BYD Act 3 Drive Review: Funky Chinese EV but a truly premium SUV?

Chinese BEV giant, Build Your Dreams (BYD), has launched its own Act 3 e-SUV for the Indian market and we recently had a chance to test it in Chennai. While BYD by no means a fledgling automaker, it is still the first Chinese EV maker to venture into India without any pretense. For those who may not know, the current EV landscape in India has its fair share of Chinese influence through brands that hail from European countries but are owned by Chinese companies and push their products here. Considering this fact, a lot depends on the first impression both Act 3 and BYD leave on the buyers here in India.
A well-balanced exterior design:
Instead of launching an extravagant-looking halo product to make its mark, BYD has chosen to proceed with a limited approach for the Act 3 exterior. It’s a design that is pleasing to the eye and fits perfectly into the landscape, while still attracting attention with its sharp LED headlights and an LED daytime running light strip that runs along the front fascia. At the rear, the conjoined lightbar theme continues with pilot lights running from taillight to taillight and is accented with handsome chrome trim.


The silhouette of the Act 3 is that of a mid-size SUV but at 1,615mm tall and with its 2,720mm wheelbase it looks more like a real-life crossover. Don’t get us wrong, the EV still has the presence of a midsize SUV thanks to the strong beltline that sits high and the 18-inch alloy wheels on offer. The diamond wheels have a petal design and plastic inserts that help achieve an overall wind drag coefficient of 0.29CD and are wrapped in Atlas Batman tires known for being quiet on the road.
BYD gave traditional Atto 3 door handles that feel sturdy to hold and pull. At the rear, the Act 3 gets a double-sided brushed silver plaque that features a 3D embossed pattern and wraps around the side profile nicely. To our satisfaction, the door makes a reassuring thud when it closes and is a testament to the build quality of the EV that we found to be quite good.


BYD Electronic Platform 3.0:
Before we get into the more exciting parts of Act 3, it’s vital you understand the Electronics 3.0 platform this EV was built on. BYD’s e-Platform 3.0 is a modular EV platform that can support different body styles. Being a skateboard architecture, it allows for short overhangs on the outside and greater space efficiency on the inside while offering a flat surface. The technical advantages of the platform will also be mentioned at a relevant stage of this review, so just wait.
Interior unlike any other in the segment:
While the Act 3’s exterior is limited and beautiful enough to stand the test of time, the interior is where BYD has chosen to showcase a large chunk of its design and manufacturing capabilities. An EV is associated by many first-time buyers as the future of mobility, and the Act 3’s interior is sure to appeal to that crowd.
Inside the Act 3’s cabin, the entire design language is unlike anything we’ve seen in the segment. Half appear to have been produced with a 3D printer and belong to a concept car. It was unique enough to warrant an entire in-depth video by itself, watch it here.

BYD Interior Review Act 3 | Practical features or just gimmicks? | TOI Auto

Then there’s the 12.8-inch rotatable touchscreen in the center that offers infotainment and many other car functions such as intelligent chassis control, transmission analysis and more. For driver information, there’s a 5-inch floating digital display that sits behind the flat-bottomed steering wheel and offers ample information. However, the screen resolution is average at best.


The only physical buttons that can be located are on the steering wheel and on the center console which is located overhead. The brushed silver drive mode selector is finished in blue leatherette and there is no response lag. However, we could barely get it into neutral and had to keep putting the EV into park mode when we came to a complete stop.
Another interesting aspect of the Act 3 cabin was the door handles. The tweeters on the doors double as a doorknob with a handle that can be pulled back to release the latch. It’s unique and didn’t feel like a gimmick that would lose its potency after getting used to it over time. It also features multi-coloured ambient lighting elements distributed throughout the interior in keeping with the premium allure of the interior.


