– Mahesh Hegde
Let me give you an introduction to my driving history before I start off the Chevy Beat ownership review. My first car like many people in India was a Maruti 800 followed by a Peugeot 309, Opel Corsa 1.3, Tata Indica Turbo and now a Chevy beat. I have driven each of these cars over 50, 000 kms and the Indica I have done a 100,000 +. So my overall driving experience is close to 300,000 kms. Considering the earth’s perimeter is around 40,000 kms. That is I could have driven over 7 times around the world or I could have driven around the world at least once in each car that I owned. Other than the cars that I had I have also driven other cars which include Ambassador, Fiat Primier Padmini, Fiat Elegant, Premier 118NE, Toyota Qualis, Mahindra Scorpio, Tata Sump, Force / Tempo Trax, Maruti Omni, Suzuki Swift, Tata Safari, Tata Indigo Dicor / CS / LS, Tata Indica Vista, Fiat Linea, Fiat Punto 70PS / 90 PS / 1.2 /1.4, Hyundai i10, Hyundai Gets, Ford Fiesta, Figo, ikon, Toyota Matrix, Corolla, Innova, Chrysler PT Cruizer, Seebring, Chevrolet Impala, …… the list goes on. By now I am sure you will agree that I have a pretty good driving experience to write a full review for a car.
I had done 100,000 on my Indica Turbo and was looking to change my car. These were the options I considered and the reason I rejected them
1. Ford Figo – This is a miniature Ford Fusion, Fusion has better ground clearance, Figo is expensive dull looking and does not have powe windows on rear even in the fully loaded model.
2. VW Polo – Underpowered, Noisy, dealer in Bangalore failed to get me a test drive even after repeated calls from my side. The reason they gave was that their demo car met with an accident!!
3. Nissan Micra – The dealer called me back after I bought the Beat to give me a test drive I had repeatedly requested two months back.
4. Hyundai I10 Kappa – There are too many i10 on road and looks are 4 years old
5. Alto K10 – The gearbox is very rough and engine noisy. Looks have not been upgraded for almost a decade.
6. Indica Vista – After I had very high maintenance on my Tata Indica Turbo never again will I buy a TATA.
7. Fiat Punto – A great car but only the 90PS version is actually good. Which is highly expensive (almost INR 900,000 !!!)
So I bought a Chevrolet Beat and these were some key aspects that convinced me to buy a beat
1. The looks are mind blowing and looks like a car from the future
2. The engine is extremely silent and refined
3. Excellent interiors and ergonomics
4. Rich features – Auto AC (Climate control), great built in sound system with a radio that can catch a Bangalore FM channel even in Mysore (thanks to the long antenna) These are some of them.
5. GM service has been really good and also the Spark which I have and driven for 30,000 kms is doing really well and very low maintenance
Some known limitations in Beat. (I was well aware of these before buying):
1. Back seats are comfortable for even six footers, however, back seat is designed for two people. Three people on back seat is a bit of a struggle.
2. The boot space is limited.
3. Ground clearance could have been better. (however, it is much better than Ford Figo)
First 1000 Kms:
Driving the beat was like slicing butter. It’s so smooth and refined you don’t want to speed in this car, you just feel like cruising slowly which gives a feeling that you are floating on the road. Thanks to the excellent noise insulation, most of the noise outside the car is cut off. I was extra careful while crossing road humps because the clearance is very low. However, till now I have not come across any road hump that really touches the chassis. Yes, sometimes the mud flaps and the silencer scrape the humps. So in spite of the low clearance the design has taken care of the bad Indian road terrain. I completed 1000 Kms within two weeks and had the checkup done. Free checkup cost INR 0.
Next review at 5000 Kms:
I went to my native place Nisarani, a village in Sorab Taluk, Shimoga District for Ganesha festival and due to rains the road was totally messed up. This road is the worst road I will ever take my car into. My uncles have different cars who also came there in Fiesta, Linea which both got stuck in the sludge. Surprisingly The Chevy Spark (my Dad’s) and my Beat cleared the stretch quite easily!! I was really sad that my new car became so dirty, so for the next 2 days I washed the car and kept it untouched until I left for Bangalore after the festival. The whole journey from Bangalore to Mysore to Nisarani and back is about 1000 kms and I enjoyed the ride without any issues. I was really happy that in spite of the long drives I didn’t get any body pains. If I had done the same in my Indica I required at least a day’s rest to recover from the pain and stress.
