BYD Atto 3 standard range review: Hey BYD, we're still really impressed

David Linklater
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sport utility vehicle
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Clean Car Rebate
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Maximum torque Nm
  • Still a great all-rounder
  • Claimed range very doable in everyday driving
  • 'Winter special' price of $56,990
  • Idiosyncratic interior still polarising
  • Phone projection only works with screen in landscape mode
  • Nagging driver assists on motorway

Well, we were kind of hoping BYD New Zealand would give us a blue or grey one, to at least show you something a little different. But this Atto 3 is familiar Ski White, as tested several times over the past year by the DRIVEN Car Guide crew. No matter… it’s a nice colour.

But this is indeed an Atto 3 we haven’t reviewed before: the entry-level “standard range” model, which has a smaller battery and is therefore also the cheapest Atto 3 option available.

The standard range has a 50kW battery, 10kW less than the extended range version. The WLTP difference is 75km, for a total range of 345km versus 420km. The price difference is $3500 ($58,990), meaning you’re getting a discount of $47 for every kilometre you’re giving up between charges. Or a bit more at the moment, because there's a "winter special" special price of $56,990 for a limited time.

The battery really is the only point of difference, because in every other respect the standard and extended-range Atto 3 models are identical-looking and identically equipped.

Despite the 70kg weight difference between standard and extended, BYD claims the same performance for both and there’s no discernible difference in the way each drives.

But we thought it worth shining the spotlight on this model because while we’re all still fixated with getting the maximum possible range from BEVs, in reality most of us can do with much less than we think. And the 50kWh Atto 3 still offers a pretty healthy distance between charges when you consider that BYD tends to understate its figures. Both models will easily achieve those WLTP ranges day-to-day, unless you’re hammering along the motorway at high speed all the time.

We won’t deep dive into the Atto 3 again, because we’ve reviewed it so often. But you can read our original launch story here, watch our 1000km-in-a-day in the extended range video here, or check out our full review of the new flagship Atto 3 Tachyon (also with video) here.

The beauty of “live” cars is that there’s always something happening…or about to happen.

Despite the 70kg weight difference between standard and extended, BYD claims the same performance for both and there’s no discernible difference in the way each drives.

But batteries/range aside, this particular Atto 3 is also our first experience of some significant upgrades to the whole Atto 3 lineup since launch – even though this isn’t in any way a new model. It’s benefitted from at least half a dozen over the air (OTA) updates since we last drove it at launch, in 2022.

These include the very welcome addition of Apple/Android wireless phone projection (although the rotating screen has to be in landscape mode for that), changes to steering angle and throttle calibration, and enhanced functionality for the “Hey BYD” intelligent voice assistant.

The phone projection is great because the screen is so large and, frankly, the standard BYD infotainment OS isn't the friendliest – although it is very fast.

The voice assistant is simply brilliant. It’s incredibly quick to wake and do your bidding… in a way that puts similar systems from BMW and Mercedes-Benz to shame. You can do anything from adjust the air-con to open a window. As a tribute to the speed of the system, we actually started using it to drop the driver’s window when entering and exiting the DRIVEN Car Guide parking facility, because it was easier than looking down to press the door switch. Yes, really.

Even if you think “Hey BYD” is a bit gimmicky, it’s a great companion to the phone projection, because the latter takes over the home screen. So you can activate vehicle functions within the screen without actually to collapse your Apple or Android display.

That’s the beauty of “live” cars; there’s always something happening…or about to happen.

Oh, and the NZ-specific BYD owner app is now fully active.

Fortuitously, another OTA arrived during our test time with the car: it upgraded to V1.6, a prompt arriving on the home screen one day. It we wouldn’t be able to use the car for 25 minutes, and once okayed it simply downloaded some… stuff and rebooted itself. Job done.

As an example of the kind of thing that happens, this update included improvements to the air con/ventilation(to fix a curious and occasional winter fogging problem, although it's also solved by: "Hey BYD, demist the windscreen"), an improved Power Meter display for the Atto3 standard range and perhaps most importantly, dynamic range estimation, which enables the car to better calculate the distance-to-flat on the current charge in ever-changing real-time.

For the record, our Atto 3’s first charge after the update registered 420km range at 100 per cent battery; pretty impressive for a car with an official WLTP figure of 345km and perhaps based on the exclusively urban commuting I’d done since the reboot, which is the kind of driving where EVs really shine.

The update happened towards the end of our time with the Atto 3, but we did take the opportunity to do a quick 90km run down the motorway – arguably the least favourable scenario for a BEV.

The indicated range dropped 114km from that initial high after that actual 91km journey – pretty accurate considering the vast difference in driving environment that resulted in the initial calculation. If we’d kept going at that rate, based on the 70 per cent of battery left, the car would have been good for just over 300km of real-world motorway running – again, pretty good considering open-road driving is hard on power consumption.

Easy to get caught up in the numbers, right? Point is, we’re as impressed with the Atto 3 as ever, and OTA updates mean the car is getting smarter as time goes by.

BATTERY: 50kWh with single electric motor
POWER: 150kW/310Nm
GEARBOX: Single-speed automatic, FWD
RANGE: 345km
PRICE: $58,990

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