The front seats are bucket style and offer good cushioning, comfort and support. They are again finished in the same blue leatherette, but have a red sticker and white perforated leather tips for the centre. From the headlining, A-pillar all the way to the rear and lower end of the dashboard everything is finished in black which makes the interior even sportier and feels premium to be inside. This is balanced by the panoramic sunroof, which comes with a curtain that can be opened to let in more light.
BYD Blade Battery – The Act 3 Differentiator:
While the exterior and interior design might not be enough to convince a potential buyer, the Act 3’s proprietary Blade battery could get the job done. The EV gets a 60.48 kWh Blade battery that offers an ARAI-tested 521 km range and a 0-100 km/h acceleration time of just 7.3 seconds. Additionally, BYD’s Blade battery is puncture resistant and achieves fast-charging capability with a claimed 0-80% charge in less than 50 minutes. However, the manufacturer has not disclosed the maximum kWh supported by the charging system.
During our test drive, the displayed battery range on 100 percent charge was more in line with the Act 3 certified NEDC figure of 480km. We spent most of the time driving in Sport mode and didn’t notice any drastic drop in the amount of charge and this can also be attributed to the fact that the EV starts regenerating power from speeds of 2km/h onwards. What was particularly pleasant to learn is that the power regeneration is barely noticeable.
During our short 130km ride (in sport mode) we recorded an average energy consumption of 15.5kWh per 100km. This still meant that the EV could do at least over 390km and more when used in eco mode.
Performance and handling:
We tested the claim of 7.3 seconds from 0 to 100 km/h and were not disappointed. Indeed, the way Act 3 does its acceleration is what pleasantly surprised us. While the electric motor produces 201PS and 310Nm of torque, all that acceleration is delivered in an effective yet refined way. Dropping your foot will propel you forward quickly no doubt, but you feel secure and confident as you do so. That’s not the case with other EVs we’ve tested before, which offer instant acceleration but feel dangerous and risky while doing so.


However, on the flip side, the Act 3’s steering feel becomes floaty at triple-digit speeds, and body control isn’t very reassuring either. Sudden braking at high speed also causes the steering wheel to twitch significantly and is not very desirable. At high speeds, the Act 3 is best suited for a more careful approach while around town, it’s a breeze to drive and feels very intuitive. This can be attributed to the EV being more tuned to deliver a luxurious driving experience, rather than being a grand tourer.
The Act 3 has three driving modes, Sport, Normal and Eco. The difference between Sport and Normal modes isn’t too far off, Eco mode makes the EV more subdued but still highly responsive in terms of accelerating when it needs to. The Act 3’s intelligent chassis also offers a sport mode for the brakes and steering feedback that gives the driver more control.
In terms of comfort, the NVH levels inside the cabin deserve special mention as hardly any road noise was heard. the cabin looks normal. As mentioned earlier, the front seats offered good comfort and support, but the second row could offer more support under the thighs. As an electric walk-behind vehicle, the Act 3 gets a completely flat floor surface which makes it easy for three passengers to travel in the back.


The ADAS – DiPilot 2 experience:
The Act 3 gets several Level 2 ADAS systems like Lane Keep Assist, Anti-Collision Braking, Adaptive Cruise Control, Blind Spot Monitor and more, which earned it a 5-star Euro safety rating -NCAP. The controls for lane keeping and adaptive cruise control are located on the left side of the steering wheel. Lane keeping assist works well on clearly marked roads when activated and the adaptive cruise control has also done a good job. However, there has been an instance on a narrow single road where the vehicle anticipated an accident when overtaking and activated anti-collision braking, so it is best to understand the system before trusting it completely.
The experience was bittersweet as the maneuver that triggered it was performed from a safe distance, however, the EV did not come to a complete stop and applied a short burst of braking and corrected the steering position to avoid a crash before regaining control in a fraction of a second. This has led us to become more aware and to make informed choices before overtaking.


At the former Rs 33.9 lakh showroom, BYD is certainly making a bold move with its first consumer-focused EV for India. Especially considering the competition offers roughly the same amount of efficiency, performance, and many of these features for a much lower price. However, during an interaction with us, BYD India Senior Vice President Sanjay Gopalakrishnan told TOI Auto that Act 3 is aimed at people who want a premium secondary car that offers “electric” convenience and comfort.
Keeping first impressions in mind, the Atto 3 offers a near-perfect balance of urban performance, range and features that a premium EV buyer is likely to be looking for, but also wants something new and different. While the Act 3’s interior and a couple of features may seem impractical, they’re certainly conversation starters and show-worthy, but it all comes at an expensive price. Also, people who like to drive on open roads in a spirited way may not find the Act 3 to live up to their expectations. Bottom line, Act 3 makes sense to be shortlisted for those looking for a premium secondary car or EV, to take out when they don’t want to use their luxury sedan/SUV but still have conversations among their peers. However, considering the vehicle’s Chinese origins, we’re not sure where some of these conversations might be headed.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

GreenLeaf Tw2sl