Published on February 14th, 2023 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
BYD Atto3 Extended Range Electric SUV Test Drive Review
The Atto3 surprised us with features and build associated with European car brands.
There are many Malaysians who want a lower priced EV right now and with an asking price of between RM100k to RM175k. This BYD Atto 3 seems to be their answer.
Meanwhile, this BYD Atto 3 uses the bigger of the Blade batteries, which is a 60.5kWh unit that provides a decent 480km driving range and it takes slightly less than one hour to recharge on a DC quick charger.
Priced at RM167,800, this is the extended range version of the electric SUV from China’s most prominent ‘battery’ manufacturer. Yes, BYD or ‘Build Your Dreams’ has been manufacturing batteries for a variety of segments since 1995 and it was only in 2008 that BYD released its first full electric vehicle, the BYD e6.
Now years later and with investment and design ideas from Michel Paganetti, BYD has released the Atto3 which is a mid-sized SUV that has a ‘footprint’ like the BMW X1 with the height like the Hyundai Kona, but it competes side by side with the all new Renault Zoe (which retails at RM163,000) and the Nissan Leaf (which is priced just below RM170k) right now.
Designed from scratch to be an electric vehicle, this Atto3 rides on the advanced e-platform 3.0 that will see other electric vehicles in the coming years.
This ATTO 3 measures 4,455mm in length, 1875mm in width, 1,615mm in height and has a wheelbase of 2,720mm. Its boot space is 440L (expandable to 1,340L) and the car weighs in at 2090kg.
Its electric motor is capable of 150kW (201hp) and 310Nm of torque. 0-100km/h takes just 7.3 seconds, and its driving range is reportedly around 400km for the RM149k Standard and RM167k for this 480km ‘Extended’ model we are test driving here.
The Atto3 brings never-before-released features and build quality at an asking price that is hard to ignore. Yes, it is priced very close to the cute and fun handling Great Wall electric car, the Ora Good Cat and has also similar electric driving range, but the Atto3 ticks a few more boxes once you get inside.
To start, it has a very ‘generic’ SUV look which can be easily mistaken for many other SUV’s in the segment. Then there are the cabin features that stand out from the crowd. Here is where BYD designers took a daring step forward to be completely different. The Ora Good Cat delivers a daring exterior (its like a 4-door VW Beetle) but the Atto3 delivers a daring interior.
From the dashboard design filled with curvaceous lines to the rotary air-con vents right to the stand out door handles. Then let’s not forget the race car-like front seats and the three guitar strings on each door. Yes, working guitar strings that deliver a few ‘notes’.
Every other media will emphasise the ‘powered rotating centre tablet’ and the ‘hello BYD’ chat box included in the centre tablet. We see it as a gimmick for the smartphone generation which will soon be forgotten just like ‘Hello Proton’!
With any mid-market electric car (below RM199k) the importance is battery charging time, driving range, safety features and of course long term running costs. This has been addressed very well with the Atto3 and its brand partner Sime Darby Motors.
So, open the doors and you get a premium look and feel with a two tone interior. A mix of high quality materials in a rather avantgarde offering. The ergonomics are good, everything is where you would expect and there are cup and bottle holders (two tier) that work.
The center console houses the BYD information touch screen panel with all necessary connectivity and functionality with really NOTHING lacking.
It’s easy and intuitive to use. No need to read a manual. It is a remarkably roomy vehicle, one of the first surprises after climbing into this Atto3’s cabin was the space. There is a lot of headroom, plenty of legroom and the rear seats offer good legroom for a 6-foot frame with space for three adults in comfort.
This Atto3 does not sit very high off the tarmac and instead sits at ‘the right height’ from the ground making it easy for the older generation to get in and out and women will have no modesty issues alighting from this Atto3 in a skirt lacking length. The rear seats can be folded to get more boot space.
Out on the road this Atto3 is a smooth operator. Get a chance to drive this Atto3 along some fast, sweeping corners and you will realise like we did that this BYD EV proved to be a sporty little vehicle, when in ‘sports mode’.
As a family orientated SUV, we found a nicely balanced vehicle that delivered in all areas. This BYD EV rides firmly on the road and has only low levels of body roll when cornering hard on uneven payment, which results in a satisfying experience when driven with determination.
Looks like BYD in Malaysia is actively targeting the premium Japanese compact SUV buyers that are looking for something different or just want an EV, but also at the same time hitting at the ‘starter’ premium SUV segment which is the Mercedes EQA and Volvo C40.
BYD designers have crafted a handsome-looking vehicle with solid proportions and smooth styling and it is the ‘image’ that will initially motivate people to take a closer look, and we think it is a mission accomplished for BYD.
BYD Atto 3 Specifications
Motor: Permanent magnet synchronous motor
Driven wheels: front
Maximum power: 201PS
Maximum torque: 310Nm
Maximum speed: 160km/h
Battery size: 60.5kWh
Electric range: 480 km
Maximum charging speed (DC): 88kW
Boot capacity: 440 litres