BYD Atto 3 long-term test: report 5

Can an unfamiliar car brand show established names a thing or two when it comes to comfortable, practical and cost-effective electric motoring? We're finding out...

BYD Atto 3 long-term departure

The car BYD Atto 3 Run by Chris Haining, Sub-editor

Why it’s here To find out whether an unfamiliar brand can show established names a thing or two when it comes to comfortable, practical and cost-effective electric motoring.

Needs to Cope with a long motorway commute, accommodate an active lifestyle and be easy to live with day to day

Mileage 5742 List price £38,990 Target Price £38,990 Price as tested £38,990 Official range 260 miles Test range 200-234 miles

2 October 2023 – Manoeuvring becomes a game

At 6:30 AM on a workday, usually slightly bleary-eyed, I disconnect my BYD Atto 3 from my Indra Smart Pro home charger and prepare for my commute to the What Car? office in Twickenham. I stab the car's start button, check that Eco mode is on and the air conditioning is switched off to preserve range, then select BBC 6 Music on the DAB radio to preserve my sanity on the M25 motorway.

BYD Atto 3 long-term 360deg cam

Before I hit the road, however, I have to negotiate my own driveway. It's quite steeply inclined and rather narrow, aggressively bordered on one side by the bluff brick cliff of my house, with a vicious kerb on the other that's hungrily poised to gouge chunks out of alloy wheels. Happily, help is at hand in the Atto 3, thanks to the 360-degree camera that comes with my car's Design trim level.

In common with other cameras of this type, it displays a top-down view of the car, rather like you'd see if you were playing the original Grand Theft Auto video game on the first-generation Sony Playstation console. It goes further than that, too, showing a three-dimensional recreation of my car, right down to the correct colour and alloy wheel design. It even shows the indicators when they flash, and it swivels the front wheels when I steer, as if I were driving the Atto 3 in a computer game.

BYD Atto 3 long-term tyre sidewall

Portraying my car and its surroundings from any of six perspectives, it’s the second pair of eyes I need when manoeuvring in tight spots, and it works really well on my drive. However, it can’t completely overcome the power of human stupidity, and the other day I still managed to clip my drive’s concrete edging with the nearside front wheel. 

A thoroughly sickening noise rent the still early morning air, but I was soon extremely glad of another of the Atto 3’s features – deep tyre sidewalls. Had I made the same mistake in my previous Honda Civic, I’d be facing the cost of alloy wheel refurbishment. The Atto’s less slender tyre profile, though, meant I got away with a mere scuff in the surface of the rubber.

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