Chevrolet Beat in India, beat the clock

')">Now, just freshly done with the Chevrolet Cruze, the very next day, my demand was for a funky green Chevrolet Beat. Now, this funky car has been around for quite a long time and I have been a fan of its styling ever since I saw it at a certain auto show. It looked like a 2 door car with the back door handles hidden in the C pillars. Nevertheless, this may be the first time that I am awaiting a car in our office driveway. It always has been the other way round with the PR person from the company coming to our office upstairs and then delivering the keys to the receptionist along with completing the formalities. Not so anymore, I wanted to wrench away the keys of the slimy alien from its owner, the moment I saw it entering the office parking lot. The poor PR fellow was flummoxed when he saw a 6 footer greeting him with a wry smile and give me the keys attitude. Paperwork completed, time to visit the nearby fuel station and tank up the car. I am out for a spin and here is a recount of the proceedings: Check on Road Price

Looks

The car that made its debut in the Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen movie, this is really star studded. Known as the Chevrolet Spark in North America, this car was designed to be youthful, appealing and fun to drive. The Chevrolet Beat in India does exactly that. That wide face which has now translated to been a family one, with the Chevrolet Cruze does have many fans. From the back of the hood to the front fascia, the big head lamps do stretch out. Adding an up scale image is the chrome coated bezels. The Chevy bowtie does sit proudly atop the rump of a front side. The front fog lamps also look classy. What caught my fancy was that General Motors India stood true with their design concept. From the side profile, the car looks somewhat similar to the Maruti Ritz and also the Hyundai I10 to a certain extent.

The blacked out window frames are also gainly and contribute to the overall funky look. The sporty 14 inch alloy wheels look alluring to say the least. Ohh, the alloy wheels are only available on the top of the line Chevrolet Beat LTZ variant. The others, lower down, get 14 inch steel wheels. Silver roof rails also go with the mean part of this car.

Move over to the back side of this car and it has an integrated spoiler, single wiper and also clear lens crystalloid tail lamps. The bumper is also neatly integrated with the rest of the car.

Interiors

Well, for a lanky person like me, getting into the interiors of the Chevrolet Beat in India was a bit of task. It has a high seating arrangement which somehow helps in matters of seating though. Finally after getting into a comfortable position by adjusting the tilt adjustable steering column, I could look around the cabin. Yes, nothing much has changed even on the inside from the concept car that was shown at the auto show. The instrument cluster is the first thing that would catch any eyes. It is inspired from some of the motorcycles. I personally think it to be inspired from one of those international Honda motorcycles. The seats are adjustable for lumbar support even. However for taller passengers, the sort of protruding dashboard interferes with the knee. I wish it should have a stop start button instead of the usual twist key ignition. It would have made it look a lot more cooler. The use of glossy black inserts in the cabin acctenuates the sporty theme. The large volume knobs for the single CD/FM player are clearly laid out. However a single CD player in this age is of no use and even the sound quality is not that good. There are many cup holders as well. The automatic climate control also works very well. There are defoggers and also a recirculation mode. The instrument cluster does deserve its fair share of appreciation in the fact that there is none like it in the market as of now. However put in a quick glance and this definitely turns into confusion. Evenings are always a pleasure time with the Chevrolet Beat since the icy blue lighting for the backlit switches gells well with the car’s “youth” theme.

The back seat is a place wherein only 4 would be comfortable. The tall boy design does liberate lots of head room however the leg room is found lacking. It is strictly okay for a 6 footer. The boot space is only 253 liters however it’s sufficient enough for a weekend trip. The rear seats do flip in the 60:40 pattern and this helps when one has to carry heavy loads.

Handling and ride quality

The Chevrolet Beat in India is based on the Global Product Development process by General Motors. It has the Body Frame Integral system( BFI) in which the frame and upper body are pinned as a single unit. This gives the car an enhanced sense of stability and firmness. This means more driver involvement. This is all Chevrolet speak and not mine.

