BYD Atto 3 long-term test: report 7

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 infotainment

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 9482 List price £38,990 Target Price £38,990 Price as tested £38,990 Official range 260 miles Test range 200-234 miles

13 November 2023 – Touch and go

We've all heard the story about the child who washes their parents' car in an effort to please them and make them proud, only for that plan to backfire when they inspect their offspring's handywork; it turns out there's a reason professional valeters don't use scouring pads. I bring this up, because BYD has clearly gone to quite some effort with the infotainment system in the Atto 3, but it's not without its flaws.

The screen itself is fine. It's an imposing size (15.6in in my car's "Design" spec), and has the neat party trick of revolving from landscape to portrait mode (or vice versa) at the touch of an icon or a steering wheel button. The graphics are as as crisp and legible as you could want, too, although the screen could do with being a bit more responsive; it often takes me a good few finger-jabs of the icon I'm interested in before anything happens.

BYD Atto 3 long-term infotainment shortcuts

I wish, though, that BYD had put a bit more thought into usability. You can't, for instance, have media and sat-nav on screen at the same time, so you have to come out of the application for one if you want to use the other. Changing the interior temperature – which is displayed at the bottom of the screen (most of the time... as will be explained) – takes multiple screen jabs and requires diverting your eyes from the road, and the full gamut of climate adjustments is accessible only via a home screen shortcut that opens a specific air-con menu. 

Things are more complicated still if you're using Android Auto (which works wirelessly in the Atto 3). When Google Maps is running, for example, it dominates the screen to the exclusion of everything else, with no climate control shortcut to be seen. So, the process of turning my heated seat on, for example, is as follows: stab an icon on to the right of the map to bring a menu up; select the BYD app from the far left corner of the menu; hit the climate control icon; hit the heated seats menu; select the low or high setting; touch the home screen button and re-select Android Auto. That's seven screen-prods in seven different spots. 

BYD Atto 3 long-term infotainment Google Maps

Admittedly, I could use the voice control to do this, but when I'm listening to music (and I always am), I really don't want to interrupt it. The latest, similarly priced Hyundai Kona Electric, meanwhile, has an easy-to-find button for the heated seats. Okay, perhaps that makes it look less futuristic inside than the Atto 3, but it's rather easier to use on the move.

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