Started this blog to share my experiences and opinions hoping that one day these may be useful for someone one this beautiful planet earth, or even beyond !!
My first date with the World Wide Web was sometime in high school when I mostly used it for chatting with friends and relatives. Since then, I have been using the net mostly to share my views (both from my mind and my camera!). In recent times got stormed with too many social networking sites. Al tough, client dashboards like TweetDeck and Hootsuite provided a single point interface for many of them, I was still not very happy with them. So, I decided to have a portal of my own and enter into the next level of content management and sharing on the web.
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.
My Job in L-3 India took me to various places around the world including Canada, South Korea, Khandala / Lonavala …. The most interesting of the places my job has taken me is to Andaman Islands. I was in Port Blair Andaman for giving a training to Indian Navy personnel for a week followed by a vacation for about 5 days.
It all started when the requirement for giving training in Andaman came up in office and lot of people wanted to take up this task including me. There was not much discussion in office for this assignment as Madhukar and I were pretty senior we were the chosen ones (actually there were not too many choices as people do not like to give trainings).
Since this kind of an opportunity does not come very often I decided to take my wife Prashanti along so that I can have a great time during my vacation in Andaman. So what happened to start as a teaching assignment, ended up as a training assignment + an extended vacation with my wife.
We had to take two flights to reach Port Blair and this is how Madhukar was after our first flight from Bangalore to Chennai.
Thanks to the scarce seats at Chennai airport. The sad part about it is that if you have to transfer from one domestic flight to other you need to go out of the airport and come back in! Luckily you do not have to check in again. Chennai to Port Blair flight was longer than what I expected. It is a hard to believe fact that Andaman is closer to Burma than India. Please don’t be surprised if people ask you weather you need a passport / Visa to go to Andaman. Many people have asked me that assuming that Andaman is a separate country!
This was my first glimpse of the Andaman Islands from the plane. I just said WOOW!! Photography is banned in the Port Blair Airport so the air hostess asked me to switch off my phone as soon as I took this.
Landing in the Veer Savarkar Airport in Port Blair, named after the freedom fighter who had once escaped from the jail in Andaman, the weather was pretty hot and humid, but not as bad as Chennai. We picked up bags and met our driver who was holding a placard outside the airport. I had no idea about the common cabs in Port Blair; I was expecting at least a Tata Indica. To my disappointment our cab happened to be a rickety old Ambassador which we had to bear with for the rest of the week. We got into the Amby and then came our next surprise as the car started to take us towards our “VIP” accommodation!! We were driving on the airport runway!!!! I couldn’t believe this; I have seen the airport vehicles run on a runway sometimes, and also some defense vehicles allowed on the runway like in Pune airport. This was the first time I came across a civilian car being allowed to go on the runway. Here is a picture I took, you can observe a black dot far on the runway is a chopper trying to take off while we enjoy the “Runway Crossing”
It was a very hot Day and we were first taken to a Navy Commander’s residence who arranged accommodation for us in Andaman. I really envy this Commander’s sea facing house, although the house was an old Government building, the view of the sea from the living room was awesome. It reminded me of one of the hotels in Ulsan, South Korea where I used to stay which has a cool view of the ocean. We were shown our accommodation at the officer’s mess which was kind of descent but the air conditioning was not sufficient to fight the heat. So on day two we decided to move to a hotel SeaShells a highly recommended place to stay.
Cellular Jail – Kaala Paani
Our first tourist spot we saw was the cellular jail in Port Blair which has a distressing history behind it. You can walk through the empty corridors of the jail which once was filled with the determination and sorrow of the freedom fighters who were deported from the main land to this jail nick names Kaala Paani. This website gives a lot more info on this jail which is a National Monument today. The sound and light show which is conducted every evening at the Jail tell about the story of the jail in the sight of a tree which stands in the jail’s gardens. A very touching story makes u realize the cost of freedom. This is a must see if you are in Andaman.
