The BYD Atto 3 is a different option for those in search of a high-value compact family EV Crossover. Jonathan Crouch takes a look.

Ten Second Review

The BYD Atto 3 enters the crowded market for compact family-sized Crossover EVs, though this fresh Chinese contender is a little less compact than its mass-market rivals - and in some ways, a little cleverer too. It's the alternative you probably won't have considered, but possibly should.


So. Yet another Chinese-branded small EV. Following, MG and GWM Ora, we now have BYD. Which launches on the UK market with this car, the Atto 3. The brand letters stand for 'Build Your Dreams' and the company is actually a huge global player, in 2022 selling nearly 1.9 million EVs and Plug-in Hybrids. Apart from a few e6 MPV electric taxis though, the Atto 3 is the first BYD product we've seen here, its name derived from the word 'attosecond' (which apparently is one quintillionth of a second). They already love this car in China, but there it's called the Yuan Plus.

This of course is just the start of BYD's product offensive, overseen by UK dealer network that'll grow from around 30 to about 100 outlets by 2025. By then, we may also be seeing this Shenzhen-based company's Yangwang premium EV brand, which will bring us luxury sports cars and SUVs. But let's start with a look at this Atto 3.

Driving Experience

The performance on offer here won't be Beyond Your Dreams, unless those dreams happen to be somewhat modest. Nor, more significantly, will the 261 mile range figure you'll get from the 60.5kWh battery, despite said battery's uniquely-dense 'Blade'-style construction. It powers a single 201bhp electric motor mounted on the front axle (rather than on the rear one, as would it would be from a rival Volkswagen, Skoda or CUPRA model in this class).

The Atto 3 doesn't pointlessly hurl itself at the horizon from the get-go, but performance is pleasantly eager, the 7.3 second 0-62mph time about a second faster than comparable Kia Niro EV or Skoda Enyaq iV 60 models. Not that this should suggest handling dynamics tailored for those who like their driving. On the contrary, as you might expect, the multi-link rear suspension with its soft springs has been set up here to prioritise comfort, as most likely owners will want. Expect impressive refinement too. And the usual EV-typical 99mph top speed.

Design and Build

At a glance, for several reasons, you might be left a little unsure of what this Atto 3 model is. You might also be a touch undecided in terms of this Chinese model's size, where the positioning is little large for models in the compact hatch Kia Niro EV / Volkswagen ID.3 electric segment. And a little small if you're looking at something in the sector just above, like a Volkswagen ID.4 or a Hyundai IONIQ 5. Dimensionally then, the Atto 3 straddles two sectors, a bit like the Skoda Enyaq iV, one of its closest rivals. The Crossover styling is a touch blander than one of those, but smart - in a conservative kind of way.

It's a lot more memorable inside, where there's a clear design layout with some unexpectedly quirky touches. The main feature of note is the central 'Electric rotary touchscreen', which will be either 12.8-inches or an enormous 15.6-inches in size, depending on the trim level you've chosen. Strangely, it can rotate to display in either landscape or portrait formats via a push of a provided steering wheel button (BYD thinks it's safer to use the landscape screen for media functions and the portrait screen for the sat nav). You get a clearly laid-out 5-inch digital instrument screen. Curious touches include air vents like old CD racks, door bins made of cords strung like guitar strings, interior door handles fixed on the speakers and, weirdly, no auto wiper function.

Market and Model

Interestingly for an unknown brand, BYD isn't looking to substantially undercut its main competitors on price. Atto 3 pricing starts at around £36,500 for the base-spec 'Active' variant. You'll need around £37,000 for mid-range 'Comfort'-spec; and about £39,000 for top 'Design' trim. As we told you in our 'Driving' section, all versions are based around the same powertrain combination of a 60.5kWh battery and 201bhp motor. You order online, but all purchases go through the brand's UK dealer network, currently 30-strong.

Inside, even with base active spec, there's vegan leather upholstery, with power adjustment and heating for the front seats. Plus multi-colour ambient lighting, a wireless charging mat and a 5-inch TFT LCD instrument panel. Media connectivity is taken care of by a 12.8-inch 'Electric rotary touchscreen', with voice control, an 8-speaker DAB audio system, 4G Internet access and the company's 'BYD DiLink' suite of media systems. There's also an 8-year 'Cloud service' that gives you 1.5Gb of data per month for free for the first two years. And you get a useful 'Vehicle-to-Load' function so that you can charge things like lap tops and power tools from the vehicle.

Cost of Ownership

The battery used here is of the unique-to-BYD lithium-ion-phosphate 'Blade' variety, which incorporates cells mounted in the strips directly to the pack. Which, the Chinese maker says, allows for a much higher cell density than a conventional battery could offer. So a much higher driving range then? Afraid not. The 261 mile range is reasonably class-competitive.

The entry model only comes with a feeble 7kW on-board charger: from mid-spec 'Comfort' trim upwards, a proper 11kW charger unit comes included. Which, when connected to a public 150kW DC charger allows the Atto 3 to be charged to a modest maximum of 88kW. At that speed, a 30-80% boost takes 29 minutes. An AC charge from a home 7kW single-phase wallbox takes 9 hours and 42 minutes from empty to full. If you've avoided base trim and can use an 11kW 3-phase charger, that figure falls to six and a half hours.


So yet another option to add to your list if you're seeking a compact but family-shaped Crossover-style EV. We're surprised that BYD hasn't priced the Atto 3 a touch lower to give customers more reason to switch from an established brand. But there's no doubt that you get an awful lot for what you're paying here, including a greater slice of interior tech than you might expect at this price point. It's well worth a look.


CAR: BYD Atto 3

PRICES: £36,490-£38,990



PERFORMANCE: 0-62mph 7.3s / top speed 99mph


BOOT CAPACITY: [litres] 440-litres

WILL IYT FIT IN YOUR GARAGE?: Length/Width/Height 4455/1875/1615 mm