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        BYD Atto 3 First Drive Review

        Bilal Ahmed Firfiray

        Bilal Ahmed Firfiray

        Why would I buy it?

        • It’s a complete package
        • Loads of features, high on safety
        • Battery range and management system

        Why would I avoid it?

        • Isn’t as engaging to drive
        • Limited sales network

        Engine and Performance

        BYD Atto 3 Engine Shot

        Most electric vehicles today use a lithium-ion battery pack. But BYD uses a segment-first Lithium Iron Phosphate battery pack with unique Blade-like packaging. Unlike lithium-ion cells, these batteries are more affordable, less toxic, and have a longer life cycle. BYD says this battery fares better in a nail penetration test as compared to lithium-ion battery packs, making it safer if involved in an accident. In an extreme example, a test battery was functional even after being driven over by a truck! In the real world, this means that the owners of the BYD Atto 3 should have lesser range anxiety and better peace of mind. 

        BYD Atto 3 Left Front Three Quarter

        Even the motor design on this BYD car is unique. It uses an eight-in-one layout where all the major electrical components are packed into one smaller unit. This saves space while also allowing for better weight management. There’s also a dedicated heat management system which reduces the effect of ambient temperatures on the battery performance, offering consistent range figures irrespective of the climate.

        BYD Atto 3 Right Rear Three Quarter

        The Atto 3 has been designed from the ground up as an EV, and it shows. It’s as convenient to drive as any other electric car. There are three drive modes – Eco, Normal, and Sport. In the Eco mode, the throttle feels slightly heavier yet the response is subdued, while in the Normal, it feels slightly livelier. But the Sport mode is the place to be. The sharper throttle response means the Atto 3 gathers speed in a very linear manner. It’s not neck-snapping quick, but it’s fast enough to keep up with anything on the road, electric or otherwise. 

        BYD Atto 3 Right Front Three Quarter

        Apart from these three, BYD has also provided a Snow mode. It controls the throttle response to prevent slip, but we’ll have to check some other day how well it works. This being an EV, there’s also brake energy regeneration, and two levels of it, Standard and High. You can barely feel it working in the former, while some of it is felt in the latter. But there’s no ‘one pedal’ drive here.

        BYD Atto 3 Left Side View

        Sizes 

        With the 60.4kWh battery pack, the claimed ARAI-tested range of the Atto 3 is 521 kilometres. BYD says that when charged using an 80kW DC setup, a depleted battery can be charged to 80 per cent in less than an hour! The Atto 3's battery supports fast charging of up 120kW, theoretically reducing the wait time further. Then, it also gets the vehicle-to-load function (VOLT), which means the Atto 3 becomes a versatile tool too, with the ability to power appliances for a small picnic or double up as a generator for power tools.

        Ride and Handling

        BYD Atto 3 Right Side View

        Coming to the suspension hardware, the Atto 3 uses the conventional MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link setup at the back. But it has a good level of, such that this BYD SUV feels quite European in the way it rides. The sharp creases and bumps are absorbed without a thud and even the uneven patches are taken astride with good composure. Although you can hear the 215/55 R18 tyres' road noise inside the cabin, that can be resolved with better and grippier tyres. Otherwise, under hard acceleration, the tyres struggle to keep a grip, thus inadvertently making your arms wrestle with the steering. While we are at it, the steering goes less than two and a half turns lock-to-lock. It’s also well-weighted and feels direct without any lag. Moreover, there’s also a gimmicky ‘steering mode’ in the infotainment system that slightly alters the weight of the steering, nothing more. Otherwise, the Atto 3 doesn’t give many reasons to complain with respect to ride and handling. 

        Exterior

        BYD Atto 3 Right Front Three Quarter

        In the metal, the Atto 3 appears to be a good-looking crossover, thanks to a smart design without any tacky elements. It does qualify as a mid-size crossover considering its size, but on paper, the Atto 3 is longer and wider when compared to the MG ZS EV, the Jeep Compass, and the Hyundai Creta. It might not have the street presence of, say, the Tata Harrier or the likes, but the unique styling of this BYD car in India does guarantee a second glance. And you get this SUV in four colour options – red, grey, white, and blue. 

        BYD Atto 3 Right Rear Three Quarter

        Comfort, Convenience, and Features

        BYD Atto 3 Dashboard

        Now, on the interiors of the Atto 3, the first thing that caught our attention is the unusual and quirky design layout. Each element here feels like it's placed there deliberately to tell a story. The flow of the dashboard, for instance, the design of the air vents, how the door handles resemble a spanner, those guitar-like strings down on the door pads, or even the door handle integrated over the speakers, all make the cabin of the Atto 3 feel special. 

        BYD Atto 3 Front Row Seats

        But that’s not all, you’d find this quirky design quite functional too. The lever to open the door has a grippy surface for easy operation. The door pads have soft-touch surfaces throughout along with the dashboard. Even the large armrest for the driver has these sections which might look weird at first but have the same texture as the air cushions used in packaging, and are actually comfortable. The front seats do not get adjustable headrests but are cosy, similar to the bucket seats you find in performance cars. These also get six-way electric adjustments for both driver and passenger. Since there’s no physical gear linkage, the floating armrest has space for storage below it. You also have USB ports placed down there. Moreover, on the centre console, the jet-like gear-lever would surely be a great conversation starter. 

        BYD Atto 3 Infotainment System

        Lastly, we come to the party piece of the Atto 3’s cabin – the rotating 12.8-inch screen which can go to landscape or portrait position at the touch of a button. It has a simple interface with good touch response, and we didn’t find any glitches or bugs in the limited time we used it. However, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are set to be introduced next year and weren’t available on our test cars. 

        BYD Atto 3 Second Row Seats

        Talking about the overall ergonomics, the second row is easy to get in and out of. The seat height is great, and the best part is the seat base length. It is long and flat and offers good under-thigh support. Now, since the floor is high owing to the battery placed underneath, taller passengers would sit in a slightly uncomfortable knees-up position. That said, even the backrest has a comfortable recline angle and provides good support all the way up. Room for three is possible, though the middle passenger might feel slightly uneasy with the hard seat base and reduced height. Then, there is enough shoulder room to seat three adults abreast as well. 

        BYD Atto 3 Bootspace

        Some tiny details we like on the interior of the BYD Atto 3 include the sunroof, which extends almost through the whole length of the roof. This amplifies the sense of space and grandness. Not to mention, the seats’ back pockets are compartmentalised to easily store phones, wallets, paperwork, and some other knick-knacks. Soft-touch materials are not just limited to the front doors of Atto 3, and one-touch up/down powered windows are available for the rear passengers too. 

        Conclusion

        BYD Atto 3 Right Front Three Quarter

        A price tag of Rs 36 lakh might seem a lot for an electric crossover. But the Atto 3 is a lot of car for its price. It offers a bigger battery pack than the competition, with a higher claimed range and better performance too. It also promises peace of mind with a focus on safety, including ADAS functions and scoring a five-star rating in the Euro-NCAP crash tests. The Atto 3 has a lot going for it. It is one of those offerings that will force the competition to up their game. BYD has already received 1,500 bookings for the Atto 3 SUV. Now, this indeed seems like the first tiny step of a million-mile journey.

        BYD Atto 3 Right Rear Three Quarter

        Pictures by Kapil Angane

        BYD Atto 3
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