During the entire week we spend the days on board Indian Navy Ship INS Kesari which is one of the Shardul class ships in service as a Landing Ship Tank (Large). This type of ships are exceptionally valuable in rescue missions during Tsunami and other natural mishaps as they have the capability to beach in shallow waters, where other ships cannot enter. These ships also have a huge storage space where you can play a casual game of cricket or soccer J this space is used to store tanks and trucks in battle or to transport people and supplies during emergencies. I had worked on the project to design and deploy an Integrated Machinery Control System (IMCS). Madhukar and I spent most of the week giving training to the Navy personnel on board the ship on the IMCS. We spent the evening checking out places within Port Blair like, the Marina / Water Sports Complex and Ross Island.
Ross Island – The Strange contrast
We chose Ross Island over Mount Harriet National park (Highest peak in Andaman) and in the end I feel we took a good decision. If you have seen the Cellular Jail you must also visit Ross Island as the history of these two places are linked. Exactly across the jail is this Island called Ross Island which was the administrative headquarters of Andaman now managed by the Indian Navy as INS Jarawa named after the tribal group of Andaman. When the freedom fighters were struggling in the Jail the British enjoyed a luxurious lifestyle in Ross Island where they had club houses, ball room, cricket and tennis grounds, spotted deer, peacocks and a lovely white sand beach with crystal clear ocean waters. It is said that the British used the local tribes and the inmates to build their paradise in Ross Island. Ross Island takes u back in time and boosts the respect you have for our Nation’s freedom fighters.
North Point – My first experience with underwater world
On the last day on board the ship we had the privilege to meet the Captain of the ship we were giving training on. After we were presented with some mementos Captain asked us what plans we had for the next day, we told him that we were planning snorkeling in North Point. The Captain instructed one of his Commanders and an expert diver who free dives for more than 50 feet to guide us the next day. The next day we started early from our hotel and were surprised to see that at about 5.30 am college and school students were ready to catch their bus to the school. This seems normal in Andaman as the sun rises early there compared to the mainland India. We left the jetty at about 6 am in a small inflatable motor boat. It took us about half an hour to get to North Point. I also had brought my wife along and it was her first experience on a boat like this. It was our first experience at snorkeling for all three of us (Madhukar, my wife and me). The ride to North Point was little bumpy as we had some small waves in the sea due to cool breeze from the east. Once we reached North Point we got some lessons on how to use the snorkeling gear from the Navy Commander Madhukar was the first who wanted to jump into the sea which he tried for about 10 minutes and gave up (for the time being). So it was me who jumped into the sea first. The water was warm and comfortable and the early morning sun was not very harsh. I put on the snorkeling gear and then Commander gave me a quick tour of the corals at North Point. Woooow!!! I never expected the underwater world to be so beautiful, rich and breathtaking, colorful corals, variety of shapes, strange creatures and fish – lots of them. This moment is the most memorable one of my trip to Andaman. After Madhukar saw me in the water, he got more confidence and he also jumped in. Then, my wife joined me in the water and I took her for a tour holding her in one hand and swimming using my other hand. Although, my wife does not know how to swim, we had some floats to help her stay on the surface of the water. All of us enjoyed the spectacular views of the corals lit by the slant rays of the early morning sun in the crystal clear waters. Some of the corals here were really huge, probably as huge as an elephant. I really missed an underwater HD camera to capture the moments. The absence of any tourists as it was early in the morning made the place even better.
We were snorkeling for almost over an hour. Once we were done, I took my wife for a quick tour of the Naval ship and then we were dropped back to the jetty from where we went to our hotel in the Amby by about 9 a.m.
Some facts about North Point:
– North Point appears on the back of the Indian 20 rupee note
– This is the first point of reference for navigation on Indian Territory for incoming vessels from the east; there is a light house here on top of a small hill to guide the boats.
Havelock Island – Thick tropical forests, mangroves, one of Asia’s best beaches
This island is about 2-3 hours by sea from Port Blair and a must visit if you want to see some really great beaches and thick tropical forest. There are two boats that operate between Port Blair and Havelock. The best option is the private “Cruize” This is a very efficient boat and since it’s a catamaran hull it is also fast and takes about an hour and a half. This is very similar to the ferries from Busan to Okpo in South Korea. Beware as the private boat may be cancelled if the weather is bad. On our return trip the private boat was cancelled and so we had to take the only other option i.e. the Government operated boat. The government operated ferry stinks, makes u puke and also takes almost double the time. I somehow managed to stay stable after the 3 hour journey, but most people did not!
