Since its launch in December 2022, the Atto 3 still manages to surpass expectations with its build quality, kit, cabin design and price point.
At RM167,800 (on-the-road without insurance) this all-electric mid-sized SUV from China-based carmaker BYD blends creativity with functionality while providing plenty of comfort and amenities.
Fluidic best sums up the Atto 3’s looks with its sheet-metal’s gentle curves suggesting lean musculature that’s not too pronounced for an elegant yet sporty nature – a duality that suggests it can “step” off the line in a well-postured manner or “sprint” right off the bat.
Like most EVs, the Atto 3 lacks a grille which its automatic LED headlights would flank, but having one would have influenced the size, positioning and shape.
Instead, the BYD logo with a satin aluminium effect gets such duties while hiding an LED light bar beneath itself which unifies the upwards-angled daytime runners of the headlights to provide some added character.
Below all of those are the gaping air intakes that are there purely for aesthetic purposes to provide a sporty notion.
While the Atto 3’s flanks show off much of its “musculature” the use of exposed black plastic that outlines its lower edges provides that touch of ruggedness while being accompanied by silver satinated surfaces.
The scale-effect plastic section on the C-pillar adds sophistication to its already unique disposition.
At the rear, it’s a similar effect to the front, only now things have turned upside-down and the LED light bar is a long red one instead of white - all sitting high just above its shoulder line.
A “Build Your Dreams” tagline sits prominently above the rear light bar.
In case you’re wondering, access to the powered tailgate’s electric latch is located in the centre just above the number plate.
The cabin exudes plenty of youth and modernity that screams of an “out-of-the-box” design.
Here, it simply suggests anything but convention from its rotating door latches that integrate the tweeters of its eight-speaker sound system into them and cables are used to help secure items placed in its door stowage compartments.
The ambient lighting brings to life the Atto 3’s flowing wave-like design of the dashboard, as it pulses and reacts to music.
With the faux-leather upholstery, it’s soft-ish to the touch and seems durable enough, especially for the sporty one-piece designed front seats.
Although the overall design of the dashboard may look “busy” the climate control’s vents are able to blow air straight up towards the head.
The seats provide plenty of thigh support and there’s a generous amount of bolster for the waist to help keep front occupants from flailing side-to-side during spirited drives.
The gear shifter is the most unique of all EVs, or even four-wheeled vehicles to date, by taking on a commercial aircraft’s throttle control.
Though it may lack a palm rest, it gets overlooked thanks to its highly ergonomic feel and natural palm placement.
The large panoramic sunroof, 12.8-inch rotating touchscreen and 5.0-inch digital instrument cluster provide that inherent sense of being technologically advanced.
The multi-function steering wheel feels properly girthy with all vital controls within the thumb’s reach for rotating the huge touchscreen, managing audio levels and adjusting the dynamic cruise control functionality, among others.
Although there’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, it also provides owners with an inbuilt satellite navigation system and when engaged it’ll provide reminders and prompts that include to slow down when in areas that are near schools as well as ones that have high rates of accidents.
Out on the roads, the Atto 3 provides plenty of comfort and safety.
The gear selector makes the experience more flight than drive and the suspension is obviously comfort- skewed to soak up much of the road’s imperfections.
Although noise, vibration and harness are kept on the down-low, wind noise is apparent from the external mirrors from about 80kph onwards.
The Atto 3 will encounter some pitching and body roll during high-speed cornering but weave through traffic easily thanks to its sharp and responsive steering.
Smooth take-offs are always guaranteed and planting the throttle will reveal a wild side.
Most audio warnings are kept to a soft tone, including the musical tune of the turn signals which can be swapped back to a more conventional tap.
Barely audible tunes and tones may speckle the interior to tell its driver that they’re too close to the edge of a lane among others, but they remain unintrusive to the senses.
Unless there’s imminent danger, a loud shriek will fill the cabin especially if it senses the driver has ventured too quickly and too close to the vehicle ahead for instance.
For its lane departure warning, three choices are available – an audible tone, a jab on the steering wheel or both.
There isn’t an option to dial these out entirely which is a common trait among China-made vehicles so far.
Sport mode will allow the Atto 3’s output 203hp and 310Nm of torque to quickly drain the battery.
With a decent amount of bite from the brakes, it helped provide a confidence-inspiring drive only to be limited by the budget-oriented Atlas tyres that aren’t as communicative nor stiff to really allow the Atto 3’s handling prowess to shine through.
Starting with a 98% charge of the battery and an indicative range of 474km, it turned out to be more of a 317km experience with 18% battery left (with the regenerative system finally set to high from 27%).
Charging up its 60.48kWh battery with an AC charger will take more than 11 hours to complete with an even longer wait with a three-pin plug portable charger.
As good as the Atto 3 might seem up till now, the seats do wonders to ruin a person’s posture.
As plush and appealing in terms of look and feel, the front seats will force occupants to slouch due to the position of the headrests.
While side bolsters are designed to keep front occupants tucked in, wider individuals might experience a tight feel.
As modern and tech-infused as the interior may be with access to Type-C and USB-A ports, the experience is unfortunately marred by the diminutive 5.0-inch instrument cluster.
Additionally, the doors’ stowage compartments, while able to accommodate bottles of varying sizes, are hardly practical to stow other items for the fear that they might fall out.
Aside from some nigglings, the range-topping Atto 3 is, by far, still one of the most complete product offerings to be had for its price point.
Although it is currently still in CBU form straight out of China, the build has impressed and its offerings in terms of kit are highly valued.
The Atto 3 also accords owners with a comfortable everyday cruiser equipped with a plethora of amenities that combines comfort, convenience, practicality and safety into one capable product.
BYD Atto 3 Extended Range
Electric Motor: Permanent Magnet Synchronous
Maximum power: 201hp
Maximum torque: 310Nm
Battery: 60.48kWh Lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) Blade
Range: 480km (NEDC)
Brakes: Front ventilated discs; rear solid disc
Suspension: Front MacPherson struts; rear multi-link
Kerb weight: 1,750kg
Features: Seven airbags, anti-lock braking system, electronic stability programme, traction control, electronic brakeforce distribution, hill descent control, electric parking brake system, tyre pressure monitoring system, 360-degree camera, auto-hold, adaptive cruise control with stop-go functionality, front collision warning and automatic emergency braking system, keyless-entry with push-start button, portable card key, one-touch power windows with anti-pinch, automatic dual-zone climate controls, CN95 air filter, PM 2.5 air filter full-colour 5.0-inch
digital instrument cluster, USB Type-C and USB-A ports (front and rear), automatic adaptive LED headlights, LED daytime running lights with integrated dynamic turn signals, LED rear light cluster with dynamic turn signals, three-pin charging cable, Vehicle to Load power supply function, flat-bottom multi-function steering wheel,six-way powered driver’s seat, four-way powered front passenger seat, wireless charger, dual-zone automatic climate controls, six-speaker sound system with 12.8-inch rotatable (panoramic or portrait) colour touchscreen, Bluetooth connectivity, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, English voice assistant, satellite navigation and music streaming, 18-inch wheels with 215/55 series tyres and tyre-repair kit.
Price: RM167,800 (on-the-road without insurance)
Warranty: Six-year or 150,000km, eight-year or 160,000km battery warranty and eight-year or 150,000km warranty for electric motor, controller, DC assembly and electric control assembly