Byd Atto 3 Facelift review: More well-rounded than before, readier to take on growing competition

Byd Atto 3 Facelift review: More well-rounded than before, readier to take on growing competition
PHOTO: sgCarMart

BYD no longer needs to prove itself.

Almost as quickly as you can say 'Build Your Dreams' in full, the brand has zipped up the bestselling charts in Singapore, superseding legacy carmakers as well as its American arch-rival in its bid to be the first name you think of when it comes to electric cars.

Off the strength of the first two months in 2024 alone, it's already put more than 650 cars onto our roads — the large majority of which were classified as SUVs. And in case it wasn't already clear, BYD currently only sells one SUV in Singapore: The Atto 3.

Considering that consumers are already scooping it up by the dozens, you'd also assume that the brand would be content with the car as it is. On the contrary, however, it's decided to make some light tweaks to keep the Atto 3 fresh — with this 2024 iteration of the bestselling electric SUV.

Extra subtlety on the outside, extra shimmer on the inside 

A couple of light tweaks are really all there are to the car — and literally so — both of which serve to cloak the car in a bit more subtlety than before.

For starters, those 'Dragon Scales' on the car's D-pillars have shedded their silver shimmer, and are now coated in gloss black as standard (this was previously only part of the add-on Carbon Edge pack).

Secondly, come round to the rear and you'll notice less badging struck across its tailgate. Instead of 'BUILD YOUR DREAMS' being spelled out in full across its tailgate, the car now gets a much simpler 'BYD' instead. 

Admittedly, these are squint-and-you'll-miss tweaks, on a car whose design didn't need much correcting to begin with. As competitors catch up with full-length LED strips up front and behind, the Atto 3's 'Dragon Face' inspired design language is still pleasant to behold today. 

Likewise, the interior has gotten a couple of updates this time round. The first one, again, is directed at making the experience more muted; a new Boulder Black/Cosmos Blue upholstery combination shouts out less for your attention than the sole Eclipse Blue/Hazy Grey one offered previously.

The other update, however, dials things up: In the form of a new 15.6-inch rotating infotainment display on the centre of the dash. (Incidentally, this is the exact screen you'll find on the Seal.)

The Atto 3's previous 12.8-inch unit wasn't anything to scoff at to begin with — but the extra glitz provided by the new unit now makes the older dashboard look like something was missing.

Wow factor aside, the upsized screen does carry some tangible benefits that are pleasantly welcome: The right edge of it falls just that much nicer to hand when you need to operate it; add on the slightly larger icons, and operating the entire thing is just that much more pleasant, especially with Apple CarPlay (sadly, and weirdly, only wireless connectivity is supported for Android Auto). 

Otherwise the rest of the cabin retains the Atto 3's familiar whimsy. Over the nearly-two years since the Atto 3's Singapore launch, we've gotten fairly used to its phantasmagoric mish-mash of muscle fibre/athletic imagery. 

But a quick run-in with some colleagues from a different department as we were returning to the office — who are not involved with car-reviewing — served as a good reminder that this is a deeply intriguing space for first-timers. 

Indeed, there's something new to take in everywhere you look: Whether it's the dash, the four door-mounted speakers with the door handles curved over them, or even the guzheng strings stretched across the door bins. The gear shifter — shaped in the form of an airplane thrust lever — remains one of our favourite parts of the cabin.

Two years on, this remains a riot of an interior — and still one of the most interesting, if divisive, spaces you'll find on a new car today.

The extra mile

This 2024 update doesn't change the powertrain of the Atto 3 either — there are no bumps in power or torque — but to do so would be counterintuitive.

You'll remember that the car was initially launched with a 150kW electric motor, but got a 'detuned' version of it last year to slot it nicely under the power ceiling for a Category A COE.

The latter is carried over exactly now, sending 100kW (134bhp) and a not-shabby 310Nm of instant torque to the car's front wheels. 

As we've already experienced, keener drivers will need to put the Atto 3 into either Normal or Sport mode to wring some sprightliness out of it.

Otherwise, even in Eco, sensations of comfort and serenity take the front seat, with the car accelerating effortlessly off the line — and in remarkable silence too, save for the low whistle of its motor.

BYD has made one vital change this time, however, to the Atto 3. Although its rims remain at an appropriately-sized 18 inches, the car's original Atlas Batman A51s have been swapped out for more premium Continental EcoContact 6s. The latter are wider, too, with a 235/50 series compared to the 215/55 size on the Batman A51s.

Consequently, the overall ride quality has taken a slight but notable upward tick with the new car. It's slight, but significant: The new tyres do that bit more justice to the Atto 3's softer-than-average suspension damping, providing better pliancy and some extra silence over the previous ones. Consequently, the car feels even more relaxing to drive around than before.

Coupled with its silent and gear-less drivetrain, the Atto 3 boasts the same air of ease — enhanced slightly now — whether it's on smaller roads or on the highway, where its well-insulated cabin shines through.

Best of all, the new tyres don't seem to affect efficiency. With our driving patterns, we would have gotten a driving range of more than 420km from a full charge of the car's 60.5kWh battery (which, by the way, can now take a higher DC charging ceiling of 88kW, up from 80kW previously). 

Rolling on with the times

To call the sum of the latest updates a full-out facelift would feel like an overstatement. At the same time, there's no denying that every calculated tweak ultimately manifests as welcome upgrades that enhance the Atto 3's appeal.

The time at which these updates are arriving, however, coincides with yet another interesting turning point for Singapore's automotive landscape.

2024 is already shaping up to receive a not-insignificant influx of new players, all of which want a slice of the mass-market, electric SUV pie. As such, the fact that BYD has seen it fit to re-examine what else the Atto 3 can offer still is thus perfectly understandable too.

Interestingly, ponder just a bit longer, and the ostensibly limited breadth of extra goodies given to the Atto 3 this time actually speaks to how much the car has always offered to begin with. 

Our third outing with the car reminded us again just how much it packs on as standard, including the likes of an electronic tailgate, a panoramic sunroof, and the full suite of driving assistance systems. To be clear, the car isn't perfect; it's not the most engaging to drive, for instance, nor does it have the most calming cabin.

Nonetheless, it's also completely understandable why the average Singaporean driver may find it difficult it turn their head away, considering the Atto 3's solid foundations as an EV: Of offering commendable range, an easygoing drive, and generous interior space. 

These factors, put together, will bring you back to the same conclusion: That in 2024, the Atto 3 still holds strong as one of the most bang-for-buck, and thus also compelling electric SUVs on the market. 

ALSO READ: Citroen e-C4 X review: Offers a cushy ride and an easy-going, driver-friendly character

This article was first published in sgCarMart.

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