The Atto 3 electric SUV marks BYD’s (Build Your Dreams) foray into the Indian passenger vehicle market, and at a price of Rs 33.9 lakh, ex-showroom, it weighs slightly on the expensive side. But before coming to any hasty conclusions, let us have a look at everything the vehicle has to offer.
The Atto 3 is built on BYD’s latest Born EV platform, the e-Platform 3.0, which means that it gets enough flexibility to accommodate a number of EV-specific characteristics. Let me put it this way, say you are handed down a really good suit from your older sibling, it may fit you, but would it have the best fit? I doubt so. But if you were to get one stitched specially for you, I’m sure it would fit just right. That is exactly the case with the BYD Atto 3. The e-Platform 3.0 further features shorter overhangs and a longer wheelbase, which in turn increases the passenger space and has various other technical advantages.
The exterior design of the Atto 3 is fairly mainstream and although elegant, comes across as somewhat bland. The rear does have a few elements like the raked rear windshield and the sharp LED taillights that give it a semblance of sportiness, and so do the sharp alloy wheel hubs. The Dragon Face 3.0 design language seems to be fairly toned down somehow, but would definitely not be considered a dealbreaker.
The interior of the BYD Atto 3 is totally the opposite, and this is where BYD seems to have gone all out. There are lots of elements like the dumbbell-style AC vents, treadmill-style central armrest and muscle-textured elements on the dash and door panels that hint at an active lifestyle theme. This is complemented by the musical-instrument-inspired strings on the door panel and the multi-coloured rhythmic interactive ambient lighting system. The highlight would be the 12.8-inch infotainment touchscreen display that can be rotated from a horizontal position to a vertical one, depending on your preference. And while all this is surely innovative, it could feel slightly distracting to the driver.
There’s plenty of storage space with two cupholders in the centre console, a large stowage space in the armrest and bottle holders in the doors. It also has small pockets at the back of the front seats too. The front seats are really comfortable, well-bolstered and electrically adjustable as well, although it does miss out on ventilated seats. There is a fairly spacious rear bench, but it can do with better under-thigh support. The rear passengers also get AC vents and USB/Type-C charging points to help keep things fairly comfortable.
The centre console also packs most of the functions that can be accessed with one touch. The aircraft-inspired gearshift lever, driving modes, regen modes, climate control, traction control and more, all have dedicated buttons here. For convenience’s sake, the new EV is equipped with an electric tailgate, a 360-degree camera with a dash camera, a wireless phone charger, front electric power seats, an almost 50-inch long panoramic sunroof and a voice command function. It also offers about 440 litres of boot space, and with 60:40 split seating, the rear bench can be folded to make way for about 1,340 litres of space.
The Atto 3 is powered by a 60.48 kWh battery pack, which has the brand’s ‘Blade Battery technology’. Unlike most battery packs available on EVs today, BYD’s unit has a unique arrangement of cells that is said to be more energy-efficient, dissipates heat better (thereby improving battery life) and is supposedly safer in case of a crash. The Blade Battery has also been put through the nail penetration test as well as an extreme strength test that saw a 46-tonne truck driving right over it. As there’s no oxygen released by the battery, chances for combustion are reduced drastically, which is why BYD claims it is the safest battery around.
Coming to the driving experience, it is available with three driving modes, namely Eco, Normal and Sport. It accelerates in a balanced manner because of the linear power delivery, and won’t instantly slam you back into the seat if you floor the accelerator. The Atto 3 does pick up speed decently and BYD claims that it can do zero to 100 kph in 7.3 seconds. It certainly feels fast although the top speed is limited to 160 kph, and the power figures do help you reach that figure quicker than you think. With the floorboard integrated battery, the centre of gravity is low and that makes for minimal body roll when you push the Atto 3 into a corner. This is complemented by the suspension set-up that is tuned towards comfort, allowing it to glide through most undulations, cushioning broken roads and ditches.
The brakes on the Atto 3 are more than capable of bringing it to a quick stop but could do with a little more bite. One thing that bothered us was that there seemed to be a slight twitching feedback on the steering wheel when the throttle was punched and also upon sudden braking. On a better note, we realised that there was no range anxiety at all, owing to the 60.48 kWh Blade battery pack. The car comes with a claimed range of 521 km (ARAI certified) or 480 km (NEDC) on a single charge and a charging time of 50 minutes with a DC fast charger. Customers though will get a 3.3 kW charger as standard with the vehicle. The battery, motor and controller all have an 8-year/1.5 lakh km warranty, with a 6-year/1.5 lakh km warranty on the vehicle itself.
In terms of safety, a big addition to the Atto 3 is the Level-2 autonomous driving assistance system (ADAS) termed DiPilot by BYD, and it brings features like Autonomous Emergency Braking, Adaptive Cruise Control, Blindspot Detection, Lane Departure Warning and more. Truth be told, the ADAS does feel slightly buggy and from what we’ve seen on our test runs, keeping the current conditions of Indian roads and traffic in mind, we would advise not to rely on it completely yet. The Atto 3 further gets 7 airbags, seatbelt pre-tensioners and ISOFIX anchor mounts for child seats on the rear bench as well as the front passenger seat. The car has been built using high-strength steel and has even received a 5-star safety rating in the Euro NCAP crash test results.
In conclusion, the Atto 3 makes sense to be on the shortlist of those luxury car owners who are looking for a premium secondary car or EV with its price tag. It can also be a fun car to drive within the city as a daily driver, as long as one takes the time to understand and get used to the ADAS system. At present, the Atto 3 goes up against the Hyundai Kona Electric and the MG ZS EV and does come across as a vastly more expensive offering. There’s no denying that the Atto 3 is a well-built option and it is just the right size with an impressive battery and range on offer. It will be very interesting to see what sort of response it garners from the common customer.
AUTODATABYD Atto 3
Charging time (80 kW DC):
521 km (ARAI)/480 km (NEDC)
50 minutes (0-80 per cent)
F/R: 215/55 R18
Rs 33.9 lakh (ex-showroom, India)