Inicio BYD ‘I tried the Chinese EV brand which could be bigger than Tesla

‘I tried the Chinese EV brand which could be bigger than Tesla

'I tried the Chinese EV brand which could be bigger than Tesla

byd atto car

The BYD Atto is available for just under £38,000 (Image: BYD)

What we love

  • Comfortable ride and soft suspension
  • Bumper technology package and five-star safety
  • Affordable price tag and even more manageable on a finance deal

What we don’t

  • Interior is quirky and fun but lacks quality compared to rivals
  • ‘Build Your Dreams’ lettering on the rear bodywork
  • Uncertainty over used car prices mean values could drop

Like many Chinese cars that have made their way to the UK, the BYD Atto 3 aims to offer good value for money for drivers looking to get into their first electric car. With prices starting from just under £38,000, there are cheaper models, but the Atto 3 is still more affordable than similarly-sized SUVs like the Tesla Model Y.

Exterior styling may not be breathtaking, but it is inoffensive and trendy. The inside, however, is incredibly distinctive, with plenty of quirks to entertain the driver and occupants alike.

Technology is good, particularly on the top-of-the-range Design trim, which features a 10.25-inch touchscreen that can be rotated, an electric tailgate and heated front seats. This is matched with a decent-sized powertrain offering a 260-mile range and fairly speedy public charging.

On the road, the BYD Atto 3 is not the fastest electric car, but offers acceleration that will impress most petrol and diesel owners. Like almost all EVs, the Atto 3 is smooth and easy to drive, and soaks up bumps and potholes nicely.

Despite uncertainty on the used car market causing values to drop quite quickly, the BYD Atto 3 shows that Chinese cars are no longer as cheap and nasty as they once were and can quite easily rival models built by more established Western brands.

byd atto 3

BYD produced three million EVs in 2023, more than Tesla (Image: BYD)

Over the past couple of years, it has been nearly impossible not to notice the growing number of Chinese-made cars on the roads. The country that banned private car ownership until the 1990s now makes more passenger vehicles than anywhere else.

Out of the many companies building cars in China, BYD is the most successful, producing three million electric vehicles in 2023 alone, more than even Tesla could manage.

Here in the UK, BYD has been operating since 2022 and currently offers three variants, with the Atto 3 arguably being the most useful for the family motorist compared to its top-end Dolphin and Seal model ranges.

An electric SUV that is roughly the same size as the Kia Niro EV and equally Chinese MG ZS, the Atto 3’s biggest draw is its comparatively low price with costs starting at just £37,695.

Whilst this represents several thousand more than the UK average annual salary, it still undercuts more popular models, such as the Tesla Model Y and Hyundai Ioniq 5.

byd interior

The BYD’s interior is stylish but somewhat lacks behind similar EV rivals (Image: Getty)


Compared to some of its more established rivals, the BYD Atto 3 is not a particularly striking car to look at, bucking the idea that all EVs need to look like spaceships.

However, the styling is certainly very pleasant, featuring a sleek set of headlights, nicely sculpted grille and brushed steel-like trim throughout the bodywork.

The only element of the Atto 3’s design that I was not so keen on was the motivational speech-like ‘Build Your Dreams’ lettering on the tailgate, which BYD say they will soon replace with a much more conventional badge to suit the taste of European motorists.


Stepping inside the BYD Atto 3, your attention will immediately be drawn to the quirkiness of the cabin which offers something different compared to its rivals.

The aeroplane-style joystick positioned centre stage of the cabin might look like it comes straight from a jet but the tool quickly and efficiently allows motorists to switch between the different drive modes with relative ease.

Heavy rope is tied around the underside of the door which cheekily doubles up as a series of playful guitar strings passengers are likely to fiddle with. The thick rope is handy in that it will hold heavy items in place for longer while the musical undertones certainly give the motor an added touch of personality.

However, introduce this to a gaggle of young children ahead of a sizeable road trip at your peril as the novelty of uninspiring pings is likely to wear off over time. Keeping up the eccentric theme, the Atto 3 ditches traditional interior door handles for something a bit more fun.

Instead of opting for standard and clean, the handle is built into a plastic speaker attached to the frame which users have to twist around to unlock. The Atto 3 is generally very roomy with enough space at the back for three adult passengers to feel more than satisfied.

byd atto 3 interior

The BYD’s 15.1 inch touchscreen can be twisted 90-degrees (Image: Jack Mortimer)

Although, one slight drawback is that the rear seats are unable to be moved forward or backwards while the angle of the backrests also cannot be altered. A spacious 440 litres of boot space will carry several suitcases although motorists may need to leave some room to access the charging cable due to the absence of a front bonnet frunk.

