Chevrolet Beat road test review

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Added in: Chevrolet

Chevrolet-Beat-front-three-quarters

Beat that!

 

Introduction
The Chevrolet Beat is often ignored by people who are looking to buy a modern, compact hatchback. I am ashamed to admit that even I used to belong to the group, before I reviewed the car exhaustively. A week with the car introduced me to some of its great virtues, which combined with its terrific pricing elevated its perception in my mind as one of the top-dogs in the new-age compact hatch segment. If you have been looking at buying a petrol hatchback, you need to take the Beat much more seriously than what you thought. Striken off the probables list by many only for being a Chevy, the Beat is actually a lot of car for its price. Let’s delve a bit deeper into the topic.

The Beat is the fruition of GM’s endeavour to stay relevant in the modern world where even the Americans have finally realized that gasoline isn’t just processed sea water. After the recent recession, the American drivers have somehow taken the pains to do some research and have come to understand that the fuel they had been burning with utter disdain for almost a century now, is extracted from beneath the earth, costs a lot of money, and will soon get exhausted. So while the people in GM’s motherland have sacrificed their 7-litre V10s for more obliging 4-litre V8s the rest of the world seems to have shifted to cars powered by miniscule engines covering 1.0-litre of space or thereabouts. And since it’s imperative to cater to the whole world to still be able to be termed a global carmaker, GM has come out with cars like the Beat to take the fight to the masters of Frugality – the Japanse, which are joined these days by the Koreans.

The Beat has been designed and developed by GM Daewoo based in South Korea, and is a ground up platform codenamed M300. The styling of the Beat was chosen by the popular poll which gave the voters a choice of three designs to pick their favourite from. And boy, what a design it is! Flip over for our comments on the Beat’s aesthetics

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Chevrolet Beat Introduction

Chevrolet Beat Design and Styling

Chevy Beat engine, transmission and performance

Chevy Beat interiors and features

Chevy Beat Ride quality, NVH and Handling

Chevy Beat – Summing it Up

Chevy Beat Specifications

Chevy Beat design and styling
The Beat is decidedly the funkiest small hatch in the Indian car market at this time. It may not have the evolved sophistication of the Polo, the oddball extremity of the Swift or the ‘dont offend anyone’ philosophy of the Figo, but it’s got a unique, vibrant and charming personality. The Beat doesn’t come across as just another car and refuses to go unnoticed. You may absolutely loathe it, but you cannot ignore it. It’s very youthful and fresh in its appeal and makes a strong case for itself to the young urban dwellers.

The most remarkable aspect of the beat’s exterior is its face. The bold twin-grille divided by a slat bearing the pretty Chevy bowtie in the middle looks imposing. The inner edges of the two grilles get a lining of chrome to add some element of class. The daunting face is further complemented by the huge, swept back headlamps which lend the front end of this car a rather masculine look. The flanks of the bonnet have been raised in the shape of a crest to give add some more to that chiseled muscle look. The big front bumper and the massive central air dam together complete the audacious, yet somehow inoffensive front look of the car.

The bold and somewhat brawny look continues its march to the car’s profile and to your heart. The prominent headlamp is visible almost in its entirety from the side – its darkened edges (a style element increasingly adopted by carmakers these days) adding some more panache to the whole design exercise. The car looks sporty with a sharply dropping roofline after driver’s seats. The front windows drop almost into the front fender to add a feeling of speed and motion. Front and rear windows together are slanted towards the sky, and taper towards the rear end of the car to add an element of dynamism. The pronounced wheel arches lend some more character to the front fender and the haunches. It’s a far cry from the look of your regulation hatchbacks, but to Chevy designers’ credit, manages to pull the act off in style.

It’s at the rear though that the Beat starts losing the essence of its aesthetic premise. The muscular lines give way for round and floral shapes, and while it doesn’t look bad per se, it doesn’t fit into the overall design theme either. There tail-lamps are round in shape and have been given an overdose of chrome around them. These lamps are surrounded in a housing which resembles a petal. Overall it looks okay, but we would have really relished seeing the masculine theme extending to the rear for a more harmonious overall design.
Overall, the Beat has got the pizzazz to turn heads wherever it goes. It’s bold but balanced. It’s a fresh, youthful design which you would never feel embarrassed to flaunt, which often is the case with such bold experiments in car design.

