BYD Atto 3 Review 2024

Written by Phill Tromans

6/10
heycar ratingA solid and quirky electric SUV but with room for improvement
  • 2023
  • Small SUV
  • EV

Quick overview

Pros

  • Loads of features as standard
  • Excellent safety rating
  • Funky interior design

Cons

  • Lack of attention to detail
  • Steering feels over-assisted and artificial
  • Small boot

Overall verdict on the BYD Atto 3

“The BYD Atto 3 is a decent family SUV, with a particularly quirky and eye-catching interior, a tonne of features for the money and a reasonable driving experience. Its major problem is that there are lots of other very decent cars of this type and several feel more polished than this. Still, it’s definitely worth checking out, as it represents a lot of car and a lot of kit for the money.”

BYD Atto 3 Review 2024: front static

BYD (which stands for “Build Your Dreams”) is a relatively new brand to the UK, but it’s been established in its native China for more than 20 years. Since 2023 it’s been making something of a splash on these shores with a range of interesting electric cars. The Atto 3 is its mid-size SUV and aims to take on an ever-increasing number of rivals, including the Kia Niro EV, the MG ZS EV, Volkswagen’s ID.4, the Skoda Enyaq iV and the Hyundai Kona Electric.


The Atto 3’s key selling points are its packed feature list, its easy-to-understand trim range and some quirky features that make it stand out against the competition. While it’s not as impressively affordable as the MG ZS EV, it represents good value considering how many features you get for your cash.


Its plus points are many: the quirky interior design really sets it apart from its rivals, with some visually impressive features such as a huge rotating touchscreen system. The driving experience is focused more on comfort than dynamism but it cruises very nicely, and there’s lots of room for passengers in the back.


Downsides? Well, there’s a lack of polish and attention to detail in some areas and the boot could be bigger. The battery range of 260 miles is reasonable but nothing remarkable, and from an ownership point of view there’s a lack of servicing facilities in some parts of the country.


Some of the issues we’ve had with the Atto 3 could be easily solved with software updates, and may well have been by the time you read this, but others will require consideration to see if they’ll affect you.


Overall, however, the Atto 3 is a thoroughly decent car, and one that gives us lots of optimism for BYD models of the future.

We think the BYD Atto 3 could be right up your street if you’re looking for a practical and feature-packed electric SUV at a decent price. Badge snobs need not apply, and you’ll need to be happy with a few features that could be considered gimmicks (some will find tunable elastic door pocket strings that can be played like a guitar a step too far, but others will be delighted by them).


You won’t need the biggest possible range from the battery, and you won’t need to pack the boot full on a regular basis, because there are rivals that better fulfil those criteria. But you will like to stand out from the crowd, and feel like you’re getting a good amount for your money.

The BYD Atto 3 has a single 60kWh battery and 204PS electric motor combination, so your only choice is in trims. Originally the Atto 3 had a choice of three trims – Active, Comfort and Design – although Active was later dropped from the lineup. In an effort to make the car-buying experience easier, there were no options for new Atto 3 buyers – just trim and one of five paint colours.


Such is the feature-list on the entry-level cars, whether that be Active or Comfort, that we’re not convinced it’s worth upgrading to the top-spec Design model. The Comfort is barely more expensive than the Active, especially use, and gets an 11kW on-board charger compared to the 7kW charger on the Active. That will make charging faster, so is worth the small extra cost.

If you’re looking at the BYD Atto 3 then it’s worth considering its electric SUV rivals, notably the excellent but pricier Kia Niro EV, the Skoda Enyaq iV, which is a brilliant all-rounder, and the spacious Hyundai Kona Electric, which has an impressive battery range. The MG ZS EV is also worth looking at, offering tremendous value for money. Other decent options include the Nissan Ariya, the Smart #1 and the Volvo EX30.

Comfort and design: BYD Atto 3 interior

"If the Atto 3’s exterior design is somewhat unremarkable, the interior is anything but. The designers have been given the chance to come up with something very different from BYD’s rivals, with an eye-catching and dare we say funky look finished in blue and light grey with red accents."

BYD Atto 3 Review 2024: interior

The door pockets are made up of elastic strings that can be played like a guitar, while the centre armrest is inspired by a treadmill with a gear selector reminiscent of a fighter jet throttle. There are bold organic curves across the dashboard, which is otherwise dominated by a large tablet-like touchscreen that can swivel from portrait to landscape orientation and vice versa.



The front seats are generally comfortable and supportive, although tall drivers should note that the headrests don’t adjust. This six-foot writer found his shoulders rubbed on the base of the headrest, so someone taller would be well advised to test the seat before buying.