The seats were comfortable and a somewhat elevated seating position given its SUV body type is another bonus. Pulling back the retractable sunroof exposes a clear glass roof which also makes the car feel extra spacious and light.

However, the interior certainly feels cheaper and less stylish than other models in the EV market such as cabins produced by Tesla.

Despite this, BYD has made sure to install the cheapest EV in their collection with a bucket-load of technology with safety at the forefront. Lane assist technology, forward collision alert, blind-spot detection and traffic-sign tools are all included and helped the Atto 3 secure a five-star safety record from Euro NCAP.

There is also a handy wireless charging pad located in the centre console although we couldn’t get this working on our test drive. Parking technology includes both front and rear parking sensors as well as a 360-degree aerial view.

A 15.1-inch touchscreen is installed at the centre of the dashboard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto technology built-in. Uniquely, the screen can be rotated 90 degrees allowing for a vertical as well as a horizontal display.

Another important feature is a 5-inch digital display fitted just behind the steering wheel which displays vital information such as speeds and battery life. However, this lags behind almost all of its rivals with low-quality graphics and a lack of customisation.

It also feels pretty flimsy and as if it’s merely stuck onto the back of the wheel and not as fancy as others in the category or even old-school traditional dials.

byd door handle

The quirkiness of the interior carries over to the unique door handles (Image: Jack Mortimer)

guitar string byd

Guitar strings add a new touch but will the novelty of the sound wear off (Image: Jack Motimer)


With Atto 3 stemming from ‘attosecond’, or one quintillion of a second, there is no doubt that the SUV is rather punchy. Both trim levels feature the same powertrain, which consists of a 201bhp motor driving the front wheels.

In reality, this means Atto 3 owners in a rush can accelerate from 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds and reach a top speed that has been limited to 99mph. Whilst neither figure will beat more expensive electric cars, drivers making the switch from a petrol or diesel SUV will find it a fair step up.

The first thing that strikes me after getting into more or less any electric car is just how smooth they are off the mark. It is impossible to judder or stall, drivers simply glide away. Glide is perhaps the best word to describe the Atto 3, as the ride quality is very acceptable. Heading over speed bumps is hardly ever going to be a nice feeling, but the BYD soaks them up nicely.

Cornering was also a positive feeling, with nicely weighted steering in all driving conditions and only a small feeling of body roll at high speeds. Here in the UK, the Atto 3 can only be ordered with a 60.48kWh battery pack, although the company has recently introduced smaller alternatives in other markets in a bid to lower the starting price.

Whilst alternatives can be ordered with larger batteries, the 260-mile range offered by the Atto 3 will certainly suffice for most motorists. Charging the BYD up is also a fairly speedy experience, taking 29 minutes for the battery to increase from 30 to 80 percent on an 88kW DC charger.

byd atto 3

We were not a fan of the ‘Build Your Dreams’ lettering on the tailgate (Image: Jack Mortimer)


The £37,695 price tag is a whopping £7,000 cheaper than one of its closest rivals, the Tesla Model Y making this a great option for those looking at the lower end of the price range.

But, Atto 3 is not the cheapest option on the market with SUV fans able to secure Volvo’s XC30 for around £4,000 less. However, the Atto 3 becomes genuinely affordable when taken out on a monthly finance agreement.

With a zero percent APR deal, motorists can get their hands on the cheapest Comfort Atto 3 for just under £300 per month if they stump up £7,356 upfront. Meanwhile, the top-tier Design model can also be secured for just the monthly charge of £319.


It is easy to imagine that a brand that made its first car just 21 years ago would still have a lot to learn. However, the BYD Atto 3 is an incredibly competent family car. Whilst drivers will undoubtedly get more smiles from more performance-focused rivals, Atto 3 owners can feel upbeat about saving a few thousand and still getting a nice range of features and a practical EV.

One small word of warning, however. Since Chinese cars are still quite new to the UK market, used car values are still a little uncertain, meaning motorists looking to get the biggest bang for their buck should look into buying an example that is a few months old, with some up to £10,000 less than retail price.

The Atto 3’s interior doesn’t stick to conformity but maybe unconventional is a label that suits the brand likely to become one of the biggest disruptors to OEMs in decades.