chinese auto giant BYD. The manufacturer is one of the global leaders in electric mobility and it has been around in India for about 15 years now retailing electric buses, batteries and other electric vehicle components. However, it only recently forayed in the Indian passenger car market with the e6 MPV and the brand is now going more mainstream with its new halo offering - BYD Atto 3. The new electric SUV looks promising. With a premium look and feel, over 500 km of range, 200 bhp and Level 2 ADAS, there’s lots to like. But is this the next electric vehicle you should be looking for? Let’s find out.

By: Sameer Fayaz Contractor
| Updated on: 12 Dec 2022, 10:54 AM
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The BYD Atto 3 electric SUV is compact, quirky and fun, and just the right-sized city car (HT Auto/Sanjay Rohilla)
The BYD Atto 3 electric SUV is compact, quirky and fun, and just the right-sized city car (HT Auto/Sanjay Rohilla)
The BYD Atto 3 electric SUV is compact, quirky and fun, and just the right-sized city car (HT Auto/Sanjay Rohilla)
The BYD Atto 3 electric SUV is compact, quirky and fun, and just the right-sized city car
The bug-inspired front looks quirky, complemented by the Cystal LED headlights and 18-inch alloy wheels
The bug-inspired front looks quirky, complemented by the Cystal LED headlights and 18-inch alloy wheels (HT Auto/Sanjay Rohilla)
The bug-inspired front looks quirky, complemented by the Cystal LED headlights and 18-inch alloy wheels
The bug-inspired front looks quirky, complemented by the Cystal LED headlights and 18-inch alloy wheels (HT Auto/Sanjay Rohilla)

BYD Atto 3 Design

The BYD Atto 3 is longer and wider than the Hyundai Creta but looks much smaller in comparison. The bug-inspired front is quirky with the LED daytime running lights adding a modern touch. The profile looks sharp with the sloping roofline while the raked rear windscreen further adds to the sporty look. However, it also limits rear visibility to the driver. The LED taillights are sharply styled and give a distinctive appearance to the SUV, while the and the 18-inch alloy wheels are very likeable and ride on wide 215 section rubber. The proportions are just right for the city and the Atto 3 looks futuristic in person.

WATCH: BYD Atto 3 First Drive Review

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BYD Atto 3 Cabin

Step inside the cabin of the Atto 3 and it comes across as a well-built space. Lots of soft-touch materials to give that premium feel and there are a lot of materials are at play. There’s a skeletal kind of centrepiece finished in ivory that stands out on the dashboard. It's nicely done and brings a nice bright touch to the cabin overall. The plastics appear sturdy and there's nicely solid feel to the interior that's quite likeable.

The cabin gets a minimal look but there are lots of quirky elements like the dumbbell-inspired air vents and treadmill-inspired armrest. The 12.8-inch rotating screen gives access to most of controls
The cabin gets a minimal look but there are lots of quirky elements like the dumbbell-inspired air vents and treadmill-inspired armrest. The 12.8-inch rotating screen gives access to most of controls (HT Auto/Sanjay Rohilla)
The cabin gets a minimal look but there are lots of quirky elements like the dumbbell-inspired air vents and treadmill-inspired armrest. The 12.8-inch rotating screen gives access to most of controls
The cabin gets a minimal look but there are lots of quirky elements like the dumbbell-inspired air vents and treadmill-inspired armrest. The 12.8-inch rotating screen gives access to most of controls (HT Auto/Sanjay Rohilla)

There are plenty of quirky elements too like the dumbbell-inspired air vents and treadmill-inspired armrest. There's also the guitar-inspired strings on the doors, which are funky at best. There's plenty of cubby storage spaces with two cupholders in the centre console, a large stowage space in the armrest and bottle holders in the doors. The front seats do have small pockets at the back to store knickknacks. The centre console also packs most of the functions that can be accessed with one touch. The gearshift lever, driving modes, regen modes, climate control, traction control and more, all have dedicated buttons here.

Overall, the cabin does come across as premium and the dual-tone leather upholstery further makes it a comfortable space to be in. The front seats are well-bolstered and electrically adjustable as well, while the rear bench can seat two large adults or three average-sized adults in comfort. What this writer would've liked is better under-thigh support.

The cabin is spacious with a 2,720 mm wheelbase but the floor-mounted batteries do take away some of the under-thigh support
The cabin is spacious with a 2,720 mm wheelbase but the floor-mounted batteries do take away some of the under-thigh support (HT Auto/Sanjay Rohilla)
The cabin is spacious with a 2,720 mm wheelbase but the floor-mounted batteries do take away some of the under-thigh support
The cabin is spacious with a 2,720 mm wheelbase but the floor-mounted batteries do take away some of the under-thigh support (HT Auto/Sanjay Rohilla)

BYD Atto 3 Cabin Space

The cabin itself is decently spacious with adequate legroom in the second row. Headroom is good enough at the rear despite the receding roofline while the massive panoramic sunroof also takes away some of that head space. Having said that, the feature nearly covers the roof end-to-end and lends a roomy appearance to the cabin overall. The rear passengers also gets AC vents and USB/Type-C charging points to help keep things comfortable.

