Come to think of it. If diesel variant of the Vista were to be announced at the price of the Indica eV2, there is no looking back for Tata Motors. The company has got it spot on with the Vista, be it ergonomics, the engine or even equipment. However the new face-lift has definitely diluted the look of the car. We personally didn’t like the Manza’s face and neither do we appreciate the new face of the Vista. So that leaves two stylish entry level diesel cars to slug it out and those are the Chevrolet Beat TDCI in India and the Ford Figo TDCI in India. The former would anytime win beauty contests but it’s the latter which is the more prevalent kind of things when it comes to safe design tactics. We pitted both the rivals from North America to see who wins the entry level diesel war in the hatchback segment. This comparison achieves some significance especially so with the prices of petrol rising by Rs 3.14/ liter.
The youth would definitely be attracted to the Chevrolet Beat. With its very futuristic looks, the Beat is the one to go for. Its pointed nose and also the roof rails definitely make the cut for any buyer. Even though its being around here for some time, this car hasn’t shown any sign of ageing. Infact the Ford Figo looked dated from the time it was launched. Infact, its similar looks like the erstwhile Fusion means that this vehicle has become ubiquitous. Ford designers have mated both the old and new design cues to this one. The front end is inspired by the Ford Kinetic design philosophy while the rear makes do with Christmas tree like tail lamps. Since we tested the top end versions of both the cars, the tyre size was also notably up from the base variants. The Beat diesel was sporting 165/65 R14 alloy wheels while the Ford Figo diesel came with wider 175/65 R14 (wheel caps). The rear portion of the Beat looks far more better than the Figo with the partly masked tail lamps and stuff. Both the cars come plastic tack ons wrapping the rear bumper.
The Figo is the more mature design while the Beat is the fresh design package in the market.
The Ford Figo TDCI in India borrows heavily from the Fiesta Classic as far as the interiors go. While the meter dials are the only change which would make you think otherwise, the other details would immediately remind you of it. The steering wheel, the wiper stalks, the indicators and the power window switches are all the same. Even the gear lever is the same. Ford offers the coral hued dashboard theme or even the normal one, depending on the choice of the buyer. The meter dials comprise of a tachometer and also speedometer with a small multi information display showing up the fuel counter as also the other details. Cut to the Beat, it has got a motorcycle inspired instrument cluster and really stands out. However, on the move, its quite difficult to understand this instrument cluster. The icy blue backlighting for this one is also very cool. The Beat gets an auto climate control and USB enabled music system. The Ford in the meanwhile gets a manual AC and front power windows. The Beat has good space in the front and so does the Ford. Its only towards the rear that the differences start showing up. The Beat doesn’t feel much spacious here and for the taller ones, underthigh support is one lacking factor. For the Figo, its not a problem. Its wider than the Beat and hence can seat 3 easily. However, for the same taller passenger, the head room would be a bit of constraint. The Beat seems a bit more claustrophobic at the rear due to its high set window line. Boot space for the Figo is a tad more than the Beat.
If it’s the comfort factor that is primary, then there is nothing better than the Figo. If its uber cool style and the elements, then it’s the Beat.
Handling and ride quality
The suspension layout of both the cars is similar. Both employ twist beams at the rear and MacPherson struts in the front. The shock absorbers are gas charged for the Beat while the Ford one makes do with conventional shock absorbers with oil in them. The Beat’s suspension is tuned more towards the softer side and this makes a lot of difference in the ride quality. While the earlier petrol Beat may be a bit fidgety, the diesel one seems very good at handling the bumps and stuff. The Beat diesel gets an electronic steering wheel which feels nice to operate and is also more linear as also direct. However, the Figo diesel has got the best of both the worlds. It has a nice steering wheel which communicates well with the driver and has also got a suspension setup which is more tuned towards the handling aspect. The Figo diesel handles like a dream and the ride quality is also not so far off the mark. The handling for the Beat can be termed as safe since it doesn’t prefer corners too much. As far as the noise factor is concerned, both the engines are really quiet ones and this inspite of the Beat diesel running a 3 cylinder engine setup. Both the cars have a nice braking setup and they come with ABS on the top end versions.
Engine, performance and fuel efficiency
The Beat diesel currently has the smallest diesel capacity engine available in India. GM India have done a lot of work in making this MJD derived engine as the benchmark for its class. The Beat diesel makes 57 Bhp of power and 150 Nm of torque. It is aligned with a 5 speed manual gearbox. The Ford Figo diesel utilizes the same engine as the Ford Fiesta Classic and this 1.4 liter mill boasts of 67 Bhp power and 160 Nm torque. It is also aligned to a 5 speed manual transmission. Off the line, both the cars have similar timings for the 0-100 kmph run. Infact, the Ford with its capacity displacement still lags behind by 0.3 seconds. For the numbers, the 0-100 kmph dash is done in an approximate 19 seconds in both the cars. The Ford’s mill is the one which is more tractable and is more at ease in 3rd gear with high traffic conditions. The Beat’s mill is also no slouch when it comes to in-gear roll-on figures. Top speed recorded on the Beat diesel is a bit more than what the Figo could afford. The Beat diesel’s top speed stands at 153 kmph while the Ford Figo diesel’s top speed was 151 kmph. Both the cars feel stable at high speeds, however it’s the Figo which delivers a bit more of poise.
On the fuel efficiency part, the smaller capacity Beat diesel gains the advantage. ARAI rates its fuel efficiency at 24 kmpl while for the Ford Figo diesel, it is 20.0 kmpl. On our real world tests, we obtained an overall 18 kmpl on the Beat diesel and 16.4 kmpl with the Figo diesel.
It’s a no brainer actually. If you like the Beat for its design and the various other things that it has by the way of creature comforts, then it makes sense. Moreover if one is single then the Beat diesel makes more sense. Its fuel efficiency is also the best in class while GM’s 3 years or 1 lakh kms whichever is earlier warranty period is unparalleled so far. The Figo diesel on the other hand is the one for small families. Its spacious and frugal at the pumps. Its warranty period runs into 2 years or 1 lakh kms whichever is earlier. It is said that GM’s overall aftersales is far better than Ford’s. So people looking to buy a GM car needn’t worry since there are more of positive reports about the authorized service centers. At the same time, the Ford’s dealerships have also cleaned up their acts and are now more responsive towards the customer’s needs. Now comes the pricing. Ford shocked everyone when they announced the prices of the Figo diesel in March 2010 and a few months back, it was GM who surprised everyone with the prices of Beat diesel. The Chevrolet Beat diesel price in India starts from Rs 4.29 lakhs while the top end one goes for Rs 5.48 lakhs. The Ford Figo diesel price in India starts from Rs 4.47 lakhs and goes upto Rs 5.79 lakhs. All these prices are ex-show room, Thane.