I must admit to being somewhat nonplussed about the BYD ATTO 3 prior to attending its recent NZ launch. After all, do we really need another bland, BEV SUV with questionable build quality and minimal EV only range – but boy was I incorrect. Not only does the brand come with a cool backstory and revolutionary ‘blade’ battery, but it has a dragon face exterior design and an interior that makes any gym goer feel well at home – Of course I wanted a follow up drive and BYD NZ were happy to oblige.
As a brief recap, as a brand, BYD (Build Your Dreams) is the vision of (a once orphan, now billionaire), Chinese businessman Wang Chuanfu. Chuanfu has created an empire that among other things, manufactures vehicles at a rate of 2 million a year and developed a battery that is incredibly powerful and efficient, AND won’t explode if pierced by a nail! (We still recommend you try to avoid doing that).
From afar, the ATTO 3 is ‘similar’ in shape to many smaller SUVs, however, step a little closer and you get a better perspective of its ‘dragon face’ and well-sculpted surfaces. As previously mentioned, the interior is a homage to the more athletic among us, with dumbbell air vents and treadmill storage tops, added to this is its polarising ‘skin, bone and sinew’ features and textures – simply put, there’s a lot to talk about, but ‘bland’ it ain’t.
With the recap out of the way, let’s get to the review. My family dynamic is small, just a wife and one young teen boy, which means that overall, my demand for vehicle cabin space is minimal too. However, often with small-sized SUVs, those that travel in the front two seats (which offer ‘gamer’ comfort and support), get pampered, while those in the rear are left to assume yoga positions. Not so with the ATTO 3, yes the front two seats are the cream, but with a flat floor, high roofline and a sporty bench, it seats two in the rear well, and three if not travelling from Auckland to Wellington. A small footnote here, should those in the front be wearing monsoon-weather padded sports jackets, then they will be rubbing shoulders.
The landscape/portrait infotainment screen is both another design wow and a touch of genius. For it will mimic your smartphone in general presentation and appeal, or offer simple/extra swipe access to the myriad of apps and functions – including 360-degree camera angles (that even show you in motion), a respectable stereo and streaming apps. Its flip motion also delights my son and I in equal proportions.
Despite the advanced technology and futuristic cabin design, the ATTO 3 is natural in the way it allows the driver (even a first timer in the dark) to hop in and get going. Its tilt and telescopic steering wheel allows for driving comfort and aside from the start/stop button being behind the gear stick and the park button being just above it, everything is where it should be. So push start, engage drive and off you go.
Range wise, the ATTO 3 boasts 420km. I picked it up with 463km forecasted and even with frequent testing of its acceleration prowess (around 7-8 seconds 0-100km/h) and zero consideration for the BEV’s efficiency, I was still sitting at 315km range at 65% capacity. As it turns out, this press vehicle displayed a cumulative average electricity consumption of 16.6kWh/100km over 1040km, 40.3h driving time at 25km/h average speed – I’ll let you work out the numbers.
Around town the ATTO 3 goes about its business well, turning heads as it goes, it really does look different. Buttons on the centre console change the SUV’s driving dynamics (Eco, Normal and Sport) and two stages of regen braking. Its size makes it city-friendly and the various camera angles ensure you can navigate the tightest of areas with ease.
On the open road, aids such as adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist are easy to engage, offering ‘aid’ rather than aggressive control. Cornering at ‘recommended speeds’ keeps the ATTO 3 unstressed, however, whereas the softer suspension is great around the town, it becomes a bit wallowy when pushed.
Another cool feature (for which there are many) of the ATTO 3 is its AC/filtration system, the infotainment screen keeps you updated on the air pollutant numbers both inside and outside, and you can purify the cabin at the touch of a button – making it ideal hangout for hayfever sufferers.
Quite frankly the BYD ATTO 3 does everything you want in an EV and more. Yes its design and presentation will be a subject of some debate but it’s by no means boring. The range is great, as is the efficiency, the fit and finishing is up there too – this is one BEV with ATTO-Tude.