The BYD Yuan PLUS (Atto 3) Is An Electric SUV With A Dragon Face And A Guitar
Issuing time:2022-03-21 16:51
What is it?
While BYD is best known for its hybrid and EV buses in most markets, it’s actually China’s largest electric automaker. The 2022 BYD Yuan PLUS is their latest salvo at the international market, with plans to go on sale in the Australian later this year under the name Atto 3.
The Yuan PLUS is priced at 21,000-24,000 USD in the Chinese market.
Dragons, dragons everywhere
The Yuan PLUS features the latest generation of BYD’s design language, known as Dragon Face 3.0, and it will look familiar to anyone who's seen our review of the BYD Han. Fair warning, you’re going to hear the word “dragon” quite a few times in the coming article. Exhibit A, the silver element that runs across the front end is known as the Dragon’s Beard.
The side profile reveals a very compact but nicely proportioned design. One of the dominant features has to be the panel on the D-pillar, referred to as the Dragon Scales. These D-pillar designs are becoming a signature of BYD designs, and this one might be the best-looking yet, with an interesting texture that shimmers when it catches the sunlight.
Another signature of BYD design is the intricate taillights. The Yuan PLUS doesn’t quite achieve the beauty of the BYD EA1/Dolphin with its braided LED strip, but it does have a complex, layered look to it. Oh, and it’s called the Dragon Crystal, of course.
The rear roofline does a bit into rear hatch space, but the Yuan PLUS still manages to deliver 438L of space with the seats up, and 1338L with the rear seats folded down.
Guitars and bars
Nothing can prepare you for the interior of the Yuan PLUS, which seems to have been created with the sole goal of departing from every convention of interior design. The 5-inch instrument cluster screen and 15.6-inch infotainment screen are pretty mainstream options at this point, as are the wireless charging pad and other features like adaptive cruise control with stop and go. It’s the details, however, that defy convention.
According to BYD, the Yuan PLUS takes inspiration from two things: music and fitness. The overall look is organic and flowing, with very few flat surfaces. Yes, there are more dragon elements. Specifically, the light-colored center section of the dashboard is also referred to as the Dragon’s Beard. That flowing section is inlayed with a pattern that is said to be inspired by muscle fibers, and the air vents too are said to be inspired by dumbbells.
The music theme is mostly focused on the door, which makes the door grab handles are a bit confusing. At first glance, they appeared to be modeled on barbells, but considering the fact that the other door elements are clearly music inspired, we’re not quite sure that’s what they were going for.
The other two elements are ones we’ve never seen in any other car. The first is the door handle itself, which actually integrate a speaker into its design and operates with a simple pull. They are both ergonomic and eye-catching.
The second is more subtle, but all the better for it. A close inspection of the door pocket reveals that it resembles a guitar, but that resembles is more than just skin deep. The red strings actually produce three distinct notes, allowing you to play simple tunes. Rear seat passengers also have their own door guitars, which will no doubt become the bane of every parent’s existence after three days of hauling kids around.
Small SUV, big progress
All version of the Yuan PLUS come equipped with a single, front-mounted motor making 150 kW and 310 Nm of torque (200 hp and 230 lb-ft) and resulting in a class-leading 0-100 km/h time of 7.3-seconds. That motor is fed by either a 50 kWh or 60 kWh battery pack delivering 430 km (268 miles) and 510 km (316 miles) of CLTC range, respectively.
The Yuan PLUS has quite a bit in common with the previously mentioned BYD EA1, starting with the fact that they both ride on BYD’s e-platform 3.0, the company’s latest electric vehicle architecture. The architecture’s highlights include the fact that it supports 800V charging (assuming you can possibly find an 800v charger) and its use of BYD’s blade battery technology. It is also the only car in its class to feature a heat pump. That means better range in cold weather conditions.
The last BYD SUV that we reviewed was the 2020 BYD Tang, the large SUV sibling to the Yuan PLUS, and we came away thinking it was a fast hybrid SUV with some serious suspension and steering issues. At the time, we described the steering as videogame-esque, and the suspension damping in need of refinement.
But this is the Chinese market, and two years is a lifetime when it comes to product development. As such, the Yuan PLUS is a genuine improvement. Gone is the harsh, booming ride of the Tang, and in its place is one that is much more comfortable and composed. The steering provides little in terms of feedback, but it does feel far more direct.
These can be attributed, at least in part, to the smaller body dimensions and wheels of the Yuan PLUS (18-inch vs. the 22-inches of the Tang), but it doesn’t take much time behind the wheel to realize this is a whole new level of driving quality from BYD
While brands like XPeng, Li, and NIO grab the headlines abroad, it’s BYD that continues to dominate the electric vehicle market here in China. With products as interesting as the Yuan PLUS, its hard to believe that dynamic will last much longer.
Article classification: Electric Vehicles