BYD Atto 3: A genuine game changer

PHOTO: Motorist

The BYD Atto 3 is more than just another electric crossover. It promises to fundamentally revolutionise its segment, offering equipment and technology never before seen in its price bracket.

Ahead of our in-depth press drive of the new BYD Atto 3, the Vantage folks were kind enough to offer us some time behind the wheel to have some preliminary thoughts of their latest offering. So then, just how does the Atto 3 actually feel on the road?

The eye of the dragon

The Atto 3 utilises BYD’s latest Dragon Face 3.0 design language, which heavily references forms from the aforementioned creature.

This is no more apparent than in the profile of the headlights, as well as the general swoopy design cues throughout the body. It’s a handsome looking car overall, though there’s definitely more than meets the eye with it.

Admittedly, this is unorthodox for a First Drive article, though we can’t help but get the sense that BYD actually has a sense of humour, especially with all the mentions of said mythical creature. Let us explain.

PHOTO: Motorist

All the dragon references in their marketing excerpts have us believe that BYD wanted us to draw parallels with the eponymous creature from the Chinese Zodiac. In which case, we believe the only way to do justice to the Atto 3, is by associating their previous models with “Tigers” rather than “Rabbits”.

It is so far ahead of the older BYD cars that you’ll have to skip a level (animal) to truly showcase just how large the leap forward is as compared to its predecessors - it’s a similar train of thought that Aston Martin had when naming the DB7 and the DB9.

PHOTO: Motorist

Could the references also hint at the Atto 3’s advanced onboard technology? The next Year Of The Dragon is scheduled to fall in 2024, which unless you are a time-traveller, is very much in the future.

It could be a subtle hint that the car is very much ahead of its time - at its price range, it is the only car to come with vehicle-to-load bidirectional charging technology, which means you can use your car to charge another vehicle, or perhaps power your toaster when you are out camping.

So how does it feel to drive?

But enough with the literary and visual faffing about - how does the car feel like to drive? The instant 201bhp means it is spritely to operate. Comfort was very much prioritised over performance here, the car having suspension that competently soaks up whatever bumps the roads around Leng Kee could throw at it.

The steering is decently weighted for an economy-oriented vehicle, and expectedly, lacks the raw road feedback. The long and non-linear brake pedal travel and relative lack of regenerative braking will take some getting used to.

PHOTO: Motorist

These traits will deter you from ever thinking about driving the Atto 3 hard, which is sort of the point, as it has been designed as a practical family hauler with big range. Calm and measured driving will go a long way in ensuring you maximise the actual mileage of the vehicle.

In the short test drive we had in the Atto 3, we can confirm that interior space is good, and you’ll have no trouble finding a comfortable seating position regardless of the seat you are in.

One note-worthy thing is that as this is a ground-up EV, the rear seat base is raised up high enough from the floor pan that thigh support is excellent, and fatigue is unlikely on longer journeys.

More to come

Still, we didn’t spend enough time in the cabin to really work out if we liked it or not. The rotating touchscreen and muscle sinew-themed dashboard is best described as polarising, but most of the time we had behind the wheel was split between orchestrating the shoot, trying to work out all the switchgear and settings, and also road testing the car.

PHOTO: Motorist

A detailed mReview will follow suit, and living with the Atto 3 for a couple of days will paint a better picture on how the car is actually like to live with.

But based on the limited time we had with the car, things are really looking good if you are after a properly well thought out EV for not too much cash!

ALSO READ: Car buyer's guide: Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 4MATIC

This article was published in Motorist.