The Beat Diesel Test Drive
Though this review comes after a long while, it carries with it some salient points about the Chevrolet Beat which is now in an improved version with a diesel heart and much unlike its predecessor where some key areas are concerned. It was a sweltering hot winter afternoon in Bangalore when I decided to take up the test drive for this car. Briefly I will take you over with the process so you may understand this car all the way from the dealership perspective upto the drive itself.
Firstly and interestingly a google search for Chevy dealers in Bangalore throws up only three results which are shown below:
Kropex India Ltd
Address:49/1 Singasandara, Hosur Main Road, Bangalore.,
Bangalore, Karnataka, 560068
Phone: 080-43574357 / 09663388830 / 9663388812
Address:P.B.No 5358,107, Kasturba Road, Bangalore.,
Bangalore, Karnataka, 560001
Phone: 080 - 22070709 - 13 / 22070751 - 3 / 9880631313
Address:No.122/1, C. Shankar Reddy Layout, Kalyan Nagar Outer Ring Road, Bangalore.,
Bangalore, Karnataka, 560043
Phone: 080- 43430500
Upon visiting Kasturba road for a different reason which i will come to in a different post, I found that the Sundaram GM dealership was under lock and key and they seemed to have moved elsewhere. While I did not care to check, I also knew the Outer Ring Road showroom was a mere showroom of a very small size without any servicing options. I do remember there was one on Mahadevapura Main Road leading to whitefield, but it was somehow conspiciously missing from out here in this list above !! Since the Singasandra one was near my home, I reached there after informing apriori that I would be there.
Cars in the showroom
The showroom itself is impressive with an entire range of cars put up there under the Chevry Umbrella starting from the barebones Spark upto the Fully loaded Captiva. The Sail sedan and hatch are yet to make it even to showrooms as they were just recently showcased at the auto expo in Delhi.
A friendly supervisor let me meddle with all cars including the Cruze until the test drive itself was ready. One thing that struck me immediately was that all Chevy cars were low in seating much like yours truly Honda. Somehow I think these are not suitable with back problems for easy ingress/egress. The Beat thankfully was a bit more supportive of the driver if not necessarily the passenger.
(Image courtesy: www.chevrolet.co.in)
As we already know, the petrol Beat has been doing its rounds for a year or more now so many people already know the cockpit internals of the car along with a billion digital meters and displays. So its worthwhile just dwelling into the new diesel and outlining its good points and pitfalls. My test drive was about 3-4 kms which included great highway roads, congested city roads, broken gravel roads, ditches and road humps, curves and straight lines and some U-turns. This was a clear representation of what a test drive must be like. So how did the Beat Diesel perform? Read on!
- Steering: The steering is really sweet and assistive without complaining ever. Now you would know that its important to have a very good steering for both low and high speeds and the Beat simply has that.
- Footwell: This is an area where I have frequent issues, and car manufacturers also turn a blind eye to at times making it cramped and lousy to put your foot into. On longer journeys as well as congested city drives on bumper to bumper the footwell determines how bad you feel when you get down. I am happy to say the Beat has a great footwell with all pedals placed comfortably which causes minimal discomfort on the natural driving position and leg positioning. One more important factor to consider is the alignment of the pedals with respect to their height, and while its normal to have a recessed accelerator pedal, its NOT OK to have a raised clutch pedal. This is very common in the Polo/Vento which makes it very uncomfortable for tall people whose natural foot resting position gets changed due to the increased need to get your feet up due to pedal height. For longer drives this is a sure nightmare and the Beat thankfully does not have such pedal alignment. Simply put, a very comfortable footwell which adds to the already great steering.
- Interiors: This is a topic that everyone loves to discuss about and beat the dead horse over and over, but one has to understand that its upto personal tastes on what people want. I have personally found light biege or griege (dont know where they coined this word) interiors to suit sedans like sunny or city, while grey or black interiors to suit cars like the Beat or Swift. As I already said its a personal taste, as some people like the illusion of roominess that Beige creates while some others like their interiors to be as black as possible so the meters are visible and keep the driver focussed specifically at night times. The Beat comes with grey to mild black interiors which make it more like an engine cockpit at night on an airline. The already small windows only make this kind of seating feel even worse after some continuous drive. Nothing to disturb, but disappoints. A light gray combination would have worked in my opinion.
- Windows: This is where yours truly has a big big issue. The smaller the windows and the deeper the seating within, the worse it gets for the growing clan of claustrophobians or the set of people who feel lack of air, oxygen and feel asphyxiated. While the sedan class hatch is the new benchmark for roominess the Beat is the new benchmark for claustrophobia. No brownie points here in fact negative marks if possible. The styling has taken upper seat to miss out on something as important as a window. The rear window is ridiculously small and competes and wins against even swift who earlier held the master of claustrophobia title. Enough Said.
- Space: The front two seats are elaborate, deep set and provides great comfort, but if you are expecting similar things at the rear, prepare to get disappointed and also unsettled along the way as this car does not even have the space of a Wagon R. Alright, lets not try to make things sounds so bad, but this is strictly a car for 4 people. The fifth average Joe can decide to stay back at home please. And if you are really tall, while the headroom is not much of an issue this deep beauty can provide you, legroom is. Lots of mixing and matching of passengers is needed to get the most optmial seating which is also bound to be disturbing an hour after the drive sequence.
- Visibility: The Beat also has deep set interiors which makes it difficult for us to notice what is outside. The visibility is quite bad and one needs to get used to this car for sometime to guage who is standing outside. Its easy to miss out small kids standing next to the car or small cats, dogs crossing in front due to poor visibility.
