We have all the dope on our first impressions of the Chevrolet Beat. Here's twenty points you need to know about the car and why it has the makings of a winner.
1. Funky design language means that the Beat stands out against its competition - the Suzuki Ritz and Hyundai i10. The nice crease on the bonnet gives it a pseudo-aggressive look, while the large head lamps make it appear more substantial and less top heavy than one would like to believe.
2. It will be available in seven colours, including that lime green shade you first saw some months ago. We managed to drive the car in just red and blue colours, and even then, it looks pretty darn good. At first, the car looks a little weird in profile, but you soon realise that the rear door handles are not in their usual position but placed where one would generally find the rear quarter glass. Very impressive.
3. Because the rear door handle has now gone missing, the curved crease just under the shoulder line and the wheel arch now get prominence, to ensure there is no slab-sidedness.
4. The Beat is designed to be a strong car with enough stress members and points to meet the best safety standards possible.
5. The tail lamps at first appear aftermarket, but gel rather well with the overall design. That does, however impinge on boot space. 6. The boot space is small for another reason too - there is now far more legroom at the rear - it's just as good as some larger hatches like the Hyundai i20. There's enough room for three persons at the rear, with a not-so-tall central tunnel and a flat floor for your feet.
7. The head room and shoulder room is another plus point in the car, while the black cadding that houses the rear door handle doesn't create the cave-like feel that one comes across with the Swift. But the rear window is small and the position of the power windows is inconvenient.
8. The dashboard is well designed in terms of visual appeal and the materials used. The soft touch material along with the piano black wood type strips (that are a fingerprint magnet) and the V-shaped centre console make it a delight to use, touch and feel.
9. The digital display for the air-con is well thought out with the outline of the car ensconsing the other bits such as air-flow, blower speed and temperature. Neat!
10. The stereo can handle pretty much all kinds of auxillary inputs, strangely including a mini-USB in! It sounds pretty decent and the bass is decently resolved too, though the best system in this segment still belongs to the one in the i10. 11. The instrument console is straight out of modern motorcycles with the large round dial now acting as the speedo while the rev counter is based in a rectangular LCD screen, that also contains the fuel gauge, while making do without the temperature gauge - a trend on most modern cars. The steering rack is adjustable for height and the instrument console moves with it. Wonderful!
12. The steering feels nice to hold and has all the padding to make it comfortable to hold on to. The driver's seat has good amount of adjustments and is comfortable enough for long drives.
13. The car is powered by a 1.2-litre S-Tec engine that uses a double overhead camshaft to produce 79 bhp of peak power and 11 kgm of peak torque. This is an all-new engine and has no relationship to the one found on the Aveo U-VA
14. It is very refined and more Japanese engine like, with a buzzy tone that isn't as loud as the one on the i10 Kappa, nor as smooth as the one on the Ritz. But it does feel rev happy and eager.
15. The gearbox slots into place very nicely, with positive shifts and very little clunkiness, unlike the other hatches sold by GM. The material that makes the gear knob however feels a tad cheap. 16. The engine has enough grunt to keep things moving with four adults and luggage to a speed of 120 kph, and from there on labours on to an indicated speed of 155-160 kph. This is pretty much in line with performance of other comparable 1.2-litre cars in the segment.
17. Steering has decent feedback and like the throttle lacks any of the springiness one has come to associate with GM small cars, especially the Spark. There is body roll around corners though, but it is decently controlled.
18. Handling ranges from being neutral to understeery, and neutral is rather rare considering it has 155 section 14-inch Apollo Acelere rubber. A touch wider variety would make things better here.
19. Ride quality is one of the car's strengths. It rides extremely well over rough stuff and doesn't feel bouncy as other tall boy hatches. It feels very settled over less than average terrain and rides more like a C-segment sedan.
20. Chevrolet is mum about pricing, but we expect the price to range from Rs 3.8 lakh for the base variant, to under Rs 5 lakh for the top-end variant that has airbags and ABS as standard. With that sort of pricing, the Chevrolet Beat has all the right ingredients to make life very difficult for Hyundai and Maruti Suzuki.
Watch out for a more detailed review coming soon!