Five-Star EuroNCAP safety ratingFeature-rich cabinComfortable driveLimited headroom and under-thigh supportExpensive
The BYD Atto 3 is a five-seater electric SUV positioned above the E6 MPV in BYD Auto’s India line-up. This new electric SUV might be new to the Indian market but is a successful global model. It’s based on the brand’s ‘Dragon Face 3.0’ design philosophy which lends the vehicle attractive styling. The tastefully done elements comprise a diffused chrome grille with sleek LED headlamps, funky alloys, brushed silver and aluminium accents, and wrap-around LED tail lamps with a light bar. It’s a mid-sized SUV with a compact footprint and proportions. Yet, it stands out for its nice styling outside as well as inside.
Now, whether you like the interior design or not, you will have to give it to BYD for experimenting and bringing in an oddball design. It combines the concept of gym and music. Hence, you see muscular elements like the white curvy engravement on the dashboard and dumb-bell-inspired ac vents. Then, the guitar-like strings on the door can actually be plucked to produce a rhythm. These also help in holding the bottle or the stuff kept in the door pad in place. The wacky design also means storage places are a bit weird but in plenty. For example, the centre armrest has a narrow opening but deep stowage. Similarly, the lower half of the front central tunnel has a storage place but it’s not easy to access. The quality of materials is respectable with smooth edges, soft materials, and a combination of white-black-blue leather.
The visibility at the front is good, but the rear is hampered due to a slim windscreen. Still, the high-resolution 360-degree camera helps, with wide angles covering even the blind spots while reversing. The headrest-integrated seats, too, look and feel nice, and are snug. Then, the second row has sufficient knee-room with a flat floor but is tight in terms of headroom. Three occupants can sit abreast here but the rear middle backrest feels a little upright. Besides, there’s no reclining option at all. Thankfully, the huge panoramic sunroof adds to the sense of space and comes with an electric slide and anti-pinch feature. Moreover, the boot space gets some adjustments to set a flat area with the seats folded. At 440 litres, it’s decent, but BYD missed an opportunity to provide a frunk (front storage under the hood) here.
Feature-wise, the lack of ventilated seats, and Android Auto had me puzzled, but let’s hope it’s added in the production lot coming next year. Otherwise, the carmaker has ensured that the Atto 3 gets a feature-packed cabin. The biggest highlight is the rotating 12.8-inch touchscreen. BYD has built the screen themselves and it is seamless to operate with all controls on-board. All operations are smooth and the audio system sounds nice too. Conversely, the digital instrument cluster is a little small for my liking. A wider one would have added some separation and made the font a little bigger for better legibility.
Other standard features include front electric seat adjustment, an eight-speaker audio system, voice control, mobile phone wireless charging, a one-touch electric control tailgate, LED lighting, multi-colour gradient ambient lighting that responds to music rhythm, PM 2.5 air filter, CN95 air filter, and more. Most interestingly, the Atto 3 features the L2 Advanced Driving Assistance System (ADAS). Apart from BYD Di-pilot, other noteworthy features include seven airbags, a 360-degree holographic transparent imaging system, an NFC card key, a puncture kit, and even a Vehicle to Load (VTOL) mobile power station.
Moreover, BYD offers a 7kW home charger and its installation service, in addition to a 3kW portable charging box. Then, customers get a three-year free 4G data subscription, six-year roadside assistance, and six free maintenance services. Not to mention, Atto 3 comes with a warranty of eight years or 1.5 lakh kilometres for the traction battery, motor, and controller. This is in addition to the six years or 1.5 lakh kilometres warranty for the vehicle. Warranty details of other components are covered as well.
Powered by a 60.48kWh battery pack paired with an electric motor mounted on the front axle, the Atto 3 offers a range of 521km (ARAI-claimed). It makes 201bhp and 310Nm of torque, which is quite sufficient to help get this heavy car going. In fact, it sprints from 0-100kmph in just 7.3 seconds. And as with other EVs, it’s very silent and only the tyre noise filters into the cabin at triple-digit speeds. The three drive modes Eco, Normal, and Sport have subtle differences in terms of throttle response, with the Sport having the most in terms of immediacy. There’s an additional Snow mode that restricts the throttle response, which is otherwise instant. The regeneration though, whether in standard or high, isn’t substantial to stop the car or provide one pedal drive.
The BYD Atto 3 doesn’t feel unusual when compared to any ICE car in terms of driving. Though it was born as an EV on the e-Platform 3.0, it has easy-to-drive properties with seamless e-transmission and clutch-less gearshifts adding to the convenience. The ADAS might feel intrusive and can be switched off, but it’s quite easy to adapt to. The Blade battery as against Li-ion batteries is said to have better features and be ultra-safe, adding to the peace of mind of owners. It supports fast charging with 0-80 per cent in just 50 minutes. Even in terms of reliability, BYD has backed up the Blade battery with a quality to boast — it has passed the nail penetration test, which is said to be a rigorous test for batteries. In fact, it wasn’t damaged or didn’t deform, leak, or emit smoke after a 46-tonne truck was driven over it. Additionally, it can be used to run large appliances like a power bank with an output of up to 3.3kW.
Moreover, the Atto 3’s steering is light and quick with two-and-a-half turns lock-to-lock. It also has comfort and sport modes, which helped in adding a little heft. Then, on the straight roads Chennai ECR we witnessed the car’s fantastic straight-line stability. Some bad patches showed how nicely the suspension cushions the undulations keeping the occupants comfortable. Even the speed breakers were cleared thanks to the 18-inch tyres, even though the ground clearance is 175mm. These initial SKD units of the Atto 3 ride on Atlas Batman tyres but will be switched to another manufacturer upon local assembly. And lest we forget, the brake pedal can be regulated to sport to add a quicker bite as against the standard comfort mode, which is still adequate to stop this almost two-tonne vehicle.
At an ex-showroom price of Rs 33.99 lakh, the BYD Atto 3 comes across as an expensive option. Most other EVs in this segment, like the MG ZS and Hyundai Kona are priced lower. Though this BYD EV does not lack in features, missing out on ventilated and cooled seats at this price point and for a climate like ours is a glaring shortcoming. Then, quirky styling, and limited showrooms, service centres, and market penetration as against more established brands automatically make it lose brownie points. However, the Atto 3 has various USPs and hence has even received a good response with 1,500 bookings since October. It does give you an upmarket feel with a feature-rich cabin boasting a 4+1 seating capacity. Then, the 500km range is almost equal to some of the ICE SUVs. Besides, BYD is planning to open 24 showrooms across 21 cities in India by the end of this year and aims to expand to at least 53 showrooms by the end of 2023. All of this together makes the BYD Atto 3 a promising option in the premium electric vehicle segment.
Pictures by Kapil Angane
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