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Chevrolet Beat Introduction

Chevrolet Beat Design and Styling

Chevy Beat engine, transmission and performance

Chevy Beat interiors and features

Chevy Beat Ride quality, NVH and Handling

Chevy Beat – Summing it Up

Chevy Beat Specifications

Chevy Beat engine, transmission and performance
The Beat is powered by GM’s S-TEC II series of engines—a 4-cylinder, 16-valve 1199cc mill with a peak power output of 80.5PS@6200 rpm and peak torque of 108Nm@4400 rpm. This is the closest you get to the class leading power and torque figures of the Maruti Suzuki’s K12 engines which produce 85PS and 113Nm. Most people miss out on this bit, but the Beat has the most powerful engine of the lot in the new breed of 1.2-litre hatchbacks, next only to the MSIL’s K-series power plants (unless you wish to consider the Honda Jazz which is almost twice the price).

So how well does that power on the paper translate onto the road? Well, the Beat isn’t exactly a crackerjack of a car, but it does command respect in its immediate petrol neighbourhood inhabited by the likes of its compatriot Mr Figo, Mr Polo who is a German and Mr. Punto who is a handsome Italian. With a 0-100km/h sprint timing that hovers around the 15s mark, the Beat is slower only than the Swift and the Ritz 1.2 petrols, which share the same engine. It gets off the mark neatly, and builds the momentum without showing any worrisome signs of lethargy as long as you keep working with the gear shifter. The engine noise, which is a bit of a bother as you build rpms, gets surprisingly pronounced after 4500 rpm, intrudes the cabin freely, and doesn’t inspire you much to keep the throttle floored. Somewhere around the 5000 mark, the engine also shows some signs of reluctance if you hold on to the same gear, and calls for a shift. The revs build up nicely after 3000 rpm though, after which power flows through rather freely lending the Beat a rather nimble quartet of feet.

We didn’t face any notable issues within the city as regards driveability, although there are cars which have a better lower end torque and power delivery. The five-speed transmission system presents itself in the form of a relatively long-throw stick which is positioned slightly behind the ideal position for our liking. It’s adequately smooth to not annoy you, but nowhere close to the slick shift action of the Swift of the Honda Jazz. The Beat’s shifter is slightly notchy, nothing much to complain about though. If you have been driving for a fair bit, you would not find it worrisome at all. It’d have been better had the cute Chevy matched up with the best in class though.
All in all, it’s a good engine, mated with an average transmission. It’s a tad noisy and lacks the outright refinement that is a sought in a small city car like this. The acceleration and top speed performance is largely above the class average – which is a great thing, made even more impressive by the fact that it has the class-leading ARAI certified fuel efficiency figure of 18.6km/l.

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Chevrolet Beat Introduction

Chevrolet Beat Design and Styling

Chevy Beat engine, transmission and performance

Chevy Beat interiors and features

Chevy Beat Ride quality, NVH and Handling

Chevy Beat – Summing it Up

Chevy Beat Specifications

Chevy Beat interiors and features

The beat welcomes you with some of the snazziest interior in its class when you first enter it. Having not experienced it in person before, I was pleasantly surprised to see the modern design which is a relieving departure from the boring regulation interiors, hard to tell from model to model. The Beat has a dual deck cascading dashboard design, somewhat similar to its bigger sibling, the Cruze. GM has made interesting use of a glossy black colored plastic material for inserts on the dashboard and on the door panels to add a touch of sophistication to the otherwise funky cabin. We must say, it’s an innovative thought and not only does it look nice but also gives the Beat’s cabin its own unique personality.

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Chevrolet Beat Introduction

Chevrolet Beat Design and Styling

Chevy Beat engine, transmission and performance

Chevy Beat interiors and features

Chevy Beat Ride quality, NVH and Handling

Chevy Beat – Summing it Up

Chevy Beat Specifications

The Speedo-tacho combo too is a one of a kind unit. While the analogue Speedo is housed within a regulation barrel, to its right you have a space-age tacho cum digital Muti-information display. Trapezoidal in shape and done in a neat aluminium finish, the digital display unit has large black recesses, some of which are information lights as well. It looks damn cool when lit up, and invariably makes people who see it for the first time say nice things about it. Some may think of it as too toy-ish and wouldn’t probably want such a thing in their car, but they would find it to be novel and interesting nonetheless. Unfortunately the digital MID doesn’t have a distance to dry or average fuel consumption display. Most new cars have that functionality, and it’s pretty handy too. With that sort of a funky display, we wish the Beat too had it.

