Why we ran it: To find out if this quirky newcomer is a serious prospect or a flash in the pan
Final report - Month 3 - Month 2 - Month 1 - Specs
Life with a BYD Atto 3: Final report
First impressions aren’t always reliable but you can be sure of these final ones - 10 January 2024
There's a very good reason why we conduct more than one type of testing here at Autocar. Spend just a few days with a new car and it can be all too easy to focus on the negatives, whereas with a sustained period together it can work its way under your skin - and that's just what has happened with the BYD.
But let's deal with those negatives first. For one, this is not an exciting car to drive. Not a bad one, by any means, with a decent turn of speed, fluid yet inert steering and a fair amount of body roll but reasonable composure. It corners tidily and competently, but you won't find yourself seeking out favourite roads for a longer route home.
Then there are the controls. Just adjusting the radio or changing the seat heaters requires you to enter the maze of the infotainment system. The screen itself is massive and clear and rotates through 90deg (though I am still not exactly sure why), but the menus are far from intuitive and you'll have to tether your mobile with a cable - conventional USB only, even though there is a micro-USB port - if you want to take advantage of Apple CarPlay via Bluetooth, however.
The climate control is frustrating too. Turn off the power-sapping (and noisy) air conditioning and the Atto 3 has a tendency to mist up, and finding the perfect temperature isn't always easy, This system: you'll find yourself making regular adjustments to keep things comfortable.
But the greatest irritation for me was the insistent beeping of the collision sensor, which seemed to be convinced every parked car I passed was about to jump out in front of me, even applying the brakes quite forcefully on a few occasions, so I tended to delve into the menu maze to try to turn it off when I remembered.
The thing is, working around most of the above became second nature fairly quickly, and if you can look past the frustrations, there is an awful lot to like about this deceptive car. Deceptive because what looks like an innocuous and relatively compact SUV on the outside is in fact remarkably spacious, particularly in the rear, making it an ideal family wagon (despite a relatively compact boot).