In-depth reviews

BYD Atto 3 review - Interior, design and technology

The Atto 3’s anonymous styling conceals a bold, funky interior packed with technology

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Interior, design and technology Rating

4.0 out of 5

£37,695 to £39,695
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The Atto 3’s styling is best described as neat and inoffensive. It’s a pretty anonymous-looking family SUV, albeit with some details along the flanks that look similar to the flourishes on the Volkswagen ID.4. One small detail we honed in on is that, while a BYD badge adorns the nose, the full ‘Build Your Dreams’ slogan is written across the tailgate. To us, it seems a bit tacky, but hardly a dealbreaker.

The contrast between the Atto 3’s exterior and interior design is quite stark. The cabin is a riot of colour and funky LED lighting. The light grey and blue trim and upholstery are a refreshing contrast to the all-black interior featured in the Kia Niro EV and MG ZS EV. BYD’s red stitching and details feel a bit excessive to us, but it’s subjective.

We couldn’t fault the build quality of the Atto 3. There are soft-touch materials in many of the key areas and, while there are some fussy elements – the air vents seem designed to make a statement, there are flashes of red piping on the seats, and ‘guitar strings’ form the door pockets – the overall effect has a bit more panache than, say, MG’s cabins. 

We also like that the internal door releases have been neatly integrated into the tops of the speakers – simply pull back to open. The only problems were the reflections off the steering wheel boss, and the driver display on our test car being a little crooked on the steering column. 

There are just three trim levels to choose from: Active, Comfort and Design. The only differences between the first two specs are base models come with a 7kW on-board charger and one-phase charging cable, while Comfort trim adds an 11kW on-board charger and three-phase charging cable. The upgrade only costs £500 though, so we expect many people will pay that just in case they have, or plan to use, a home wallbox or public charging point capable of those faster speeds.

Top-of-the-range Design models like our test car do get a few extras, including a larger central touchscreen, air purification system, some additional ambient lighting and a powered tailgate, plus some floor and boot mats. However, we don’t think it’s worth the extra £2,000 over Comfort trim. Unless you must have the bigger touchscreen, Comfort spec has all you need.

There are no extras to optional choose from, but we think our car’s Surfing Blue is the best colour, and it’s a no-cost option.

Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment

There’s a technological tour de force in the Atto 3, with a 12.8-inch touchscreen infotainment system in Active and Comfort spec models, and a 15.6-inch display in Design trim cars like the one we tested. Both set-ups can rotate between portrait and landscape orientation. It is a bit of a gimmick – and one that’s starting to pop up here and there in EVs now – but BYD suggests you might want to use the screen upright for navigation, and return it to a wider layout for music. We’re less sure it wouldn’t be used once (you can control it via the screen or a steering wheel-mounted button) and then left in a single position thereafter. 

While some rivals use their screen’s enormous size to place essential controls permanently at the bottom or side for easy access, you still have to do a reasonable amount of searching through menus in the BYD. There are some climate functions on the display, but you need to access a sub-menu for the rest, and if you’re using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, the shortcut to your smartphone screen is hidden away.

The screen itself is quick to respond to inputs, though, and the mapping is fast to plot routes, while connected services are available, too. BYD provides two years of free over-the-air updates as part of the purchase, with a subscription to pay thereafter.

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