BYD Atto 3 Review & Prices
The BYD Atto 3 has a cool and quirky interior that's really well put together, but it’s not hugely practical and the infotainment system is clunky to use
Find out more about the BYD Atto 3
Another day and another family-oriented electric SUV to bring you. This is the BYD Atto 3, fresh from China, and aiming to find a place on your shortlist if you’re looking at cars like the Peugeot e-2008, MG ZS EV or Kia Niro EV.
Like discovering after a few years working together that you went to school with your colleague on the desk across from you, the BYD Atto 3 may be more familiar than you realise.
BYD has been manufacturing everything from smartphone components to electric buses since its inception in 1995, and recently has been selling cars in its home market. Now, it wants a slice of the UK pie.
At first glance though, it’s not doing too much to stand out. Though its design is inoffensive (‘Build Your Dreams’ badging aside), there’s little about the car that’ll turn your head away from the plethora of choices you have in this segment.
Fortunately, the same can’t be said for the eccentric interior. Be it the muscle membrane-like trim inserts, eye-catching vegan leather colour combination or the (functional) guitar strings across the door bins, there’s no accusing the Atto 3 of lacking character inside.
Better still, build quality is impressive, as you’ll be hard-pressed to find cheap-feeling materials (unless you look way under the dashboard) – a rarity nowadays on more affordable cars.
A 12.8-inch infotainment system comes as standard, with a 15.6-inch screen fitted to top-spec Design models. There’s a bit of a party trick to it too, as it’s able to rotate from landscape to portrait at the press of a button. Amusing for a brief moment, though you’ll likely find a preference quickly and leave it untouched.
The software on the system itself is pretty intuitive – it’s essentially just an Android tablet. There are some teething issues to solve, though. You do get Apple CarPlay, but there's no Android Auto yet – said to be coming as a no-cost update sometime in the future – and the ‘Hey BYD’ voice assistant adapting to some of the UK’s more regional accents would be welcome.
The BYD Atto 3 has a quirky interior design – it's smart, but the guitar strings on the doors are just odd
Legroom in the rear of the BYD Atto 3 is decent, though you may be left wanting more headroom. Kids in car seats will be fine, but it’s something to consider if you’re ferrying teenagers or adults around often.
It’s a similar story for boot space, too; 440 litres of storage isn’t woeful, but it’s beaten by the Kia Niro EV and MG ZS EV, although it is marginally better than the similarly-sized Peugeot e-2008.
All versions of the BYD Atto 3 are powered by a single electric motor, drawing power from a 60.5kWh battery. Official testing has its range at 260 miles, though a cold March day of driving the car in mixed conditions returned 3.3mi/kWh, equating to less than 200 miles of real-world range.
If you’re planning to use your Atto 3 as an urban runaround, you’ll be happy to know it’s pleasant to use around town. Visibility is good all-round, and a standard-fit 360-degree camera is a nice addition for parking.
Supple suspension results in a comfy ride over bumps in the road, too. That translates nicely out on the motorway as well, though prepare yourself for a lot of wind noise at higher speeds.
On a back road, the BYD Atto 3 will wobble around a bit and doesn’t offer much in the way of excitement, but that’s hardly a dealbreaker for cars like this.
For a first foray into the UK market, the BYD Atto 3 is a respectable effort. It offers the value and quality to seriously consider compared with the established names, though it lacks some of the polish you find from more familiar brands and that lack of space may prove a sticking point.
If you like the look of this good value electric SUV you can check out the latest BYD Atto 3 deals through carwow. You can also look for a great deal on used cars and even sell your current car through carwow, too.
The BYD Atto 3 has a RRP range of £37,695 to £39,695. However, with carwow you can save on average £1,139. Prices start at £36,586 if paying cash. Monthly payments start at £332.
Our most popular versions of the BYD Atto 3 are:
|Model version||carwow price from|
|150kW Comfort 60kWh 5dr Auto||£36,586||Compare offers|
|150kW Design 60kWh 5dr Auto||£38,526||Compare offers|
For a car from a brand you’ve never heard of, the Atto 3 isn't cheap. Compared to its closest alternatives, it does start at a similar price to the Kia Niro EV and Peugeot e-2008, but is severely undercut by the MG ZS EV – even in the MG's most expensive long-range spec. The Kia and Peugeot also manage to offer a more premium-feeling finish overall compared to the BYD.
The Atto 3 is comfy and manoeuvrable around town, but it’s very noisy on a motorway run and too remote to be any fun in the twisty bits
The Atto 3’s suspension is nice and soft, so around town it can ease itself over lumps and bumps in a very comfortable fashion. Forward visibility, thanks to the low-set dashboard, is very good but the smaller back window means that the view rearwards is much less impressive. There is a reversing camera, but it’s too-easily caked in road grime, and doesn’t have its own washer system. It is a very clear camera image, though, and there’s a useful 3D all-round view, as well as a ‘transparent bonnet’ view should you need to pick your way over rocks or something. Meanwhile, the fat front windscreen pillar means that your view into corners and junctions isn’t great.
