BYD Atto 3 — Intro
This BYD Atto 3 review is about the export version of China’s BYD Yuan Plus. BYD is a Chinese conglomerate that started out as a battery maker. It diversified into carmaking, and when the EV revolution started, BYD was among the first to convert some of its fossil fuel vehicles into plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. Earlier in 2022, it stopped all production of non-plugin vehicles. For a good profile of the automaker, scroll to the bottom of José Pontes’ article “Top Selling Auto Brands & Auto Groups For EV Sales Globally.”
BYD has a typical “can do” mentality. When Covid-19 started in China, the government closed all factories. A factory could only restart when all of its workers had a fresh mask every day. There was one problem with the rule: there wasn’t enough production capacity anywhere to provide all workers with masks. Nobody could buy enough masks, not even for hospital workers. In the western world, this caused denial of the beneficiary effects of mask wearing.
The lack of masks did not stop BYD. It designed highly automated mask production lines, capable of producing tens of thousands of mask per day. Its machine shops produced those production lines, and within 5 days BYD produced enough masks for its 250,000 workers to go back to work. BYD then sold dozens (or more) production lines to other companies that wanted to reopen their factories as soon as possible.
Birth of the BEV
The Yuan model range of subcompact cars is named after the Chinese Yuan imperial dynasty founded by Kublai Khan. The first models were based on the DM (Dual Mode) platform developed for BYD hybrids.
The Yuan Plus was the first car designed using the new e-Platform 3.0. It is BYD’s pure BEV platform. It uses cell-to-body battery technology and LFP blade batteries. These are probably the safest EV batteries in the industry. The platform is able to use 800V technology, but the Atto 3 uses only the 400V architecture.
In 2017, BYD hired Wolfgang Egger. He was the former head of design at Alfa Romeo and Audi, where he made some revolutionary cars. He designed the Atto 3. The outside is nice, but the interior is something special. The speakers with ambient lighting in the door handles. The openings for the airco that look like a set of small wheels. The guitar strings securing the contents of the door pockets. It is worth a visit to a dealer to look it over.
- Battery — 60 kWh, with about 199 miles of range.
- Motor — 150 kW and 310 Nm, with front-wheel drive.
- Charging — 90 kW DC and 7 kW AC.
- Euro NCAP — ***** (5 stars)
- Length * Width * Height — 175.4” * 73.4” * 63.6”
The 15.6” center screen can pivot 90°, making its route planning better in portrait mode. Landscape is better for infotainment, configuration, and games.
A huge sunroof increases the feeling of spaciousness.
The heat pump increases efficiency in keeping both cabin and battery at optimal temp. The heated seats are great in this time of year. The 360° camera can be very helpful. For the dozens other big and small design touches, visit the dealer’s Atto 3 page.
Getting in the car was a nice surprise. Many BEVs have sporty seats with high side support. It makes getting in and out difficult and sometimes even painful. Not so with this car. The seat is nearly flat, giving not much support in corners when driving sporty, but a pleasure for older people with weaker and wider bodies.
The accelerator kick-down effect, famous from the Tesla launch mode, is trimmed down a bit. The full power is available, it just comes on a bit more gradually, something else I absolutely liked. Regenerative braking is okay, but there’s no one-pedal-driving.
What is there to say about driving an electric car that has not been said a thousand times before. It is so superior compared to any fossil fuel vehicle that a test drive to judge the driving characteristics is a waste of time, to be honest.
Comparing the different EVs on driving characteristics? With the low center of mass nicely in the center of the car and great suspension because of the bigger mass, while there are differences between BEVs, most people will hardly notice them.
There is enough power to easily overtake a slower driver on the highway. The front-wheel drive makes driving easy for those of us not trying to be race car drivers and is safer in bad/winter weather conditions. It also helps in navigating the small windy city roads of Europe. That is great for people like me. Real car journalists will complain about this.
Infotainment & Driving Assist
There is a good Atto 3 review from Australia on YouTube that covers the infotainment. Besides the normal car radio functions, there is Spotify. There are HERE maps for when you get lost. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available to give you the tools you are used to using on your smartphone.
There is blind spot detection, line keep assist, and rear cross traffic alert. The adaptive cruise control is great and works in stop-and-go traffic. I did not test the parking assist.
All these functions are kept up to date with over-the-air upgrades.
In daily urban, suburban, or rush-hour commuting, the quality is beyond what you need. But in Europe, getting groceries and the daily commute are often done with public transport or a bicycle (increasingly an electric one). The long haul is what is often more important. I can only say this car is made for it. The kids will love the guitar snares on the doors, the parents perhaps a bit less.
What is often an issue, even in vehicles like the Mercedes EQE, is the legroom and headroom for the backseat passengers. It is not an issue in this car. The trunk is big and easily accessible through a huge tailgate that opens and closes electrically. The double floor hides the emergency stuff, and in its high position, charging cables and tools do not clutter the trunk while groceries are easily put in and lifted out of the trunk.
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