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Driving

What is it like to drive?

It launches smoothly, without any self-conscious electric jolt. After that, acceleration is useful up to motorway speeds, so main-road overtaking isn't an issue. Power is just over 200bhp, weight 1,750kg, so it's merely sufficiently brisk rather than quick: 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds.

Slowing down is less intuitive. The brake pedal is ineffective at the top, and soggy all the way down. Not saying it won't stop you, just that you don't feel entirely in control of the rate. A button on the console switches between two degrees of regeneration. Both are more mild than in rivals, and the less-mild of the two has an oddly delayed action that's at odds with the quick and progressive response of acceleration.

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What about the steering?

The steering is much better calibrated. It's sensibly geared and well-weighted. It also self-centres intuitively, which makes for good directional stability on motorways. It suffers mildly from torque-steer, and on greasy roads the inside tyre easily loses traction coming out of a bend.

The Atto 3 feels pretty light for a car in this class: it's not too reluctant to turn, and body heave and pitch are well controlled. Those are benefits of a 1,750kg kerb weight, which is less than many.

Talk to me about the ride.

In general the ride is pretty supple too, especially on bigger bumps. A bit of secondary harshness shows up on smaller road creases, and a bit of medium-frequency vertical bounce at speed, but nothing to get exercised about.

All versions get a full driver-assist suite including 360-degree parking cameras.

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And the EV efficiency?

On our first test drive we managed 3.5mi/kWh at some reasonably ambitious speeds around the Cotswolds on a cold day. You'd do better. That consumption figure equates to 210 miles' range. Bank on about 230 if being more sane in warmer weather.

For overnight charging, it'll accept 7kW AC. The top versions have a three-phase on-board charger, but it isn't much advantage as it's only 11kW. So it cuts full charge time only from nine and a half to six and a half hours. (Most three-phase public charge posts can deliver 22kW to cars that can accept it, which would give the BYD a 3hr 15min replenishment).

On DC charging, the claim is that the blade battery can maintain its peak-charging power of 88kW right up to 80 per cent. Unfortunately some rivals can draw more power, if only up to about 40 per cent. Anyway the Atto 3 can do 20-80 per cent in just over 35 minutes, which is average but no better.

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