BYD M3e Review
Practically No Nonsense

James Wong
8 Dec 2020
 

"The M3e occupies a niche in which there is no competition currently."

BYD cars are more commonly seen on our roads as taxis in the form of the e6. Non-descript and virtually anonymous, they are easily forgotten but one only needs to look at the share price of BYD to realise how big a deal the company is now. They are more famous as a supplier of batteries, but it is now trying to build itself a niche in the form of the M3e, which is Singapore’s first fully electric 7-seater MPV. Whether being first is a boon or bane is something we will find out.

Essentially based on a commercial vehicle chassis, the M3e does not hide its underpinnings nor give any attempt to. The exterior looks like a van that had its cargo area reconfigured to add windows. Because of the upright design of the M3e, there is a huge glasshouse and the view out is akin to being in a small bus. Overall, it is not fashionable or good looking, but it is functional. 

So are the sliding doors, but they are heavy, manually operated and take a huge shove to close properly (E-Auto is planning to retrofit powered sliding doors). The rear hatch is so large that you cannot even open it more than halfway in a typical HDB car park. Overall, BYD managed to make a car that can slip into traffic unnoticed with even more capability than the e6.

On a 6.6 kW AC home charger, the M3e will take 7.2 hours to be fully charged; on a more powerful 40 kW DC charger more likely to be in a public area, it takes 1.3 hours.

Inside

Adjusting your perspective that this is primarily a commercial vehicle and then a passenger one certainly helps. Hard plastics abound, and there is something definitely lost in translation in the onboard computer’s readouts (e.g. “Started, Can go to D shift and run”). You need to ‘step up’ to enter the car for it rides very high. There is no flair at all in the overall execution – the brief seemed to focus on pure functionality.

On the plus side, the seats are fairly comfortable and are arranged in three rows that can shift forwards or backwards. Legroom and headroom is generous. However, luggage area can be limited as the last row takes up a fair amount of space if you use all 7 seats.

The Drive

True to most EVs, the M3e has a responsive drivetrain that will give instantaneous torque to the tune of 180 Nm. The throttle pedal feels like it has a sponge below it though, so don’t expect it to feel fast at all. That said, it would easily rival any 1.4L turbo MPVs out there for acceleration. Its fuel economy readout is also one of the most accurate I have come across, allowing a range of around 300km which is useful.

Those kilometres will pass by quite dully, though, and maybe even jarringly. The steering is totally devoid of feel – just as well that the top speed is 100km/h, otherwise it may feel unsafe. The rear leaf spring, non-independent suspension is terrifically harsh, offering hardly any damping. With a lethal combination of rough and uneven surfaces, one passenger commented that it felt like turbulence on an airplane.

For its size and weight, the car actually doesn’t feel too unwieldly. The view from the driver’s seat is excellent and you tend to tower over most other cars.

Our Thoughts

The M3e occupies a niche in which there is no competition currently. It has the advantage of being a first mover, but you do have to live with many consequences if you really wanted this combination. It would be hard to recommend the M3e, but given its price, it may be seen as quite a bargain. Do check if you can live with it first though before committing.

In Summary

We Like

It’s cheap and it’s electric, which are two things that usually don’t go together.

We Don't

It’s not very good. It is left wanting in many areas as a passenger car, in terms of comfort, features and build quality.

Verdict

Buy it only if you really like it after a test drive.

Car Loan Calculator - BYD M3e (A)

SGD 112,888 (21 Jan 2021)

This car is eligible for minimum 40% down payment

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Engine

Engine Type Inline 4
Torque 180Nm

Performance

Misc Technical Data

Drive Type FF
Steering Electric

Measurements

Body Type MPV
Dimension
(L x W x H)
(4460 x 1720 x 1875) mm
Wheelbase 2725 mm
Turning Circle 11.5 metres
Kerb Weight 1780 kg

Brakes

Brakes (Front) Discs
Brakes (Rear) Discs