BYD Atto 3 review

Category: Electric car

The Atto 3 is BYD's smallest electric SUV, and is well priced and well equipped

Red BYD Atto 3 front cornering
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  • BYD Atto 3 interior driver display
  • Red BYD Atto 3 right driving
  • Red BYD Atto 3 front cornering
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  • BYD Atto 3 interior front seats
  • BYD Atto 3 interior back seats
  • BYD Atto 3 interior steering wheel detail
  • BYD Atto 3 interior infotainment
  • BYD Atto 3 interior gearshift detail
  • BYD Atto 3 interior detail
  • BYD Atto 3 interior detail
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  • BYD Atto 3 interior panoramic roof
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Introduction

What Car? says...

The BYD Atto 3 is from a brand you might not be familiar with, but that worldwide sells more electric cars than anyone else.

In fact, last year BYD sold a colossal 1.57 million electric cars – more than Hyundai, Volkswagen and, at times, even Tesla. So, how come BYD isn't that well known yet? 

Well, it is in its home market of China, and if you've ever been to London you might have unwittingly travelled in one because BYD builds the capital's fleet of electric buses. However, the Atto 3 was the first car BYD offered for sale in the UK, arriving before the BYD Dolphin and BYD Seal.

The Atto 3 is an electric SUV that's about the same size as a Nissan Qashqai. It's not as budget-focused as the slightly smaller MG ZS EV but costs about the same as some other electric alternatives, including the Hyundai Kona Electric, Kia Niro EV, Smart #1 and Volvo EX30. 

So, how does the BYD Atto 3 stack up in all the important areas? Read on and we'll tell you all you need to know.

Red BYD Atto 3 rear cornering

Overview

The Atto 3 well priced given how generously equipped it is, plus it has a good safety rating and a battery that doesn't contain cobalt. Sadly, it's let down by uncomfortable front seats, sloppy handling and a relatively slow maximum charging speed. Go for the cheaper Comfort trim is you're buying one.

  • Good Euro NCAP safety rating
  • Very well equipped
  • Decent boot
  • Relatively slow to charge
  • Wallowy handling
  • Poor seat comfort
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Byd Atto-3 150kW Comfort 60kWh 5dr Auto review
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

All versions of the BYD Atto 3 have a 201bhp electric motor driving the front wheels. In our tests, 0-60mph took 7.3 seconds, which means acceleration is roughly on a par with the Kia Niro EV.

That's plenty fast enough for most but, if you want something nippier, try the similarly priced Smart #1, which can launch itself to 60mph from a standstill in just 5.8 seconds.

The Atto 3's regenerative braking system has two levels, but neither is strong enough to bring the car to a stop. You'll need to use the brake pedal for that.

Still, the Atto 3 feels at home in urban environments, where its soft suspension helps take the sting out of larger imperfections, and any cornering forces are likely to be minimal.

On faster roads, you’ll wish things were a bit more controlled. That wallowy suspension results in a noticeable amount of body bounce over undulations, and there’s also plenty of lean through corners.

The steering disappoints too. It’s lifeless at low to moderate speeds and the wheel kicks back in your hands aggressively as you approach the limits of grip around bends. That supple ride at low speeds becomes increasingly fidgety the faster you go.

The Atto 3 is a noisier motorway cruiser than the Smart #1, with lots of wind noise from around the front pillars at 70mph. It's still a quieter companion than the MG ZS EV though, and not much tyre noise makes its way inside.

BYD ATTO 3 image
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Officially, all versions of the Atto 3 can cover 260 miles on a full battery, which trails most rivals, including the Hyundai Kona Electric (up to 319 miles), the MG ZS EV (up to 273 miles) and the Niro EV (285 miles). 

In our real-world range test on a warm summer day, the Atto 3 managed 215 miles on a full charge. All Atto 3s come with a heat pump for more efficient warming of the interior in cooler weather, but don't expect much more than 180 miles in the depths of winter.

"While the Atto 3 doesn't wow you with its acceleration, it's still pretty quick by non-EV standards, managing the 0-60mph sprint in less time than it takes the Ford Puma 1.0 Ecoboost 155 and Volkswagen T-Roc 1.0 TSI to do it." – Dan Jones, Reviewer

Driving overview

Strengths Respectable performance; comfortable low-speed ride

Weaknesses Wallowy handling; so-so range; wind noise at motorway speeds

BYD Atto 3 interior dashboard

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

The designers of the BYD Atto 3's interior didn't hold back. The dashboard has a swooping look, and is said to be inspired by objects from a gym.

For example, the door handles are barbell-style levers that wrap around the speakers. There’s also a kettlebell-handle gear selector and the contour of the centre armrest is apparently based on a treadmill. 

It’s definitely quirky, but the materials feels a bit cheap compared with those in, say, a Smart #1 or a Volvo EX30. The vinyl seats are not very convincing and the new plastic odour in our test car was overpowering.

All versions come with electrically adjustable front seats, although the fact that there's no adjustable lumbar support on any version is a problem. It means there's very little lower back support, and some of our testers complained of backache even on short journeys.

At least you get an SUV experience from behind the wheel, though, because you sit noticeably higher up than in a #1, Niro EV or EX30. It's just a pity the windscreen pillars block a fair amount of your view at junctions and roundabouts (the #1 and Niro EV are much easier to see out of).

You shouldn't have any trouble parking the Atto 3, because all versions come with front and rear parking sensors, and a 360-degree bird's eye-view camera as standard. All Atto 3s have LED headlights with automatic high-beam assist, helping you see where you're going at night.