The steering is nice and light, though, and the 10.7-metre turning circle means that flitting around tight roundabouts and pulling u-turns is never going to be much of a problem. However, the ‘woooo’ of the pedestrian warning hum, made so that people can hear the car coming, is a constant low-speed companion and makes it sound like you’re being followed by the souls of the undead. It’s a bit eerie.
On the motorway
The Atto 3’s 201hp electric motor means that when you need to accelerate from 40mph to 70mph, you’ll not be left hanging around too long — it picks up smartly and accelerates briskly. However, there’s a big problem when you get above 60mph and that’s wind noise. There’s lots of it, especially around the wing mirrors. It’s like being on holiday in a caravan on a Welsh clifftop.
Efficiency is okay, but no more than that. We averaged 3.3 miles per kWh on our test, which equals a real-world range of 190 miles, against the claimed 260-mile range. It’s not the worst, but you might expect better from a company that makes lots of noise about having started as a battery maker, and which designs and builds all its batteries in-house.
On a twisty road
There is a Sport mode for the BYD Atto 3, which you activate with a little toggle switch on the centre console. However, it doesn’t actually seem to do anything other than light up little green ‘SPORT’ letters in the instrument panel. No sharper steering. No more oomph from the electric motor. Pointless?
That soft suspension, which works so nicely around town, is much less of a good thing here as the Atto 3 just never seems to settle down properly. It’s constantly moving about, like someone trying to walk on hot sand on a beach holiday.
There’s an odd feeling with the regenerative braking too, where if you press the brake pedal lightly and then lift off the brakes, the braking effect seems to continue for a couple of seconds. There’s quite a bit of throttle delay too.
The steering is very light and remote. It’s almost like steering the Mars Rover by remote from Houston. It’s a shame, as the Atto 3 actually corners quite well by medium crossover standards, it’s just that there’s no communication from the road to the steering wheel, so you never quite trust it. An MG 4 is way better to drive.
It is at least quite quick. The Atto 3 will pretty easily equal, even beat, its claimed 7.3sec 0-60mph time, even with a little touch of wheelspin as you start your run.
The Atto 3 is just practical enough, but the boot is slightly small compared to some EV SUVs, and it’s short of rear headroom
The front of the Atto 3’s cabin is very practical. There’s a big storage box under the front armrest, and a pair of big cup holders in front of that, which have an adjustable base if you want to put a tall bottle in there. There’s a storage space in front of the gear selector with a wireless phone charger. The glovebox is okay, and a useful open storage area is under the centre console, where you’ll also find USB sockets (both kinds) and a 12-volt connector.
We have to mention the door pockets too, which are reasonably well-sized but which come with four elastic strings to hold things in. These strings look like a guitar, and BYD has styled the door panels and stereo speakers to amp that effect up; the strings are actually taut enough that you can strum them and pick out a bass-line. Odd, but also oddly enjoyable if you’re bored in traffic.
The front seats are comfy but strangely, although they’re electrically adjustable, there’s no lumbar support adjustment.
Space in the back seats
Space in the back of the Atto 3 is mixed. There’s lots of room for legs, knees and feet and the flat rear floor helps if you’re trying to squeeze someone into the centre rear seat. Headroom is a bit too tight, though, especially with the panoramic glass roof, which comes as standard. Actually, the roof helps a bit if you’re trying to go three-abreast, as if you open the sunblind it actually allows the person sat in the middle a fraction of an inch more headroom. It’s a bit of a squeeze even so — the Kia Niro EV is a better bet for rear seat space.
We do like the big seat back pockets though, which are sub-divided so that there’s a big space for a tablet or a magazine, and then two smaller pockets for phones or sunglasses. Another bonus is ISOFIX anchor points which don’t have covers on them (and there’s another ISOFIX point in the front passenger seat), so it’s easy to click baby seats into place. There’s also a couple of USB sockets — one of each again. The guitar-string door bins get another appearance in the back (an encore?), but imagine what will happen when your kids realise they can be plucked…
The Atto 3’s boot is a bit small at 440 litres. That’s not too bad in itself, but the MG ZS gives you an extra 30 litres for considerably less cash, while the Kia e-Niro has 35 litres more than the BYD, which does at least out-point the Peugeot e-2008 and Vauxhall Mokka Electric's respective 408 and 310 litres. On the upside, the loadspace is square and flat, and there’s no load lip so it’s easy to get large and heavy items — a suitcase, a box from a popular Swedish furniture shop — in and out.
The rear seats fold almost totally flat, which helps, and while there are no handles in the boot to tumble them forwards, it’s easy enough to lean in and flick the catch to release them (although there are no retainers for the rear seatbelts, so they’re going to get caught or stuck behind the seatbacks). Oh, and the low-set boot release button gets covered in road grime, so you’re going to end up with messy fingers.
On the upside, there’s a false floor under which you can store your charging cables and — praise be — enough room to tuck the rigid luggage cover away when you don’t need it.