The Atto 3 comes with a glass panoramic sunroof as standard, which is impressive considering this feature is usually the preserve of top-spec trims, if it‘s offered at all. It contributes very nicely to the airy and bright feeling in the cabin.

Build and material quality in the BYD Atto 3 is generally good. Everything feels solidly put together and there’s a tactility and variety to the materials used.


We do worry about how dirty the light grey material finish on the dashboard will get after some time and how easy it’ll be to clean. That could be a small price to pay for the relatively extravagant and joyful feel of the cabin. It feels fun and a welcome change from the somewhat drab interiors of many rival cars.

For all the flashy design inside the BYD Atto 3, the dashboard is still dominated by the large touchscreen infotainment system, measuring 12.8 inches across or 15.6 inches on top-spec Design models. It’s a system that owes a lot to Tesla in terms of its design and scope – just about everything is controlled through the screen, although you do still have traditional stalks behind the steering wheel for lights, indicators and wipers. 


We’ve found the screen quick to respond, but features like air-conditioning still require tapping through menus though, which soon gets tiresome. The lack of physical controls makes for a more attractive cabin, but at the expense of practicality. You can adjust some systems using voice control, but we’ve found it very hit and miss, often completely failing to understand what we’ve asked.


The Atto 3’s party piece is its rotating screen, which can swivel from landscape to portrait orientation at the touch of a button. It’s not just a gimmick – BYD says that customers like having a portrait screen when using navigation as it enables them to better see the route ahead, and having tried the in-built satnav, they have a valid point. That said, if you use Apple CarPlay or Android Auto – as a lot of people do – then the gimmick is rendered redundant, as it’ll only work in landscape mode. 


There’s also a digital driver display on top of the steering column rather than traditional dials. This is useful in some ways, but feels like it hasn’t been fully developed. At night time, when the main screen switches to dark mode, the driver’s display remains very bright.


The layout isn’t very intuitive either, and information often isn’t displayed in a particularly logical way. For example, turn on the car and the words “Standard”, “OK” and “Normal” are displayed on the bottom of the screen, with no labelling to tell you what they’re referring to. Switch the wipers to intermittent, the message “intermittent_2” pops up, rather than a more polished presentation text. It feels like the development team forgot to finish a few minor jobs off. This is all stuff that can likely be fixed through software updates – and indeed may already have been by the time you read this – but it smacks of a lack of care.


That feeling continues in other areas. There are USB sockets for both USB-A and newer-style USB-C cables in the front, which is nice to see. However, if you want to use Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, you’ll have to use the USB-A connector, as the USB-C one only provides power to your device and won’t carry data. The sockets are also difficult to get to, mounted low down and out of sight. There are USB-A and USB-C charging sockets in the back, too.

The BYD is a practical car, with good passenger space and lots of storage inside, although the boot is on the small side. Adults will have no issues up front, save for the previously mentioned headrest concerns for taller folk.


Those in the back will have lots of foot and legroom, and the flat floor means there’s even a decent amount of leg space for those in the middle seat. The panoramic sunroof does slightly impinge on headspace for taller adults.


Visibility around the car is generally good, although not so great out of the back due to the large C-pillars and a small rear window. However, the car’s camera system makes parking and manoeuvring straightforward.


There are big pockets in the back of the front seats to store magazines, comics and colouring books, and they’ve got pockets within pockets for phones. Up front, there are loads of storage spaces, including a large space under the centre armrest, large cup holders and a space in front of the gear selector with a wireless phone charger. A space under the centre console – where the aforementioned USB chargers can be found – is useful for keeping odds and ends, although again, it’s hard to see when you’re trying to find stuff.


The boot is a touch tight for this type of car. It measures 440 litres in capacity, and it’s definitely not small, but pokey compared to rivals like the Kia Niro EV (475 litres), Hyundai Kona Electric (466 litres) and MG ZS EV (470). The boot lip is quite high but the movable boot floor sits flush with it when at its highest setting, and it can be dropped for extra space. Underneath is a large storage space where you can keep your charging cable. The back seats fold down in a 60/40 split to expand the luggage space to 1340 litres, although they don’t quite sit flat.


The hands-free locking system is useful, as long as you’re locking the car from the driver’s door, as that’s the only handle that has the locking button. Want to lock the car after getting a child out of the nearside back door? You either have to go all the way around to press the button, or use the fob. Would it be that difficult to put a button on the passenger door, too?

Handling and ride quality: What is the BYD Atto 3 like to drive?

"The BYD Atto 3 is set up more for comfort than excitement behind the wheel, and it achieves that aim well. The ride is cushioned and comfortable but at the same time body roll is well contained through the corners. The steering is very light and feels fairly distant from the front wheels, but the handling is responsive enough."