The BYD Atto 3 also offers about 440 litres of boot space that's good enough to gobble two large suitcases or plenty of small bags. The slightly high loading lip may be a concern for few. With 60:40 split seating, the rear bench can be folded to make way for about 1,340 litres of space. On that note, the tailgate is also powered on the SUV, adding another level of comfort to the users.

The HD cameras offer a crisp view and also get a record function. The 12.8-inch unit will also come equipped with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto when customer deliveries begin
The HD cameras offer a crisp view and also get a record function. The 12.8-inch unit will also come equipped with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto when customer deliveries begin (HT Auto/Sanjay Rohilla)
The HD cameras offer a crisp view and also get a record function. The 12.8-inch unit will also come equipped with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto when customer deliveries begin
The HD cameras offer a crisp view and also get a record function. The 12.8-inch unit will also come equipped with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto when customer deliveries begin (HT Auto/Sanjay Rohilla)

BYD Atto 3 Features

BYD made quite the statement with its rotating screen on the e6 MPV and you do see it again on the Atto 3 as well. The 12.8-inch unit is easy to use and offers access to the bulk of controls on the vehicle. The UI itself is quite likeable and one of the nicer units in the segment. There are multiple high-definition cameras that offer excellent output with the 360-degree camera function while it also gets the holographic transparent imaging system, which will essentially show you what's underneath the vehicle. It's similar to Land Rover's ClearSight Ground View. Our test vehicle did not come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which was a bummer but BYD did tell us that the customer-spec versions will get the same once deliveries begin in January 2023. In comparison to the massive infotainment screen, the Atto 3 gets a rather small digital console that only shows essential information. It's a lot like the ones on premium motorcycles and gets the job done.

The NFC key card helps lock and unlock the vehicle, replacing the key fob in your pocket, albeit not entirely
The NFC key card helps lock and unlock the vehicle, replacing the key fob in your pocket, albeit not entirely (HT Auto/Sameer Contractor)
The NFC key card helps lock and unlock the vehicle, replacing the key fob in your pocket, albeit not entirely
The NFC key card helps lock and unlock the vehicle, replacing the key fob in your pocket, albeit not entirely (HT Auto/Sameer Contractor)

But the feature list is expansive on the BYD Atto 3. There’s the option to lock and unlock the vehicle using an NFC key card with RFID technology, in addition to the key fob. The electric offering can also charge portable electrical appliances as well by turning into a mobile power station.

BYD Atto 3 Safety

The big addition on the Atto 3 is Level 2 autonomous driving assistance system (ADAS). BYD calls it DiPilot and it brings features like Autonomous Emergency Braking, Adaptive Cruise Control, Blindspot Detection, Lane Departure Warning and more. We did put the autonomous driving features to test during our drive and they worked flawlessly.

The Level 2 ADAS features worked flawlessly on our test drive responding to road changes based on the cars around them
The Level 2 ADAS features worked flawlessly on our test drive responding to road changes based on the cars around them (HT Auto/Sanjay Rohilla)
The Level 2 ADAS features worked flawlessly on our test drive responding to road changes based on the cars around them
The Level 2 ADAS features worked flawlessly on our test drive responding to road changes based on the cars around them (HT Auto/Sanjay Rohilla)

There’s also 7 airbags, seatbelt pretensioners, ISOFIX anchor mounts for child seats on the rear bench as well as the front passenger seat. The car has been built using high-strength steel and even received a 5-star safety rating in the Euro NCAP crash test results.

BYD Atto 3 Performance

What immediately comes to mind when driving the Atto 3 is just how natural the car feels to drive. A lot of traditional buyers will like how the car performs because power delivery is linear and that actually helps you get accustomed to the power delivery of an electric vehicle. Yes, it’s very quick in all three modes - there’s Eco, Normal and Sport. Eco and Normal have sort of dull acceleration. It’s not extremely dull, there’s ample power, especially in your city traffic conditions. If you’re in bumper to bumper, the Eco mode should be completely fine, and so would the Normal mode be.

Acceleration is expectedly quick and there is sizeable difference between Eco and Sport modes. Despite the dull acceleration, Eco mode never feels lagging
Acceleration is expectedly quick and there is sizeable difference between Eco and Sport modes. Despite the dull acceleration, Eco mode never feels lagging (HT Auto/Sanjay Rohilla)
Acceleration is expectedly quick and there is sizeable difference between Eco and Sport modes. Despite the dull acceleration, Eco mode never feels lagging
Acceleration is expectedly quick and there is sizeable difference between Eco and Sport modes. Despite the dull acceleration, Eco mode never feels lagging (HT Auto/Sanjay Rohilla)

But if you are out on the highway, the Sport mode does justice to those figures. All of 150 kW (201 bhp) and 310 Nm of peak torque is immediately available. BYD claims 0-100 kmph comes in 7.3 seconds and certainly feels fast while the top speed is limited to 160 kmph. The power figures do help you reach that figure quicker than you think.

