Home / Reviews / First Drive / BYD Atto – Building on a Legacy


The electric SUV appears to be a luxurious and useful alternative to fossil fuel-powered automobiles.

Story: Kurt Morris
Photography: Apurva Ambep

Chinese conglomerate BYD might be a new brand-name for us in India but they began life as a battery manufacturer. They expanded into the automobile industry and, when the EV revolution began, BYD were one of the pioneers in converting some of their conventional vehicles to plug-in hybrid electric models. BYD Company Limited (or simply BYD) is a Chinese multinational automobile manufacturer based in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province. It was founded in 1995 as a battery manufacturer but has since expanded its business to include electric vehicles (EV), automobiles, buses, and other transport-related products. BYD is known for its EVs which have gained popularity in China and other markets around the world.

The company’s EVs are powered by its own iron-phosphate battery technology which, the firm claims, is more durable and longer-lasting than traditional lithium-ion batteries. BYD has also invested in solid-state battery technology research and development which has the potential to further improve the performance and range of its EVs. The company has partnerships with several major automakers, including Toyota and Daimler, and has established a strong presence in the Chinese and international automotive markets.

BYD has made significant strides in sustainability and green technology. In addition to EVs, the company has also developed a range of solar panels, energy storage systems, and other clean energy products.

Now let’s get straight into their latest offering here in India, the Atto 3. After unseating Tesla in the first half of 2022, BYD is now the biggest EV manufacturer in the world. The Chinese electric car manufacturer, supported by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, is now going after premium fossil fuel-powered automobiles with its electric SUV, the Atto 3, which costs Rs 33.99 lakh (ex-showroom).

Even though BYD is a newcomer to the Indian PV market, it has a strong enough global base to argue its case. But this isn’t BYD’s first vehicle for India. That was the e6 electric MPV that was introduced last year and is currently offered to commercial car buyers only, aimed at fleet operators. In this regard, the Atto 3 is a more popular high-end electric SUV targeted at individual or private car buyers.

The integrated light bar and the way the roof gradually curves in at the rear are the nicest aspects of the appearance. The enormous insignia that reads “Build your dreams” on the back may not appeal to everyone because it seems to be a motivational quote, but there’s no denying that the remainder of the car is attractive and premium-looking. Only the window surrounds and a small strip of chrome that runs beside the LED light strip connecting the tail-lamp clusters have been employed with restraint. With LED lighting all around, including LED light strips at the front and the rear, a brushed metal finish for the section holding the BYD logo flanked by the headlamps, and the ripple effect on the D-pillar, it looks upscale enough for its price.

The 12.8-inch touchscreen that comes with the electric SUV is special because it can rotate to either a landscape or a portrait orientation, depending on the user’s preference. Although BYD has applied for the necessary licences, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will be accessible after the company begins shipping the vehicles this month. A 5.0-inch all-digital driver’s console is also included. The e-keyless NFC key card allows entry into the SUV’s cabin; another unique feature. A simple tap on the driver’s side outside the rear-view mirror unlocks the BYD Atto 3 and allows ingress.

This new EV comes with several convenience features, including an electric tail-gate, a 360-degree camera with a dash camera, a wireless phone charger, front electric power seats, an approximately 50-inch-long panoramic sunroof, and voice command capabilities. The BYD electric SUV has sophisticated safety features such as DiPilot, a Level 2 advanced driver-assistance system that includes Automatic Emergency Braking, Adaptive Cruise Control, Blind Spot Detection, Lane Departure Warning, Adaptive Front Light, and many more features.

The Atto 3’s cabin looks as if it comes from a science fiction film. The cabin design is unique due to the blue leather finish on the dashboard’s top layer, the soft material in the centre panel that is ivory in colour, and the semi-circular air-conditioning vents which BYD refers to as dumbbell-styled vents. The gear-lever and the panel holding the physical switches have an aircraft-like appearance.

The EV’s long wheelbase provides ample room for the rear-seat occupants. There is enough room for three adults. The back-rests are beautifully made and offer excellent support. On the other hand, the boot has a volume of 440 litres, which is adequate for storing trolley bags of a reasonable size.

The Atto 3 receives a five-star Euro NCAP crash-test rating thanks to seven airbags along with three-point seat belts and adjustable head-rests for each of the three occupants. Other safety features like a tyre pressure monitoring system, an electric parking brake, traction control, hill descent control, an anti-lock braking system with electronic brake force distribution, and electronic stability program (ESP) are also included as standard equipment with the Atto 3.

The new electric SUV is effective and powerful thanks to the e-Platform, the Blade battery, and a drag coefficient of 0.29. Eco, Normal, and Sport are the three driving modes that are offered. The throttle response is not overwhelming for someone coming from an ICE vehicle; rather, it accelerates steadily. When you press the accelerator, it accelerates quickly and smoothly, giving you no sense of whiplash.

With a 60.48-kWh battery pack with a range of 521-kilometre (ARAI standards), the Atto 3 has a single 150-kW electric motor driving the front wheels. The Blade Battery technology from BYD is among the safest and most effective in the industry.

According to BYD, the Blade Battery can withstand continuous rounds of DC fast charging without suffering a loss in battery life or functionality. According to the manufacturer, it takes 9.5 to 10 hours to fully charge the Atto 3 using the seven-kW AC charger that is included. Eighty-kW DC fast charging will take 50 minutes to charge from 0 to 80 per cent.

Let’s talk about the Blade Battery. It is a high-energy, iron-phosphate battery developed by BYD. It is used in a variety of electric vehicles and energy storage systems produced by the company. One key feature is its high energy density which allows it to store a large amount of energy in a relatively small and lightweight package. This makes it well-suited for use in EVs, where it can help to extend the range of the vehicle. In addition to its high energy density, the BYD Blade Battery is also known for its durability and long lifespan. The manufacturer has also implemented a number of safety measures in the design of this battery, including a non-flammable electrolyte and a high-voltage cut-off system to prevent overheating. This battery pack has been making waves all over the world as well. It even has caught Tesla Motors’ kingpin Elon Musk’s attention as they plan to use it in the Tesla Model 3.

The electric SUV can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 7.3 seconds and has respectable power and torque figures of 204 hp and 310 Nm respectively. The accelerator and brake pedals are well-calibrated to elicit responses in a predictable and progressive way and the steering has an ideal amount of weight. Driving the Atto 3 didn’t leave us with any big criticisms, as is the case with most EVs.

When you press the accelerator, it accelerates quickly and smoothly, giving you no sense of whiplash. A small whine from the motor may be audible when pushed aggressively, but this is typical of most EVs. A spongy braking reaction is another flaw in most electric cars, but that is not the case here.

Depending on the Normal or Sport mode, you can adjust the steering weight. The fact that it is lightweight makes driving within the city a pleasant experience. The Atto 3 excels in terms of ride quality, cushioning potholes, damaged roads, and ditches. Overall, this EV feels refined and feels like a polished product.

The BYD Atto 3’s current price of Rs 33.99 lakh (ex-showroom) places it between more expensive luxury options such as the Volvo XC40 Recharge and the Kia EV6 at one end and the Hyundai Kona and MG ZS EV at the other. Even though BYD has a long history of success, the company is still relatively unknown in India, which will cause potential customers to think twice before buying the Atto 3.

However, 1,500 orders since its October launch is a respectable number for an EV at this price. With 500 km of range, all the latest comfort and safety technologies, and an opulent interior, premium car customers who want to reduce their carbon footprint will be catered to.


About the author: Vaibhav Kashyap



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