I didn’t speed beyond 100 kms per hour on any occasion till I completed the 5000 Kms service. Also I didn’t feel like speeding as the beat was so cool and silent to cruise. I felt the lack of the torque through out the drives and I assumed that they had limited the ECU to check the torque till I get the first service done at 5K. This may be a hangover of my Indica Turbo’s torque filled engine.
After the First Service at 5K:
I got the first service done within two months and the bill was Rs 480, that too only because I had asked for wheel alignment and balancing. I thought the first oil change was at 5K however, was surprised to hear that the oil change is only at 15K intervals. That’s great and lower the maintenance cost even further.
The vehicle pickup and torque drastically increased after the first service and I wanted to check out how the engine revs at higher speeds. On the weekly ride to Bangalore from Mysore I left late in the night at about 9 p.m. to rip the car and test the maneuverability of the car. The engine has a super cool wrooom sound when it revs beyond 3.5K rpm. The sound is similar to the 1.4 L petrol Fiat Punto. The actual torque band of the Beat is between 3500 and 4500 rpm it’s a bit high but the engine is very happy to rev so gives u a sporty car king of a feeling to drive. I have hit speeds up to 140 kmph with five people on board an a/c running. The car has small tires but is very stable, you get the feeling of driving a sedan. Thanks to the quality interiors and a large 3 spoke steering wheel which has a grip to park your thumb. The tilt adjustment is another handy feature to improve on the ergonomics of the driver’s seat. Other reviewers say that you need to change to wider tires to get a good drive on the beat, however, I disagree with that.
Back seat space is something Beat fails to beat the competition at. But if you want to buy a Beat please buy it as a car for 4 people and you will not regret.
The sparkling fog lamps are something I really want to talk about. The laps have a nice chrome ring and large reflector which make the fog lamps stand out.
I was not able to find photos of a white color Chevrolet Beat on the net. So I want to post a photo here.
Next review at 10000 Kms:
In just about six months I completed 10,000 kms and it is going great. Just before the 10k service I went on a weekend round trip of total 1200 kms from Bangalore – Salem – Trichy – Tanjavur – Karaikal (Pondycherry) and back. I got am amazing mileage of 16.7 in the overall trip with 4 people and ac on all the time. When, I had a Tata Indica Turbo, after a 400 kms one way drive on sunday, it was impossible for me to go to office on monday. In the Beat, after driving for 1200 kms on the weekend I was in Office at 10 am on Monday morning. Thanks to the great ergonomics.
After the trip to Pondycherry I came to Mysore and got the 10K service done. Only major cost was the pollen and dust filter replacement. Other things were wheel rotation, alignment and balancing. Oil did not require top up. Service bill, 1500 Rs. I spent another 800 Rs extra to get a 3M polish done. The car really looks new and all the micro – scratches were gone after the 3M polish.
We bought a Nissan Xtrail and I was driving it before I got my Beat back from the service, when I switched back to Beat I could really feel the high level of refinement, noise reduction and precise handling. Going great so far.
Review after 15 K:
Couple of weeks ago I finished 15k on my Beat and the car is going as good as new. The car is giving me the same mileage, in fact on one of the long drives to my native Sagar from Bangalore I got a mileage of 18.3 kmpl. You must consider the fact that I left early in the morning and the temperature was very cool ~ 20 deg C and very less traffic on the highway. I got a few scratches on the front bonnet, but they are not visible as they are on the bottom side. These scratches are from my little off-roading I did to get my car into a ferry that takes the car over the backwaters of Linganmakki. This saved me almost 40 kms while going from Sagar to Kodachadri.
The bill on the 15k service (major service as there is an oil and filter change) was a very descent 2000 Rs. I was expecting something around 4 – 5 k. Also, I got a free 3M polish done as I had complained that the previous polish had worn out pretty soon. Since the rains have kicked in Bangalore earlier than June I bought a new pair of mats at Reliance Auto world and also a mat for the boot at Trident. I am very happy with the service I have got at Trident in Mysore and I complemented the service guy for the free polish.