You can adjust the level of brake regeneration, which determines how much power is harvested back into the battery when braking or cruising. While the higher of the two settings adds extra braking effect, you can’t really drive using only the accelerator pedal, which is something that some rivals offer.

The BYD Atto 3 comes only with a 60kWh battery attached to a 204PS electric motor that drives the front wheels. The 0-62mph benchmark sprint passes in 7.3 seconds, which is quicker than some rivals. Acceleration doesn’t feel particularly exhilarating but it’s more than powerful enough to get quickly up to speed on the motorway, or to pull off an overtake.

The official battery range of the BYD Atto 3 is 260 miles, which should be plenty for most people but lags behind the likes of the Kia Niro EV (285 miles), Hyundai Kona Electric (319 miles) and MG ZS EV (273 miles. The official efficiency figure is 3.88miles per kWh, which is actually better than some rivals.

Generally speaking, refinement in the BYD Atto 3 is very good, with no creaks or rattles from our test car and minimal road or wind noise. There’s a little buffeting around the side mirrors, but that’s a common factor in electric cars generally – when there’s no engine noise to mask it, you tend to notice things more.

Safety organisation Euro NCAP gave the BYD Atto 3 a maximum five-star rating when it was tested in 2022, with impressively high scores in both adult and child occupant safety. Lots of safety systems come as standard, including automatic emergency braking, blind-spot assist and adaptive cruise control. Rear-traffic warning is also included.


We did find that some systems were occasionally sensitive compared to rival cars. For example, the Atto 3 warned us several times that we were veering out of our lane even when we weren’t. That said, it’s absolutely fine most of the time.


Isofix child seat mounting points are included on the outer rear seats.

Charging times: How much does it cost to charge the BYD Atto 3?

"The BYD Atto 3 can be charged at up to 88kW from a rapid charger, which isn’t particularly fast by today’s standards. That said, it’s similar to the Niro EV and the MG ZS EV, but slower than cars like the Volvo EX30 and the Smart #1."

BYD Atto 3 Review 2024: side profile

Charging from 30% to 80% will take 29 minutes, BYD says. That’s not too long for a reasonable range injection, but it’s less impressive when you consider that the Volkswagen ID.4 can manage to charge its larger battery from 10% to 80% in the same time.


A heat pump is included as standard, which is a bonus over some rivals, which feature it as an option.

The Atto 3 is too new for us to have any meaningful reliability data. Indeed, BYD as a UK brand is also brand new. That said, electric cars tend to be more reliable than petrol or diesel models, as there are fewer things to go wrong.

Although it’s not a particularly powerful or expensive car, the BYD Atto 3 sits in insurance group 38 of 50, which means insurance costs are likely to be on the pricey side. In comparison, the Kia Niro EV sits in groups 28 and 29, the Skoda Enyaq iV in groups 23 and 24 and the MG ZS EV between groups 21 and 28.


It’s worth noting that BYD is still in the process of rolling out its UK-wide servicing network, and right now there are some large geographical gaps. If you live in the South East, East or North West, for example, you may find that your nearest service centre is a serious distance away. This will likely improve as more centres open, however,

You won’t pay any Vehicle Excise Duty (car tax) on the all-electric BYD Atto 3 at the moment, but that will change in 2025. From April, electric cars will attract the same flat rate as normal cars, which is currently £190 a year.

How much should you be paying for a used BYD Atto 3?

"New prices start at £37,695 for the Comfort model and £39,695 for the Design."

BYD Atto 3 Review 2024: static

The BYD Atto 3 is still a pretty new car, and demand for used electric cars is relatively high. At the time of writing in Spring 2024, prices for used examples start at around £22,000 and rise to around £29,000 for a low-mileage, top-spec Design model.

When the BYD Atto 3 originally launched the entry-level model was the Active, which came very well equipped. Owners will get LED headlights and 18-inch alloy wheels, the panoramic sunroof and dual-zone climate control, as well as an eight-speaker sound system, ambient interior lighting and electrically adjustable front seats clad in synthetic leather upholstery. The touchscreen is the smaller (but still big) 12.8-inch version with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.


Upgrade to the Comfort and the changes are minimal – you’ll get the upgraded onboard charger and associated cable, and that’s about it. The top-spec Design model, meanwhile, gets the larger 15.6-inch touchscreen, an electric boot lid and electric folding door mirrors.

Ask the heycar experts: common questions

Yes, orders are now open for the new BYD Atto 3 in the UK.
Apparently, 'BYD' stands for 'build your dreams'. Yes, you can buy a BYD Atto 3 without that written across the rear.
Yes, the BYD Atto 3 is a good electric car. It needs some polishing to make it 'excellent', but it's certainly worthy of your consideration.

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