Chevrolet Beat has always been a successful model for General Motors in our country. After charming the audience by acting in ‘Transformers’ as a small peppy ‘Autobot’, the Beat was launched with radical looks and frugal engines. But the market has been flooded with other alternatives by several manufacturers since. For the year 2014, Chevrolet has given a slight facelift to keep the buzz going for the Beat. We spend a couple of days with this handsome hatch to see what’s what.
The Beat was already a overall good looking car with funky styling. The new facelift carries very tiny design changes with the new ‘dual port’ grille in Chevrolet’s language with fine chrome detailing. The long swept back headlamps get black highlights inside to lend a more rakish look to the front.
The rear tail lamps have been given a new jewel effect adding more glamour. Another change is the dual tone rear bumper which essentially is plastic cladding. These might look like very tiny changes, but overall add a lot to the appeal of this car.
The cabin of the Beat is a nice place to be. There are fewer lines and more curves all around. We like the blue backlit on all the controls and toggles on the dashboard. Chevrolet has added new steering mounted controls, which lets you take control of the audio system. Plastics are of decent quality and built tough for rugged use. You get air conditioning, an audio system with AUX IN/USB/CD and four speakers. The driver’s seat gives you a good view of the road ahead and a smooth light steering wheel for ease. One niggle that we noticed in the diesel version that we drove was that the air conditioning is not as good as some of the rivals in the segment. The compressor sometimes turns off and the cabin looses cooling, although this could be attributed to intense warm weather prevalent in Delhi summers.
Engine and transmission
The variant that we drive here is a 936cc 3-cylinder diesel unit putting out 58bhp of maximum power and peak torque of 150Nm at a low 1,750rpm. The petrol version displaces 1,199cc and pumps out 79bhp and a peak torque figure of 108Nm. Both are mated to a smooth shifting 5-speed manual transmission. There is a common observation that diesel cars have heavier clutches, but this Beat diesel has a fairly light clutch. There is a launch support system for hill starts and a tiny torque boost as soon as you press the accelerator to make overtaking maneuvers easier.
Chevrolet claims the diesel variant returns 25.44kmpl and the petrol version gives 18.6kmpl. There is no doubt that the diesel is a fairly frugal car, on our moderate run with a mix of highway and city roads our test car returned 22-23kmpl.
The feather light steering, comfortable driving position and an engine tuned to return maximum fuel efficiency is not the recipe for sporty performance, but this little hatch is still fun to drive. The gas charged suspension setup has been tampered with at the rear to improve upon driving characteristics. The ride quality is better now with a knack for quick cornering as well. The gear lever is a boring plastic stick which needs to improve immediately. The acceleration is going to pin you in the seat but what really stands out is the capability of the Beat to remain planted and sure-footed at triple digit speeds. The diesel variant gets 165mm tyres which provide a slightly wider contact patch for stronger braking. One niggle that we have is that Airbags and anti-lock brakes are only available on the top of the line LT (O) variants.
The Chevrolet Beat continues to be a good looking curious little hatchback. Our pick is the diesel with its fuel efficiency upwards of 20kmpl and tactile nature of its engine. The minor facelift has given this car slightly more appeal. The looks have gone more attractive and suspension tuning has made it a bit more fun to drive. And to sweeten the deal on Chevrolet cars, General Motors recently introduced their Complete Care Programme to enhance ownership experience.