In the centre you have a nicely sorted out centre console with an integrated audio system. Easy to access and easy to understand with large knobs for convenient operation while driving. The top of the line LT variant comes with an integrated climate control system, which has a separate display unit for it, and looks rather cool with its bright blue colour peeping through the black polycarbonate screen. The three spoke steering wheel with its aluminium finish spokes looks very upmarket, is tilt adjustable, and brings the speedo and tacho units down along with it as you tilt it down. We wouldn’t have minded steering wheel mounted audio controls for such a jazzy cabin. The quality of plastics is generally quite high – the Beat would surprise you with its interior quality and top-notch finish if you have not experienced it earlier.

The dashboard is expansive, and is done up in a single colour. It’s relatively high and covers a huge area, giving the beat’s cockpit the feel of a big car. Although, the relatively high position of the dash isn’t very conducive for the visibility of the road ahead, and should bother short drivers a little bit. There are cubbyholes all around including a small recess above the medium sized glove box, one Kangaroo-like pocket under the centre console, a small tray below it, two cup holders behind the tray, and then there is place to hold a one-litre bottle each in the door map-pockets. For people whose thirst won’t be quenched even with that many bottles, there is another space for one right behind the hand brake. For other things, there is small coin cup on the right hand side of the steering wheel, a glares compartment above the door on the driver’s side and a small place above the centre console to put your wallet or cellphone. There is a fake sensor at the end of the dashboard towards the windscreen, which may get you intrigued – doesn’t serve any purpose though.

The front seats of the Beat are supportive and comfortably firm, if a little narrow. I have been putting on a bit of weight of late, but still am not too huge. I could feel my behind almost covering the bolstering at the bottom. Slightly wider seats would have been better.

There is sufficient space at the rear too, as regards legroom. The Beat doesn’t feel cramped in terms of knee-room, but the small size of the rear window makes the cabin look very gloomy, dark, and cramped. Even the width of the rear bench isn’t too appreciable, and it’s next to impossible to seat three in the backseat. The seats are comfortable though, and are done in good quality fabric, which doesn’t look dirty even after taking a lot of abuse.

The Beat’s cabin is sure to throw a pleasant surprise at you if you have not seen it before. Just like the exterior, the interior too is funky, has a character of its own and refuses to lose its identity in a swarm of functional, faceless cabins. The good thing is that even after being bold and experimental in terms of aesthetics, the beat’s cabin remains highly functional and ergonomic.

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Chevrolet Beat Introduction

Chevrolet Beat Design and Styling

Chevy Beat engine, transmission and performance

Chevy Beat interiors and features

Chevy Beat Ride quality, NVH and Handling

Chevy Beat – Summing it Up

Chevy Beat Specifications

Chevy Beat Ride quality, NVH and Handling

The Beat employs the popular McPherson Strut suspension setup up front and a compound link type suspension at the rear. Now, the first thing that you would want from a car like the Beat, which is primarily going to potter around in the city is comfort. And the Beat delivers a pliant and composed ride which is substantially superior to the wobbly and thuddy ride quality of the entry level small car. However, things like ride quality are difficult to measure. There is hardly a quantifiable means to measure the quality of ride. You can do with references though, and for me, the ride quality of the Ford Figo is by far the best in this class. The Beat is still some distance away from attaining the impeccable composure of the Figo, but offers a comfortably pliant ride nonetheless. I definitely didn’t find the suspension to be squashy, although a few of my journalists, going by their views in their respective articles would probably differ. I think that the Beat’s ride is slightly on the stiffer side when compared with the other cars in the segment, which make the rear a wee bit bouncy. There isn’t anything to worry about though, as it still offers above class-average ride quality.
The engine noise intrudes the cabin. The NVH level in the cabin, even with the thick NVH insulators under the bonnet isn’t the best in this category. As you climb up the rev range the noise increases progressively, and by the time you reach the 5000 mark, you feel like releasing the throttle so as to ease the engine a bit.

Climbing into the driver’s seat, you realize that you are sitting high up with a good view of the road. The dash is rather high too, which may be a bit of bother for short people as there is no driver side seat height adjustment option. Ladies too may have a bit of an issue keeping the immediate patch of road in view if they are 5 feet or thereabouts. The steering wheel is nice to hold, although once on the move you realize that it isn’t really the smoothest unit. Also, you somewhat crave for some feedback from the three-spoke unit, although the car maintains its poise rather impressively and changes lanes without any wobble or drama. I drove the car primarily within the city and in dry conditions, so the 165/70 R14 tyres weren’t much of an issue. But I am sure that while driving on slippery roads or while climbing up or rolling down a ghat enthusiastically some more rubber around the wheels won’t hurt.
There is a fair bit of body roll around the corners, and a lack of communication from steering doesn’t inspire you much to push the car hard around the corners. The remaining desire to play is taken care of by the noise of the engine. So essentially the Beat isn’t your car if you are one of those who like scaring their back bencher family around corners. However, to think that these 1.2 litre sub-90bhp cars were ever designed to entice you around the race track would be foolish. The Beat does it job of hauling you around comfortably in a splendid manner, and you are no real reasons to complain unless your conceited self has started thinking of itself as a cousin of Sebastian Loeb.