There’s a nice solidly built feeling to the Atto 3 which is likeable and also comes from the steering wheel. There’s a lot of heft at higher speeds, albeit artificial but something a lot of enthusiasts will appreciate. It also offers good stability at high speeds.

The BYD Atto 3 offers excellent high speed stability while body roll is minimal around corners thanks to the floor-mounted batteries
The BYD Atto 3 offers excellent high speed stability while body roll is minimal around corners thanks to the floor-mounted batteries (HT Auto/Sanjay Rohilla)
The BYD Atto 3 offers excellent high speed stability while body roll is minimal around corners thanks to the floor-mounted batteries
The BYD Atto 3 offers excellent high speed stability while body roll is minimal around corners thanks to the floor-mounted batteries (HT Auto/Sanjay Rohilla)

BYD Atto 3 Handling & Ride Quality

With the battery placed on the floorboard, the centre of gravity is low and that means when you push the Atto 3 into a corner with ease. Body roll is minimal and the SUV definitely likes being pushed around a bend. The model does come across as composed around tight turns and you you don’t have to put too much effort. Yes, it’s not an out-and-out sporty but what it does, it does really well.

That also has to do with the suspension set-up that is tuned towards comfort. The Atto 3 simply glides through most undulations. It's a pliant ride and definitely kept us comfortable throughout. Add to that, the well-bolstered seats and long drives should be fun on the Atto 3. As quick the car is, the braking set-up is equally powerful, although a stronger bite at high speeds would’ve felt more reassuring for the drivers.

The 60.48 kWh Blade battery runs on LFP cells and promises the best of protection and temperature resistance. It can be charged up to 80% in 50 minutes with a DC fast charger
The 60.48 kWh Blade battery runs on LFP cells and promises the best of protection and temperature resistance. It can be charged up to 80% in 50 minutes with a DC fast charger (HT Auto/Sanjay Rohilla)
The 60.48 kWh Blade battery runs on LFP cells and promises the best of protection and temperature resistance. It can be charged up to 80% in 50 minutes with a DC fast charger
The 60.48 kWh Blade battery runs on LFP cells and promises the best of protection and temperature resistance. It can be charged up to 80% in 50 minutes with a DC fast charger (HT Auto/Sanjay Rohilla)

BYD Atto 3 Battery & Range

BYD offers a 60.48 kWh Blade battery pack with LFP cells that promises high levels of safety and a charging time of 50 minutes with a DC fast charger. Customers though will get a 3.3 kW charger as standard with the vehicle. The battery, motor and controller all have an 8 years/150,000 km warranty, which keeps things trouble-free on the ownership side. But what about range?

BYD claims a range of 521 km (ARAI certified) on a single charge. That’s enough to last a week on a regular commute. Maybe two full charges if you have a long commute. And takes out the anxiety related to electric vehicles as far as charging is concerned. We started the day on a full charge and after about 120 km of driving, the battery was down to 65 per cent and about 350 km of range left. So, yes, the output was consistent with the claims. However, a more comprehensive drive is what we will need to put that claim to test.

The BYD Atto 3 is fun and impressive but the steep asking price will keep a few potential buyers away
The BYD Atto 3 is fun and impressive but the steep asking price will keep a few potential buyers away (HT Auto/Sanjay Rohilla)
The BYD Atto 3 is fun and impressive but the steep asking price will keep a few potential buyers away
The BYD Atto 3 is fun and impressive but the steep asking price will keep a few potential buyers away (HT Auto/Sanjay Rohilla)

BYD Atto 3 Price

BYD has announced prices and the Atto 3 arrives in a fully-loaded single variant at 34 lakh (ex-showroom). Yes, that’s a pricey proposition! But do remember this is an SKD (Semi-Knocked Down) model, so all parts are built overseas and then assembled in India. However, given enough demand for the Atto 3 and BYD tells us that they will consider locally assembling in the future. This will see the model arriving as a Completely Knocked Down (CKD) kit, which should help with more competitive prices.

BYD gets the tone right with its halo offering and it will surely put the brand on the buyers' radar going forward
BYD gets the tone right with its halo offering and it will surely put the brand on the buyers' radar going forward (HT Auto/Sanjay Rohilla)
BYD gets the tone right with its halo offering and it will surely put the brand on the buyers' radar going forward
BYD gets the tone right with its halo offering and it will surely put the brand on the buyers' radar going forward (HT Auto/Sanjay Rohilla)

BYD Atto 3 Verdict

At present, the Atto 3 competes with the Hyundai Kona Electric, MG ZS EV and the likes and does come across a vastly more expensive offering. However, the features do give it an edge over competition and so does the impressive battery and range on offer. There's no denying that the Atto 3 is a well-built option and is just the right size. It's quite practical too with respect to the range, features and performance. And with the right pricing, it will do wonders in the electric vehicle segment. For now, it does a good job of putting the brand on the new car buyers' radar

First Published Date: 12 Dec 2022, 10:54 AM IST
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