On the Road: The new BYD Atto3 Design
On the Road: The new BYD Atto3 Design

The latest EV from China hits a high note with Ian Lamming

BUILD Your Dreams, says the badge on the back, so I will.

It was always my dream to play guitar in a rock band and the nearest I ever came was on a visit to the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle.

Lead guitar thrown around my neck, my partner on keyboards, a weatherworn roadie on the sound decks. Joan Jett backing track strikes up and the curtain rises on a virtual audience packing a projected auditorium. I’m just about to bang out the first chords of I Love Rock ’N Roll when it hits me between the eyes, I can’t actually play guitar.

The roadie shrugs and says “no worries man, just hit the strings, I’ll sort out the tune”. That was the one time appearance of the ‘Dunnos’ and I’ve got the certificate to prove it.

Ironically, I can play one tune on the guitar learnt and practised over many a teenage party with a friend’s electric. Deep Purple’s Smoke on the Water was the head-banging ditty and strangely enough that’s exactly the tune you can play on BYD’s Atto3 door pockets.

Where you normally stash your automotive detritus in the doors has been fashioned into a ‘guitar’, with three strings on which you can pluck out G, B flat, C. Don’t fret each of the four doors has one so you can play along together to while away the hours.

It’s a bit bonkers but why not and it makes the BYD Atto3 even more amiable.

While the debate continues as to whether EVs are the future or even a good thing it is all BYD makes and the Atto3 is an easy to live with medium sized SUV.

The interior is quirky and well made, with tactile materials and a host of interesting shapes to the trim. The dash is dominated by a large touchscreen which you can have horizontal or vertical. It looks after most of the functions, though there are some buttons on the transmission tunnel. It is all very easy to use. Driver gets small virtual clocks, almost motorbike-like in their presentation.

The cabin is light and spacious, very pleasant indeed, and comfortable too. The infotainment system is excellent with your sounds coming through loud and clear – as long as you don’t spoil it by strumming along on the doors.

In town Atto3 is energetic and agile. It’s first away from the lights thanks to 310Nm of instant torque. On the motorway it is impressive too as it doesn’t chomp away at the range at 70mph like some EVs do.

There are four driving modes, sport, normal, economy and snow, but I seldom move out of economy which offers plenty of performance while protecting the 260 mile range.

It’s at its best on country roads where the handling is excellent. The whole body is stuck to the floorpan-cum-battery making the body nice and rigid and very stable through the bends. The steering is light but has bags of feel and the suspension is well controlled offering high levels of grip. Dial in the instant power and it’s a fun car to take cross country and the regenerative braking compensates for the heavier use of the throttle by pushing power back into the battery.

If you hadn’t heard of BYD before you can’t fail to miss them now as they have been all over the European football championships.

Atto3, like the rest of the three model range, is extremely good and the best thing is that unlike many EVs it is affordable.

If you fancy going electric then it will certainly strike a chord.

Fact File

BYD Atto3 Design

Engine: 60.48 kWh electric

Power: 204PS

0-60mph: 7.3 secs

Top speed: 99mph

Range: 260 miles

Transmission: automatic

CO2 g/km: 0

Price: £39,695.00