The Chevrolet Spark met with reasonable success in the Indian car market, thanks to its packaging and VFM price tag. General Motors uses the same recipe for the modern Beat, whose aggressive pricing triggered off a price war in the B segment. The Beat has been designed by GM Daewoo (South Korea). Owners report that build quality is decidedly better than the tinny Marutis, and on par with Hyundai.
Unfortunately, the boot is only 170 liters in size. Owners complain that boot space is noticeably smaller than direct competitors. The air-conditioner received top marks and chills the interiors even in hot Indian summers. Chevrolet sells the fully loaded variant with 2 front airbags, ABS, climate control, tilt-adjustable steering, all 4 power windows, central locking, alloy wheels, integrated stereo with 4 speakers & support for CD / MP3 / USB / AUX, roof rails, rear spoiler, rear wash & wipe and a parcel tray. Conspicuous by their absence are keyless entry, driver’s seat height adjustment and steering mounted audio controls.
Power comes from a 1.2 liter 4 cylinder petrol engine. This unit is rated at 79 BHP (@ 6,200 rpm) and 108 NM of torque (@ 4,400 rpm). Owners spoke very highly of the engine refinement levels, especially at idle and at low rpms. Within the city, throttle response is strictly average. The Beat moves out of 1st gear well. However, all of our reviewers complained that mid-range is weak and the car feels sluggish in 2nd gear. As the speedometer climbs, driveability improves, with the 3rd gear proving to be a vital tool within urban driving conditions.
Still, due to the weak 2nd gear and average torque delivery, expect frequent downshifts within the city. This engine is surely not revv-happy either and feels boomy at high rpms. On the open road, it is best to upshift early and cruise at a constant speed in 5th gear. Beat owners state that the gear shift action is sure-slotting, though it does have a rubbery edge to itself. The clutch is light enough and has a short pedal range (excellent for city use). The power steering is effortless at parking speeds and stays light within the city.
At high speed, the hydraulic unit weighs in sufficiently well for a hatchback. Our reviewers add that steering feedback is superb. The Beat’s suspension is tuned for comfort and remains absorbent over most road conditions. Ride quality is a key advantage of this Chevy, and an area where it betters the Santro, i10 and Ritz by a noticeable margin. The suspension is entirely lacking in stiffness and keeps rear seat occupants comfortable. At speed, straight line stability is safe enough and the Beat can happily cruise at 120 kph all day. Sudden lane changes, though, will see the tyres squealing easily.
The Beat is under-tyred (for fuel efficiency) without a doubt. Body roll is noticeable in fast corners while understeer sets in easily too. This car is a city hatch that’s best driven sedately on the expressway. The brakes received strong ratings for feel and effectiveness. An upgrade to a more suitable (wider) tyre size comes recommended.