- Boot: Ok, how about some three small bags, some slippers, perhaps a small umbrella, and anything else as long as it gets smaller and smaller? I am already telling you that the car itself is small. Its unreasonable to provoke me to comment on the boot. For me, its as good as non existent for larger luggages. Period. If you want a deeper spacious boot look elsewhere. Not here.
- Auto AC: If you close all your windows and do not have the climate control on, I believe you are going to sweat, puff and pant and feel like you are in an oven in less than ten minutes. Thankfully the automatic climate control does its job and keeps everyone cool and comfortable inside. Due to the technical limitations on the capacity of the engine, the cooling is also only marginal. I am not sure if you can take this car to rajasthan and expect it to cool your interiors when the outside temperature is 50 degrees. For Bangalore however, it gets the job done. Period. Its not very cold exactly its just at the temperature you set it in which gives a nice ambience. The overall BLUE colouring of the dials and meters are great. Personally I am a big fan of soothing blue as it mellows down your temper. So if you have just fought with your boss, sit down inside the Beat at night onset, and switch on the car and go for a long drive. You will come back fresh.
- Engine: The new 1000cc, 3 Cylinder diesel is pretty noisy on the outside, and a bit of it on the inside too. Chevy are masters at sound damping and this is one of the traits why their cars really sell and are comfortable to be in, however this diesel has a bit of clatter though nothing to disturb your daily routine of driving the car itself. Start accelerating her and then the noise starts becoming coarse and coarser on higher RPMs and higher speeds. A constant drive at 100kmph will bring out a distinct hum and if you are the types like me who just prefers an ultra quiet cabin, then petrol is the way to go. The engine itself is peppy and punchy for short drives which makes this a cool car to drive around and chuck about in the traffic. This engine can surely give you much above 17kmpl in dirty traffic and maybe 22+ on the highways. Remember that there are speed limiters that Chevy has put in for the first gear, so that the engine is not spoilt, so a quick shift to second gear is almost all the time needed. The torque of 150NM is able to keep this car going and hence no big deal. If you are a mileage freak, kitna-deta-hai types, then close your eyes and buy this car!
- Gear ratios: Well lets talk in plain english shall we? I could not push this car beyond 20-30 kmph on first, say maybe upto 60kmph on second and so on upto fifth. I could not stretch it beyond 80-90kmph as it required lots of acceleration though the showroom staff claim it will effortlessly go to higher speeds and remain there. Well it might, but we know from other forums on how the highway or long drive performance of this car is. Personally I feel this car cannot stretch but if you are the 80-100kmph types, then this should just be fine! Remember these speeds are the ones where the insane mileages are achieved albeit you might reach a bit late to your destination if not any earlier!!
- Bad Road Handling: Chevy always has come up with innovative things, and they have this great habit of listening to their customers. They are not the types who would sell a car and forget about you. They surely know pretty well that a bad mouthed publicity on their product if improved upon will win them accolades. If not for anything else atleast for this attitude one can buy a Chevy car. Chevy Beat comes with a rebound suspension specifically designed for the greatly designed indian roads, so that upon going on road humps the car lifts itself pretty sooner avoiding it from hitting the road. This also will mean the passengers will get a mild jolt, but the cocooning of the car will take care of that jolt as easily as it threw you upwards. So rejoice and be at peace. Remember that while carrying other passengers, with you, please reduce the speed and go over the road hump maturely. Not like some rally driver. The car can take it, its the question of your driving manners with other people accompanying you. The top end variant comes with Alloy wheels as well making it a complete package.
- Overtaking: This is one specific point I wanted to mention to highlight the customer centric company. Chevy has once again listened to common customer problems and has understood that overtaking while the AC is on at short notices is always impossible in a proper way in all low end cars (cars with lesser capacity engines). So Chevy has introduced an automatic AC cut off feature wherein if you press the accelerator real hard, the compressor goes off momentarily giving you the power for the overtake manouvre or whatever else you had stealthily planned, after which the AC goes on once you come back to driving equilibrium. Hats off the chevy for thinking this way. How many times would you have fiddled with the AC just when you had to impress those friends in the car and an overtake manouvre was giving your car’s true colours away?
- Hill Assist: Chevy claims that the Beat Diesel comes with hill assist where they probably play around with generating more torque on hilly regions, but I could not personally verify this fact as the test drive was on city conditions which did not require this kind of feature. Just to let you know the FIGO has the reverse of hill assist feature. It will not even bother to assist itself on a hill. Leave alone you.
- Pricing and safety options: The Beat does comes fully equipped with ABS and Airbags, but is extremely pricey at close to 7 lacs on the road in Bangalore which makes it one of the costliest little hatches in that segment. Neither is it cool on space, nor on power, yet it equals the FIGO on pricing. The only reason it can then sell well is due to its cute form factor for those easy single drives within city, or the unBEATable fuel efficiency if not the price. I respect companies who provide safety options on all their variants and Chevy has it only top variant. Well, atleast they have it, and you better have it too. We all have one life and we do not want to lose it in a car accident would we?
The Chevy Beat is a cute car. Its proportions are welcome in a city like Bangalore. It has a peppy diesel engine, with a great suspension, a great automatic climate control, much to my liking black interiors with blue instrument cluster and an absolutely delightful steering. Its great mileage is going to impress all those who have been choking out more money for petrol so far. The engine itself is a bit noisy and the car itself is only a four person vehicle strictly but not a major cause for concern still. The price though is debatable as we have other options in that price range with full safety features. The 100000 km warranty or 3 yrs coverage with labour costs zero is a great initative from Chevy which shows their confidence on designing good cars which require minimal service in the first place.
If you fall into the category of people for whom the above attributes are the most important, you would own a Beat Diesel right away.
Liked this review? - Let me know in the comments section what your opinion is and your views on this car!
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