As sexy to look at as ever, and now even more practical with a diesel engine – the Chevrolet Beat is finally going to battle against the long established players. Here is our Chevrolet Beat Review to find out how good or bad it is.
As a kid, I was quite useless when it came to sketching and arty stuff. I was never good with handling paint brushes or pencils and drawing sheets. That meant, no matter how deeply I was inclined towards the world of automobiles, I couldn’t draw the shape of my dream car. I had it clearly outlined in my mind – it was a combination of a lot of cars. The AC Cobra, Aston V8 Vantage of 1977, Lambo Miura, many Jaguars, and quite a few Ferraris – they all captured my imagination, and my dream car was inspired by each one of them. It looked beautiful – in my mind. But the moment I’d get down to draw it on a sheet of paper, it would take the shape of something that even I would refuse to claim as my own handiwork.
Thankfully, not all kids are as pathetic as me. Some of my friends created brilliant stuff, and I’d ogle at them for hours. More recently, my 7 year-old niece randomly sketched me the shape of a car, and, I must say, it was pretty damn impressive – especially considering that it was made by a small girl with little or no fascination towards cars. Kids draw wild things because there’s nothing that curbs their imagination. The Chevrolet Beat also looks like it was an effort of a 10 year old while he or she were watching a sci-fi flick. The Beat was first shown back in 2006 during the LA Auto Show, alongside two more concepts – the Traxx and Groove. The public was then asked to vote for which design they liked the best, and the Beat came out on top.
Design is the Beat’s trump card, and it truly looks fascinating. The styling is sharp and edgy. The cabin, too, pulls off the eccentric theme with great confidence. The Honda Civic’s interior has enjoyed the tag of ‘super cool’ till now, but with the Beat’s column mounted LED backlit analogue speedo and LCD digital rev counter, the Civic will have to share that tag. The Chevy Beat looked rather chic during our Chevrolet Beat Review, and had an interior to awaken the infant inside and make you giggle with happiness. And now, it has a diesel engine to keep the practical grown up accountant inside you happy too.
I didn’t much care for it though. Good thing that Sumant from HT and Rajkumar from PTI made for great company, as we enjoyed our time driving the Chevrolet Beat. There were a lot of laughs, amid analysis of the industry. Three grown up lads, and their bags – that was quite a bit for the Chevrolet Beat to accommodate as we drove it around for our Chevrolet Beat Review. So nothing much has changed on the comfort front. The Chevrolet Beat still has space enough for four guys – only just. And the suspension offers a cushy ride for most part. But that wasn’t why we were invited to Goa by GM. We were there to sample the 1.0 litre, 3-cylinder diesel engine.
Numbers first – 936cc, 56bhp and 150Nm of torque. These were not really high enough to get me aroused, but I remained patient. Perhaps a drive would force me to change my mind? The route was fairly straight-ish and, though we encountered a couple of stretches to mash the throttle, we didn’t get any twisty sections to really see how the Beat drives. I must say, when it was launched, I was expecting a lot from it. It looked the part, and could’ve been the perfect hot hatch. But apart from the looks, it didn’t deliver. I always believed that the Chevrolet Beat ought to have been given some serious performance mods to give it the ‘go’ to match the ‘show.’ And, with the diesel, I was expecting GM to give it a motor worthy of challenging the Swift’s 1.3 affair, or, even better, the 90bhp Punto’s unit. As it turned out, I was wishing for the skies. The 1.0 litre engine is the most modest diesel that I’ve ever driven. Sure, GM says it’s got the best specific power rating of 62bhp/litre, but, truth be told, the engine is almost lifeless below 1,600 revs, and mostly emotionless even when you give it the stick. It takes a lifetime to get it moving at a fair pace.
Once we reached the second pit stop, we decided to explore the area for some locations for photography. And that led us to a very curvy section of tarmac. Now, why would the drive be restricted to the section just before this beautiful stretch of road? The steering, though artificial in feel, was good enough to make immediate direction changes. The soft suspension makes things a bit nervous, and there is substantial amount of body roll, but make use of some deft inputs, including left-foot-braking, and you’ll experience a gain in traction – allowing you to carry more speed with confidence. And, after experiencing the lack of grunt lower down the revs, I was delighted by the more-than-acceptable mid-range. But that doesn’t mean you can shift down and dismiss a slow moving car in front of you. Overtaking is not an act of thinking – it is a calculated exercise, and you’re best advised to start calculating well in advance!
Our Government’s sense of humour towards middle class families is noteworthy – fuel prices are aiming towards outer space. And that’s where the diesel version of the Beat comes in – to cater to the band of customers who want a chic car that’s also affordable to run. But, I like my cars to give me some element of enthusiasm – fuel notwithstanding. Agreed, I have a fetish for petrol engines, but I adore the Punto 90hp, and even the Swift diesel – and the Micra isn’t bad either. The Chevrolet Beat diesel? Well, it doesn’t rival the Indica and Punto for space, and the engine isn’t really as exciting as that of the Swift or Micra. It also sounds rough. But, at 4.29 lakhs for the base version, and 5.45 lakhs for the top end with options, the Chevrolet Beat sure has nailed it on one important front.
Meanwhile, I’ll still keep the hopes of the kid inside me alive, and wait for GM to give us 20 more horsepower in the same car – not to mention also stiffen the suspension up a little bit. That would make it a proper hot hatch – and that’s what’s needed. Pray along with me…
CHEVROLET BEAT TCDi
Engine 936cc / 3 cylinders / 12 valves / DOHC / Common Rail Direct Injection
Transmission 5-speed Manual / Front-wheel drive
Power 56bhp @ 4000rpm
Torque 150Nm @ 1750rpm
Price Rs.4.29 – 5.45 lakhs (Ex-showroom, Delhi)
Looks sharp enough to make you bleed. Goes slow enough to make you bleed.