Behind the steering wheel, there's a 5in digital instrument panel, which is about the same size as the one in a Skoda Enyaq. It's a pity it isn't more configurable and the quality of screen lags behind nearly all electric SUV rivals, which have sharper graphics and better contrast.

The 15.6in touchscreen infotainment system in the range-topping Design model is far more impressive. It can rotate itself from portrait to landscape orientation at the touch of a button (well, icon), and its generous size means most icons are big and easy to hit. The resolution of the screen impresses too, as does its response times.

In Comfort trim you get a 12.8in touchscreen instead. We haven't tried this smaller display yet, but it can rotate and, like the larger system, comes with wireless phone-charging, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

"The rotating screen might seem like a bit of a gimmick at first, but it does come in handy, with different functions (like music, maps, etc.) suiting either portrait or landscape orientation." – Lawrence Cheung, New Cars Editor

Interior overview

Strengths Lofty driving position; good infotainment system; quirky looking interior

Weaknesses Front seats short on support; some interior plastics feel cheap; windscreen pillars block your view at junctions

BYD Atto 3 boot open

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

The BYD Atto 3 is longer and taller than a Smart #1 or a Kia Niro EV, so surely it's roomier in the back? Well, surprisingly it has less leg and head room than both of those rivals.

That's not a dealbreaker (a couple of taller adults will still fit) but rear space definitely isn’t an Atto 3 selling point. And unlike some rivals, including the #1, the rear seats don't slide back and forth, nor can you adjust the angle of the backrests.

Fortunately, boot space is more impressive, and we managed to fit six carry-on suitcases below the Atto 3’s parcel shelf. The boot floor is height adjustable, and in its highest setting there’s only a small lip at the entrance.

In short, the Atto 3's boot is much bigger and more practical than a #1's, although we managed to fit seven carry-on cases in the boot of the Niro EV. 

The Atto 3's rear seatback splits and folds in a 60/40 arrangement. However, there's no ski hatch to poke longer items between your rear passengers (there is in the #1) and no under-bonnet storage for the charging cable, either.

Front stowage space is plentiful, with an area under the front centre console, a pair of cupholders and a cubby below the centre armrest. In the rear, you'll find pockets on the backs of the front seats for maps and mobile phones, plus a pair of cupholders in the fold-down centre armrest.

And while some cars employ netting for storage pockets on the doors, the Atto 3 uses three elastic strings that are tuned like those on a guitar. No, seriously – you can play Deep Purple's Smoke on the Water on them.

"The elastic strings are amusing at first, but if you have bored children in the back, the constant twanging is likely to become annoying." – Claire Evans, Consumer Editor

Practicality overview

Strengths Good sized boot; height-adjustable boot floor; good amount of interior stowage

Weaknesses Rivals are roomier in the back; rear seats don't do anything clever; no under-bonnet storage

BYD Atto 3 interior driver display

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

The BYD Atto 3 is currently offered in two trim levels – Comfort and Design – although our sources suggest a cheaper entry-level trim is on the way. That should help make the starting price a bit more tempting because, as it stands, you can buy a Hyundai Kona Electric, Smart #1 or Volvo EX30 for less.

Monthly PCP finance costs are competitive, though, especially when BYD if offering a contribution towards your deposit to sweeten the deal, something it was doing at the time of writing. You can check the latest prices on our new BYD deals pages.

What's more, you get loads of standard equipment, including an opening panoramic sunroof, heated front seats, faux-leather upholstery, adaptive cruise control, keyless entry and a vehicle-to-load facility, which essentially allows you to convert your Atto 3 into a three-pin domestic plug socket.

Top-spec Design adds the bigger touchscreen infotainment system, a powered tailgate and a better filtration system for the air-conditioning. We don't think it's worth the extra, though.

All Atto 3s can charge at speeds of up to 88kW, which isn't especially quick and means you'll be waiting around 45 minutes for a 10-80% top-up. Admittedly, you'd be waiting a similar time in a Niro EV, but the #1 and EX30 can charge significantly quicker (in less than half an hour).

We don't yet have any reliability data for the Atto 3 or BYD as a brand, so we’ll have to see how it fares over the years. To give you some peace of mind, there's a four-year/70,000-mile warranty on most components. That’s a little above average in the class, although doesn’t come close to the generous seven-year offering that Kia gives you. As with most electric cars, the battery comes with its own eight-year warranty.

The Atto 3 scored the full five stars when it was tested for safety by Euro NCAP in 2022. There's an extensive suite of safety kit fitted as standard to all models, including automatic emergency braking (AEB), lane-keeping assistance, blind-spot monitoring and traffic-sign recognition.

"The Atto 3 is likely to be the priciest between it, the Niro EV and the #1, mainly due to its faster rate of depreciation and higher servicing costs." – Neil Winn, Deputy Reviews Editor

Costs overview

Strengths Loads of standard kit; five-star safety rating; competitive PCP finance deals

Weaknesses Relatively slow to charge; higher starting price than some rivals

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FAQs

  • While the Atto 3 has lots of strengths, its biggest weaknesses are its sloppy handling and its relatively slow maximum charging speed

  • In our real-world range test the Atto 3 managed 215 miles before grinding to a halt. That was on a fairly warm summer's day, so don't expect to see much more than 180 miles in the depths of winter.

  • A small number of Tesla Superchargers are open to drivers of non-Tesla electric cars. If you visit one of these locations and have the Tesla app on your phone, you'll be able to charge up your Atto 3.

At a glance
New car deals
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Target Price from £36,308
Save up to £1,462
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From £22,999
RRP price range £37,695 - £39,695
Number of trims (see all)2
Number of engines (see all)1
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)electric
Available doors options 5
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £75 / £79
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £151 / £159
Available colours