BYD also isn’t chasing straight-line performance goals, with the Atto 3 accelerating to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 7.2 seconds. Leisurely by today’s EV standards, but perfectly quick enough for a car like this. Remember, it’s supposed to be a good-value family car designed to slot into your everyday life; too many EVs have the sort of rocketship performance that your passengers, dog, and groceries simply won’t stand for. The Atto 3’s acceleration is adequate, and we’re here for it.

Range, of course, is far more important. BYD’s claim of 260 miles (WLTP) is 25 short of the Kia Niro EV and 23 behind the £45,000/$44,000 Tesla Model Y, but 11 ahead of the similarly-priced Škoda Enyaq. Take driving style and temperature into account, and you should expect a real-world range closer to 220 miles. Not bad, but you’ll still long for faster charging every time you plug in.

The brakes are fine, although the pedal is spongy, and the switch from regenerative braking to using the discs and pads is nicely judged. There are two strengths of regeneration to pick from, via a toggle switch on the center console or by diving into the touchscreen, but neither is particularly strong and, sadly, one-pedal driving isn’t an option.

This being a new car built to comply with Europe’s latest safety standards means the usual frustrations are all present and correct. You are told off every time you exceed the speed limit, even by just 2 mph, and because the road sign recognition system makes mistakes, you’ll sometimes be scolded by the car’s voice assistant when it has misread a sign. Bafflingly, sometimes the navigation screen and the driver display disagree on what the speed limit is; other times they don’t show a limit at all.

There’s no Tesla Autopilot-style hands-off driving, but the Atto 3 still has lane-keep assist among other driver assistance systems. It usually issues a bit of gentle feedback if you stray over a lane marking, but on two occasions during our 90-minute drive the car grabbed the wheel like a panicked driving instructor. The first time it happened was a real shock, as the steering wheel was tugged at for no obvious reason, and, as with these systems on almost all new cars, the first intervention plants a seed of doubt that never really goes away. As ever, it’s best to turn these systems down to their least invasive setting.

Taste of Things to Come

What to make of the BYD Atto 3? The question could equally be, what to make of the approaching flood of electric cars built by Chinese firms who are giants at home but unheard of in the West?

This is not a car for driving enthusiasts, clearly. And while also not groundbreaking, the Atto 3 is perfectly good at being an electric car. It has a fun, spacious, and nicely designed interior that’s packed as standard with kit often hiding in the options lists of pricier German cars.

The touchscreen software needs some work, and permanent climate controls are a must in our book. Performance and range are both fine, and ride quality is decent, but we wish all that battery expertise had resulted in faster charging.

Ultimately, the Atto 3 does little to stand out from what is quickly becoming a crowded segment of the EV market. It feels well made and represents good value, but while that glittering Mayfair showroom promises a lot, the unknown badge asks buyers to take a leap of faith.

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