Review after 20 K:
This time when I left the car for service I asked the technician not to change the pollen and dust filter as I did not find the necessity. The service bill was about Rs. 1600 and only part I changed was few screws for the mud flap and the wiper blade. Since I drive a lot in rainy weather I usually have the wiper blade changed once every year. The car is going on as smooth as ever. It has been a year since I bought the car and I could not have asked for any better performance from the car or service from the dealers.
After about 23k, the tires are giving way a little bit when I braked hard at high speed, which I feel is quite normal for a non – ABS version. I still do not see the necessity of ABS or bigger tires. In fact my cousin bought the newly launched diesel version of the car which I also test drove. The diesel version has many improvements and some drawbacks. The major improvement is the ground clearance and suspension. The drawback is the somewhat noisy 3 cylinder engine, a hypersensitive steering with almost zero feedback and the pricing. The diesel Beat is not as competitively priced as the petrol variant. The fully loaded diesel (LT) costs about 6.3 L on road in Bangalore. I had paid about 4.75 for my petrol Beat LT. In spite of the high petrol rate You may still want to go for the petrol variant. Here is why –
I have driven my cat about 25000 kms in a year. altough i get a mileage of 16+, let us take the worst case mileage as 15.
25000 / 15 = 1666.67 literes of petrol
Average rate of petrol per litre is 70
1666 * 70 = Rs. 1,16,000 approx
If it were diesel let us say average rate of diesel was Rs 45 per litre
1666 * 45 = Rs. 75,000 approx
1.16 – 0.75 = Rs 41,000
to recover the difference money paid for the Diesel variant about Rs. 1.55 L, I will have to drive the car for at least 3.8 years and 25,000 kms each year. Most of the city users do not drive more than 10,000 kms per year and for them it will be more than 8 years before they recover the extra money paid for diesel. I have made a few assumptions here that the diesel car will also give 15 kmpl mileage. however, the Beat diesel gives more. But, to compensate for that, you can consider the interest you pay for the extra Rs. 1.5 L. Although the new diesels they say are low on maintenance, I do not believe it, simply because of the higher vibration in diesels cars, there has to be more wear and tear in diesel if you go by the laws of physics. Hence, I do not see a significant difference between petrol and diesel in the long term cost of ownership costs. If the government decides to remove subsidy for diesel, which they are considering, then, you will have to think many times before buying a diesel. Also, I am sure most of you will agree that the level of comfort and performance in a petrol is any time better than that of diesel.
Before I close the 20k review, I must mention that I normally do not rive the car without AC. However, this time I travelled to my native for Ganesh chaturti, I just wanted to check the mileage of my car without the AC and to my surprise I got 19.7 kmpl !! the best mileage I have got in any car I owned till now. I suppose, there is a significant difference in mileage without AC.
Come back to check out my next review at 30k
Conclusions with my experience with beat till now:
Suspension is very sturdy on bumpy roads, little bumpy, rolling is significant for rear passengers.
Little underpowered when new. Really good power for a 1.2 L after the first service at 5000kms. The power and torque really opens up between 3500 – 4500 rpm.
14.5 with AC in the city. 16 with AC on the highway.
Brakes: Too good. It’s a bit dangerous as the car behind you may hit you if you brake hard.
Excellent finish, minimal and consistent panel gaps.
Highly refined engine, refinement is extended to the whole car and not just the engine.
Front seats are very spacious in fact the legroom is better than the Ford Fiesta sedan. Back space although looks small is comfortable for tall people. However, not very comfortable for 3 people at the back. The back seat is rounded off at the corner and could have provided better thigh support if the seat cushion was bigger. Same problem in Spark as well.
Others say you need to upgrade tyres, I do not agree with that. The existing tyres itself gives a good handling up to speeds of 100 – 110 kms per hour. So you may want to upgrade tyres if you drive faster than that. There are not too many roads in India designed for higher speeds.
If you have a thirst for refinement, futuristic design and believe in the Chevrolet service like I do, go for this car.
Some more photos