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Chevrolet Beat Introduction

Chevrolet Beat Design and Styling

Chevy Beat engine, transmission and performance

Chevy Beat interiors and features

Chevy Beat Ride quality, NVH and Handling

Chevy Beat – Summing it Up

Chevy Beat Specifications

Summing it up
Well, if this were to be a decision to be made by looking at the spec sheets, performance figures and price, the Beat would have been the only obvious choice in its segment. The Beat gives you a knockout bang for your buck, fusing great styling with a potent engine, great interiors, a plush ride, a bagful of freebies thrown in, and at a price which is by far the lowest in its class. To top all that, the car also boasts the best ARAI certified fuel efficiency in its class. Taking all those points into account, the Beat really makes a very, very strong case for itself in the B-segment. On the negative side, it feels cramped and claustrophic at the backseat, the engine is noisy at high rpms, the steering doesn’t have enough feedback to make you get playful and there is a fair bit of body roll too. But if your commute is primarily confined to the urbanscape, we don’t think you need to bother much about those shortcomings.  The Beat is a fabulous car which delivers on every count without any compromises and still saves you a substantial sum of money. We strongly recommend you have a look at this car before making your final buying decision in this segment.

Upsides

Terrific value for money
Funky exterior and interior styling
Great cabin layout and plastics quality, funky speedo-odo
Good performance
Good fuel efficiency
Supportive seats
Good ride quality
3-year maintenance free offer from Chevrolet

Downsides
Engine noise
Gearshifter position and slightly rough shift action leaves something to be desired
Dark and claustrophobic back bench
Audio quality average at best
155/70 R14 (165 on top end) tyres not grippy enough
Compact 170 liter boot, considerably smaller than competition
The little big things
Knee strikes against the AC temperature control, temperature increases / decreases inadvertently
Passenger side front foot well is very comfortable. The passenger can extend his feet really far, and without the glove compartment hitting his shins
Door handles for the rear door placed vertically beside the window glass. Takes a moment for newbies to figure
You don’t get an alloy wheel as the spare wheel
Eight colours to choose from – Linen Beige, Cocktail Green, Super Red, Caviar Black, Misty lake, Moroccan Blue, Olympic White, Sanddrift Grey
Chevrolet recommends 32 Psi, 2-3 more than regular for more fuel efficiency
ORVMs fold in the opposite direction as well to prevent breakage in case someone bumps into them
3 variants : The 1.2, 1.2 LS and 1.2 LT. Airbags + ABS are part of an option pack

Go to next page to continue reading review,

or click below to read specific sections


Chevrolet Beat Introduction

Chevrolet Beat Design and Styling

Chevy Beat engine, transmission and performance

Chevy Beat interiors and features

Chevy Beat Ride quality, NVH and Handling

Chevy Beat – Summing it Up

Chevy Beat Specifications

Chevrolet Beat Specifications
•    Engine: 1199cc, 16V, DOHC
•    Power: 79 bhp @ 6200 rpm
•    Torque: 108Nm @ 4400 rpm
•    Transmission: 5 speed manual
•    Top Speed: 155kmph (estimated)

•    Suspension: Mcpherson Struts (Front) Compound link type (Rear)
•    Tires: 155/70/14 Tubeless Radials

Chevy Beat Performance

•    0-100kmph: 15.0 seconds (estimated)
•    Fuel Efficiency: 18.6 kmpl (ARAI certified)

Safety

•    Brakes: Ventilated Disc (Front), Drums (Rear), ABS, EBD
•    Safety: ABS, EBD, Dual SRS Front Airbags
•    EURO NCAP Rating:     4 Stars
Chevrolet Beat Dimensions
•    Length x width x height: 3640mm X 1595mm X 1520mm
•    Wheelbase: 2375mm
•    Ground clearance: 165mm
•    Boot Volume: 170 liters
•    Fuel Tank Capacity: 35 litres
•    Kerb Weight: 965kg

Click below to read specific sections

Chevrolet Beat Introduction

Chevrolet Beat Design and Styling

Chevy Beat engine, transmission and performance

Chevy Beat interiors and features

Chevy Beat Ride quality, NVH and Handling

Chevy Beat – Summing it Up

Chevy Beat Specifications

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