For the better part, I felt that inspite of its taller dimensions, the Chevrolet Beat does handle very well. Don’t mistake me, it does roll a but but then it was never meant to be a race car or go around a race track. It’s only drawback is the thin tyres that it comes shod with. The 155/70 R14 doesn’t have enough grip. For a normal ride, it is okay but then enthusiastic cornering as one would expect from a BMW, would be too much. It is just off the benchmark set by the Maruti Swift. It has 165 mm of ground clearance.

For the ride quality, the small Chevy is very much upto the task. It absorbs all the bumps thrown at its way at city speeds. Once on the highway however due to the tall boy structure, bumps do filter in and the car sometimes(mind you, only sometimes, feels as if it gets affected by cross winds). It sports a segment first, special underbody structure that prevents the noise inflow from outside as well as triple acoustic absorbent structure. This leads to a very quiet cabin. Only after triple digit speeds was there a slight wind noise but not too much irritating. The steering is also light and agile for city use but was devoid of some feel out on the highway.

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Engine, performance and fuel efficiency

The Chevrolet Beat in India is blessed with 16 valve, 4 cylinder, DOHC engine which makes 80 Bhp of peak power @ 6200 rpm and about 108 Nm of torque at 4500 rpm. Variable intake geometry system also assists this car and hence it feels sprightly to drive. The gearing is spot on however the same cannot be said for the gearshift. It does feel rubbery and sometimes the transition from 3rd to 4th doesn’t seem to have happened. This reminds me of the gearshift in a Bajaj Caliber model wherein I used to hunt for the proverbial 5th gear where there wasn’t any. The car raced from 0-100 kmph in just under 15 seconds. Not earth shattering figures. The top speed I could muster on this car was 158 kmph, good enough for a small hatchback. The good thing is that the car nevers feel strained while doing all these top speed runs. It is a free revving motor.

Braking has been also given importance in the Chevrolet Beat. The car has discs at the front and drums at the rear. Brake pedal feel is more at ease at city speeds whereas highway speeds need more prodding on the pedal to stop the car. There is ABS along with EBD to provide for the stopping prowess. Safety is also tended in the Chevrolet Beat LTZ variant with the car having 2 air bags, collapsible steering wheel, 3 point seat belts and side intrusion beams.

Fuel efficiency is said to be the USP of this car however I found it to be as efficient as its competitors. The S-tec engine returned 14.4 kmpl in the city cycle whereas the highway jaunt made this figure rise to 18.3 kmpl. This testing was done with the AC on at all the times. The worst figure that I achieved with lots of acceleration and brake pedal use was still good at 9.6 kmpl.

Verdict

The Chevrolet Beat in India is an all important product for General Motors. The company realizes that in order to capture a pie from the Indian markets, they would have to go all out in the small car segment. The Chevrolet Spark is selling in big numbers in the small car segment and the Chevrolet Beat would only complement this numbers. It has the funky looks, space age interiors, optimum space and also fuel efficient engine. It would be getting a new CNG option as well as a diesel motors under its hood sometimes later this year. The best part is like all of Chevrolet’s products, even this one is offered at a substantially lower price than its competition. The Chevrolet Beat price i.e the Chevrolet Beat PS is Rs. 3,35,000.00 which goes upto Rs 4,35,000.00 for the Chevrolet Beat LTZ (both ex-show room, Mumbai). In all there are 4 variants of this car as of now.

Technical specifications of the Chevrolet Beat LTZ

Displacement: 1199cc, 4 Cylinder, 16V DOHC
Engine Type: Petrol
Maximum Power: 80 Bhp @ 6200 rpm
Maximum Torque: 108 Nm @ 4500 rpm
Length: 3650 mm
Width: 1596 mm
Height: 1530 mm
Tyre Size: 155/70 R14
Suspension: McPherson Strut, Compound Link Type
Steering: Hydraulic power assisted with Tilt function
Brakes: Front Disc, Rear Drum
Gears: 5 speed Manual
Ground Clearance: 165.00 mm
Seating Capacity: 5
Kerb Weight: 965.00 kgs.
Fuel Tank: 37.00

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