We arrived in Havelock at about noon, the resort where we were booked (SeaShells Havelock) has a small private beach lined with mangrove trees. The resort is setup in a coconut plantation and has several independent wooden cottages which are maintained well. You really do not feel like going out of this place. The resort arranges vehicles and boats to visit the different parts of the island.
The first location we checked out was Elephant Beach. To go to Elephant beach we took a scary motor boat from the Havelock jetty. It takes about 45 minutes to reach Elephant beach. A rare feature about the beaches of Havelock is that the beaches have a rich tropical forest backdrop lined up with really huge trees. A “glass bottom” motor boat at this beach was very useful to take some pictures of the colorful and shallow coral reefs. The corals here are really colorful and there are lots of varieties. However I felt that the corals at North Point are bigger. Snorkeling in Havelock was banned when we visited as a crocodile had lately killed a foreign tourist.
Back in the resort in the night I spent some time taking pictures of the resort at night. The next day we had planned to visit one of Asia’s best beaches.
After a heavy breakfast, we started for Radhanagar Beach which is about 15 Kms from our resort. Once we reached Radhanagar we were disappointed as the sky was overcast and the waves were too high for swimming. We were probably the only tourists on the beautiful beach. Setup against a thick tropical forest lined up with huge trees. The clouds started to clear, as the sun started shining we could see the different shades of blue in the water due to the varying depth of the ocean bed. The colors were incredible. A photo op and this is the result.
More tourists started coming in and I enjoyed swimming in the beach, hitting against the waves & jumping on them. Just as I started coming out of the water the clouds were coming in from the sea and the sun still shining on the beach. It was a perfect moment and a perfect photo reflecting the spirit and the weather of Andaman.
As we packed off from the beach for lunch, I took a final look at the beach and the sea and thought this is the best beach I have ever seen.
Key attractions at Havelock:
– Radhanagar beach
– Boat ride through the mangrove trees
– Corals at Elephant beach
– Neil Island – Beaches and Corals – this is a smaller island beside Havelock
Havelock was the last place we visited. We took the Govt. ferry to get back to Port Blair and took the next day early morning flight back to Bangalore via Chennai. The next time I go to Andaman I would like to take the Great Andaman Trunk road all the way to the top most Islands in Andaman and check out the sand bars connecting two islands there. I have heard a lot about this place. We could not do it on this trip due to time constrains and uncertainty about the road. Sometimes this road is closed to preserve the tribal people who live along the road.
In my first blog I will write about why I decided to have a blog and how I went about creating my blog site.
I had got fed up of updating status in Facebook, Twitter, Linked in and other social networking sites. I had put up a status update on these sites which read “Mahesh Hegdeis wondering how to generate revenue from the photos he has taken” I decided that I will first create a website, to showcase the photos I have taken. I am already sharing my photos on many other sites. Flickr is my favorite for the amazing slideshow interface they have. But that is something most people do these days.
I had a thought of an online photo gallery for a while. It was time I start doing something about it, so I decided to have an online photo gallery and a photo blog site to accompany the gallery and to share my views, both from my mind and from my camera. This statement eventually became the caption for my website.
I asked a couple of friends about the ways to start a website and have a gallery of my own. Subbu and Vybhav helped me out and gave me their suggestions. I went through lot of website links they sent me and understood that having a website has two layers:
1. The hosting service
2. Application or scripts that display the content
I selected hostmoster as a host and wordpress as my blogging application to start with. I am still figuring out how to create a photo gallery and an online store where you can buy the photos and use them. I am considering the Trendy Site builder that hostmoster provides and also Joomla Content Management for the gallery. I will update this blog as soon as I complete the gallery.
Ammedned: 18 Nov 2010
The trendy site builder was very flashy but not very flexible. Hence I tried and strongly recommend Concrete5 as a Content Management System (CMS) for your website. I also recommend WordPress for a blog which is feature rich and also user friendly.
Enjoy my views both from my mind and from my camera!