There’s no front-boot (froot?) in the Atto 3, which is odd as there’s a recessed space above the front-mounted electric motor that easily swallows a squashy bag or a backpack, yet BYD has chosen not to actually put a properly lined storage space in there.
There's some good technology on-board the Atto 3, but the cabin's quirky design might put you off
The outside of the BYD Atto 3 looks pretty plain and generic but the interior is not like that. Actually, in some ways it’s quite over-styled. The design is, apparently, supposed to mimic a gym. Yes, you read that right. The big, chunky air vents are supposed to look like dumb-bells (seriously), although the swoopy dash shapes remind us more of some of the supporting cast from Return of the Jedi… Although the gear selector, which looks like the throttle lever of an Airbus, also could have come from the Millennium Falcon, so that’s a good thing.
What’s definitely very good is the big touchscreen in the centre of the dash. Basic versions of the Atto 3 get a 12.0-inch screen, but the top-spec versions get a massive 15.6-inch one. The screen is responsive, and the Apple-style menu and icons work well. Appropriately, you can get Apple CarPlay to connect your phone, but Android Auto won’t be available until there’s a software update — delivered over-the-air — in the coming months.
The screen’s party piece is that, at the touch of a button (either a physical one on the steering wheel or a virtual one on the screen) the whole screen rotates from a horizontal landscape layout to an upright portrait layout, or vice versa. Portrait mode is arguably better for the sat-nav (which is a very clear and accurate system, by the way) but it does take away a little of your forward visibility. And for some odd reason, if you’re wearing polarised sunglasses, the screen basically disappears in portrait mode (something to do with the angles the screen’s pixels work at) so bear that in mind.
The little screen behind the wheel, which is your instrument panel, is tiny compared to the big central screen, and although it’s clear and easy to read, the one on our test car did appear to be sitting at a slight angle, which doesn’t say much for the Atto’s build quality.
The material quality of the upper parts of the cabin is very good — lots of soft-touch surfaces and plenty of buttery-soft ‘pleather’ vegan leather — but lower down, the plastics get very hard and rough-edged, so much so that you can easily injure yourself when opening the steering column adjuster. Still, overall the Atto has a better quality cabin than an equivalent VW or MG, although the seam on the silvery door arm rest looks like it came off a child’s toy, and not an expensive one.
There are some odd touches too — the interior door handles are big, flat rocker switches which rotate around the little stereo speakers. Those speakers have inset LED lights which can be made to pulse to the beat of whatever you’re listening to, and there’s even an optional karaoke system built into the screen…
The front seats are very comfortable, and the imitation leather looks and feels nice, but some might find them to be a little too soft at times. A bit more firm support would be helpful for longer journeys.
Being electric, the Atto 3 is good from a tax point of view. If you’re a private driver it’s going to be free to tax up to 2025, and if you’re a company car buyer you’re only going to get stung for two per cent Benefit in Kind (BIK) tax.
The range, as we’ve mentioned above, isn’t great. In theory, you should be able to get 260 miles out of a full charge, but in the real world, that’s closer to — even under at times — 200 miles, which is not brilliant.
The battery isn’t the quickest thing to charge, either. In spite of BYD’s boasts of advanced battery tech, the maximum DC charging speed when you’re using a high-speed public charging point is 88kW. A VW ID.4 will charge at 135kW. A Hyundai Ioniq 5 will take in a whopping 350kW if you can find a charger that powerful.
For slower charging, basic Atto 3 models will charge at 7.4kW on AC power, such as from a home charger on your driveway, but you can optionally boost that to 11kW AC power. This makes better use of kerb-side chargers, but is still well behind the 22kW AC charging offered by Renault and Nissan.
To be honest, given BYD’s battery expertise (the battery in the laptop or phone you’re reading this on is quite likely to be made by BYD) we’d have expected better on this front. One nice feature, though, is the vehicle-to-load function, which allows you to use the Atto’s battery to charge other things, such as an e-bike or e-scooter, or even in extreme circumstances another electric car. It also means that if you have a smart electric meter at home, you could use it to power your house in the event of a power cut.
All versions of the BYD Atto 3 come with plenty of safety tech, including blind spot detection, traction control, adaptive (that is, radar-guided) cruise control, traffic sign recognition, automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping steering, and rear collision warning. The Atto 3 has been crash-tested by Euro NCAP and scored a full five-star rating, with a 91 per cent adult protection score, which is at the top end for its class.
The Atto 3 is a new car made by (from a UK perspective) a new car maker, so we simply don’t have a good fix on how reliable it might be yet. In general, electric cars — thanks to their simplicity — are more reliable on average than their petrol or diesel equivalents, but the Atto is electronically complex and some of the build quality in the cabin is less than perfect, which could be a worry.
The Atto 3 comes with a four-year, 70,000-mile warranty for the whole car, which is extended 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.
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*Please contact the dealer for a personalised quote, including terms and conditions. Quote is subject to dealer requirements, including status and availability. Illustrations are based on personal contract hire, 9 month upfront fee, 48 month term and 8000 miles annually, VAT included.