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Chevrolet Beat
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This Car Has Been Discontinued.
Customer Rating
: 3/5
Expert Rating
: 9/10
Warranty
: 3 Yrs / 1,00,000 kms (Whichever is earlier)
Ex-showroom price in 
 help (Rs.Lakhs)
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Strong Areas

  • Stylish Demeanour
  • High Safety Equipment 
  • Good Mileage
  • Superior Dynamics

Weak Areas

  • Lack Comfort Features 
  • Average Boot
  • Small Rear Space
  • Unanimated Performance
Chevrolet Beat
 
 

Beat Diesel- A Wallet and User-Friendly Urban Commuter

Chevrolet Beat has the potential to establish itself as a great urban runabout, is easy to drive in the city and has a comfortable ride. 


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ecardlr.com National

CHEVROLET BEAT DIESEL

The baby Chevy gets a much-needed boost in the form of an efficient diesel heart.
The two prevalent themes in the Indian automotive market are small cars and diesel cars. Small cars dominate as much as 80 percent of the Indian passenger car market. However, the diesel car market share is around 40 percent. That’s probably because the list of top 10 sellers like the Hyundai i10, Santo, Maruti Wagon R and Alto are all small city cars that just don’t offer diesel power. Finally, a company that’s charging into the arena is General Motors with its new Chevrolet Beat TCDi, the first sub-compact or mini-car to come with a diesel engine. Has General Motors really cracked the code? Let’s find out

At the heart of the matter is GM’s SDE Smartech motor. This engine is related to the famous four-cylinder Multijet diesel that was jointly developed by GM and Fiat. For the Beat, one cylinder was knocked off which has pared the engine down from 1248cc to 936cc to make it the smallest diesel engine in any car today. However, snipping off a cylinder isn’t as easy as it seems. Despite the extremely compact dimensions of this engine, it was a challenge for GM powertrain Europe and the GM Technical Centre in India to accommodate the motor in the Beat’s tight engine bay. Under the hood, the transversely mounted motor’s turbocharger sits right on top rather than on the side for better packaging. The tuned plastic intake manifold reduces weight while improving bottom-end grunt. The four-valve head uses aluminium alloy to save weight while deploying a cast iron cylinder block with an aluminium bedplate for an optimal combination of strength, weight and refinement. To reduce friction, low tension piston rings and graphite coasted piston skirts have been used as well.

When we tested the Beat petrol, we were impressed by its smoothness and low noise levels and GM engineers have worked very hard to achieve a high level of refinement on the diesel as well. A balancer shaft and vibration dampers have been used to control the typical thrum of a three-cylinder motor. However, it’s not that easy in a car as compact as the Beat. There’s less bodywork and sheet metal (to absorb noise) and hence diesel clatter an vibrations typically get amplified. In fact, reducing noise and vibration was the biggest challenge which slightly delayed the launch of the Beat diesel. But, right from the first crank, you can tell that the hard work has paid off.

Once fired up, the oil burner settles down to a remarkably smooth and quiet idle. Out on the roads, it felt at home in the slow-moving traffic. The small engine ambles around in a higher gear-with the rev counter needle hovering above 1000rpm. Step on the gas and the progress is quite languid right until the 1600rpm mark but once the small, fixed-geometry turbo kicks in, you get a respectable and useful step-up in pace. The powerband spreads up to 3500rpm and the short gear ratios, especially first and second, amplify the 15.29kgm of torque to make city driving remarkably easy.

In the powerband, the Beat diesel responds to throttle inputs with an unhurried yet assertive manner. Just don’t expect it to be energetic or exciting. In our run from 20-80kph in third gear, the Beat diesel took 14.1 seconds.  This is significantly quicker than the Beat petrol (15.9sec) but is over a second slower than the three-cylinder 12.-litre Polo diesel. The punchy mid-range can be gauged by the 40-100kph sprint in fourth gear which takes a respectable 16.48sec. To put that in perspective, it’s six seconds faster than the petrol beat and just a second slower than the Polo, which is a much bigger three-cylinder diesel. That really is a strong showing by the diminutive motor; part of that can be put down to the Beat TCDI’s 1027kg kerb weight. On top of that, the engine felt pleasantly smooth and tranquil rolling around at city speeds.

Once you head out onto the open road, the SDE Smartech’s lack of displacement becomes apparent. Also, the vibration and noise suppression which, until 2500rpm, had seemed beyond reproach reveals a few chinks as the revs rise. A light diesel thrum builds up beyond the 2500rpm mark and the engine noise become pretty apparent. Although it isn’t instrusive, the light boom is always present as you zip down the highway at near-triple-digit speeds. The run from 0-100kph takes a relaxed 18.5sec and overtaking manoeuvres are pretty laborious. You have to shift down a gear or two by working the slightly notchy and long-throw gearshift for best results but the lack of top-end punch is always evident. The engine labours to its 5000rpm rev limit and it’s best to shift up early.

However, all of the Beat diesel’s performance shortcomings can be wiped clean by fuel efficiency figures that would make Uncle Scrooge proud. In our fuel runs, the Beat delivered 19.1kpl out on the highway despite the shorter gearing taking a slight toll there. In the city it delivered an astounding 16kpl which makes it more efficient than any other car we have tested to date. The frugal nature of the Beat diesel is clearly its trump card.

Apart from dropping in a completely new engine, Chevy has tinkered with the Beat in other areas as well. Out on the highway, the Beat has always been surefooted while offering good ride comfort in the city. GM India has improved the ride further by switching to new gas-charged shock absorbers and wider 165/65-R14 Goodyear rubber. The Beat now rides over rough patches with impressive pliancy and, though it still bobs over the bumps and broken roads, it has pretty good body control. In fact, for such a small car the ride quality is just superb.

GM has also replaced the Beat’s hydraulic steering system with a sophisticated electrically powered steering which provides variable assist. It’s light at low speeds and weight up a bit as you go faster but it doesn’t have a sporty feel. Also, the steering feels a bit vague at the dead-ahead position but inspires more confidence as you turn in. However, despite its improved stability, grip and steering, the Beat isn’t particularly sporty and feels best when it is driven a notch down.

On the inside, the Beat diesel is hard to differentiate from the petrol variant. The plastic quality is generally good but space is as at a premium. The rear feels narrow and cramped while the 170-little boot is too small for a practical diesel.

The top-end LT(O) variant comes packed with powered window and automatic air-conditioning. The music system looks the same but it now sports improved sound and a standard, full-sized USB port. ABS and airbags are also on offer. From the outside too, the Beat diesel is identical to the petrol variant. The bratty styling is eye-catching even today and has a young, hip feel to it. Equipment options include the round for lamps and 10-spoke alloy wheels. There’s only the discreet TCDi badge on the boot to tell you what diet the Beat is running on.

CHEVROLET BEAT
AUTOCAR VERDICT
Wallet and user-friendly urban commuter.
GM has got a first-mover advantage in a very crucial segment of the market with the Beat diesel, which has the potential to establish itself as a great urban runabout. It’s easy to drive in the city, has a comfortable ride and decent drive ability. It maybe a touch too small as a family car and the lack of outright punch limit its highway abilities. However, the trump card for the Beat diesel will be its incredible fuel efficiency which is a huge plus in this age of rising fuel prices. The price (not announced at the time of going to press), of course, is crucial and a tag that places the Beat TCDi at Rs 50,000-60,000 more than the petrol variant will ensure the Beat diesel doesn’t just create a new segment but also dominates it for time to come.

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