NOW here is a car company you may well not of heard of… but that does not mean they are new to making motors.

BYD have launched their first ever car in Europe, the all-electric ATTO 3, and from just £36,490 this mid-size C-segment SUV looks like a bit of a bargain.

It is stylish, has good range, a great standard kit list and drives really well – oh yes and it is Chinese. BYD stands for Build Your Dreams and the company, whilst almost unheard of in the UK, is the number one new energy car builder world-wide having already made 4.6 MILLION vehicles in the last 13 years.

The biggest manufacturer in China, BYD started making batteries for mobile phones and now, as well as selling cars in 70 countries, also makes electric trains, buses, trucks and fork lifts.

So we will be seeing a lot of BYD, who already have a growing network of dealers across the country, with an aim to hit 30 by the end of this year. So big is BYD that on the ATTO 3 they make every single part for the car except for its glass and tyres.
Founded in 1995 it has 28 years of battery expertise and more than 600,000 employees, including 49,000 engineers and 11 research centres in 70 countries.

In 2022 the brand had new energy passenger car sales totalling 1.8 million globally – an increase of over 212 per cent compared to 2021. Sales of Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV) reached 946,239 units and Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) 911,140.

The ATTO 3 is a spacious front-wheel drive SUV which uses BYD’s next-generation ePlatform 3.0 electric powertrain featuring their unique modular Blade Battery system, which also adds to the cars structural safety and helps it achieve a Five-Star Rating in Euro NCAP Safety Tests.

The trim variants are Active, Comfort and range-topping Design, which was the model we got to try out at a BYD driving day recently in not so sunny Bolton.

Prices are from £36,490 up to £38,990 with all sharing a high level of standard equipment – the main differences being battery capacity and performance.

That standard kit includes distinctive automatic LED headlights and a rear light bar across the width of the car. Electrically folding and heated wing mirrors complete with downlights are fitted while our range-topping Design also has an electric tailgate and electric folding door mirrors.

The eye-catching 18-inch black and silver alloy wheels are paired up with five colour choices with metallic at no extra cost – Surfing Blue, Climbing Grey, Skiing White, Parkour Red and Exploring Green.

The sporty interior has some unique features including a large central screen which can physically be spun at the touch of a button from landscape to portrait mode, gym-inspired design touches such as barbell-style door handles and a kettlebell style gear selector and weirdest of all chords over the door pockets which double as strings that play notes when strummed.

The sporty seats – all in ‘vegan’ leather – have red stitching with the front heated with electric adjustment. There is a 5” LCD instrument panel ahead of the driver and smartphone wireless charging plus a panoramic glass sliding sunroof with sunshade, multi-coloured mood lighting and auto dipping rear mirror.

As this is an electric car range is a big issue and the ATTO 3 can do up to 260 miles out of town or 350 city miles on a single charge, aided by the car’s high-efficiency integrated heat pump – a first direct cooling and heating system for car batteries increasing thermal efficiency by up to 20 per cent in winter. Charging times are 6 hours 30 minutes from flat to full on an 11kv three-phase charger but as little as 80 minutes from an ultra-fast supply.

Performance from this single motor unit FWD version it is 0 to 62mph in just 7.3 seconds and a top speed of 99mph which is why it feels nippy and nimble on the road. There are four driving modes: Sport, Normal, Economy and Snow.

ATTO 3 has lots of safety aids as standard with features like Forward Collision Warning, Automatic Emergency Braking, Rear Collision Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Rear Cross Traffic Brake, Lane Keep Assistance and Emergency Lane Keep.

Further driver aids are Blind Spot Detection, Electronic Stability Program, Electronic Brake Distribution, Electric Parking Brake, Antilock Braking System, Automatic Vehicle Hold, Traction Control, Hill Decent Control, Traffic Sign Recognition and Intelligent Speed Limit control.

Adaptive cruise and a panoramic camera system with 360-degree visibility are also fitted across the range as is sat-nav, integrated Apps including Apple CarPlay and a premium sound system.

An 8 years or 120,000 miles battery warranty, 12 years bodywork guarantee and complete vehicle warranty of 4 years or 70,000 miles completes the package.

So BYD is a name we will all have to get used to because this level of style, performance and equipment will mean their cars are sure to be a hit… and there’s an electric hatchback and sporty saloon coming soon too!

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By Motoring Editor Steve Howarth