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Old 14th July 2011, 12:50   #1
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Default Chevrolet Beat TCDI Diesel : Test Drive & Review

The Chevrolet Beat Diesel has been launched in India at a price of Rs. 4.29 - 5.45 Lakhs (ex-Delhi).

What you'll like:

• Funky styling inside & out. Unique superbike-inspired speedometer too
• Excellent urban driveability from the diesel engine. Effortless to drive within city
• Vibrations surprisingly well-controlled for a 3 cylinder engine
• Equipment levels identical to the petrol. Full safety kit (ABS & Airbags) available
• Compliant ride quality. No bumpiness like other tall-boy hatchbacks
• Well packaged interiors (for 4)

What you won't:

• Motor lacks top-end punch. Not a sprightly highway performer at all
• Gruff engine note at higher rpms
• Compact 170 liter boot. 50 - 60 liters smaller than competition
• Very dull dark-grey interior shade. No beige option yet
• Some goodies missing (keyless entry, height adjustable driver seat)
• Small rear window creates a claustrophobic ambience at the back

NOTE: Click any picture to open a larger higher-resolution version in a new window.

Last edited by GTO : 25th July 2011 at 19:42. Reason: Updating price
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Old 14th July 2011, 12:50   #2
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Default Re: Chevrolet Beat TCDI Diesel : Test Drive & Review

Since the Chevrolet Beat has already been reviewed by Team-BHP, this report will only focus on the diesel engine & changes vis-a-vis the petrol. For easy reference, here are direct links to the full Chevrolet Beat test:

Exterior Design & Build Quality (Chevrolet Beat : Test Drive & Review)

Interior design, space, practicality & features (Chevrolet Beat : Test Drive & Review)

Other Pertinent Points (Chevrolet Beat : Test Drive & Review)

The Smaller & Significant Things (Chevrolet Beat : Test Drive & Review)

Last edited by GTO : 13th September 2011 at 13:19.
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Old 14th July 2011, 12:50   #3
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Default Re: Chevrolet Beat TCDI Diesel : Test Drive & Review

Externally, the Chevrolet Beat Diesel is nearly identical to its petrol sibling. The primary changes are:

165/65 R14 tyres, instead of the 155/70 R14 size of the petrol. A welcome move, you will remember my comment on the under-tyred nature of the Beat petrol. The 165 mm tyres do help in improving her poise.

Importantly, note that the diesel Beat's ground clearance @ 175 mm is 10 mm more than that of the petrol:


Proper USB port for your MP3 player:


Revv counter marked upto 6,000 rpm in the TCDI. Digital isn't as easy to read as the analogue type. Also notice how the fuel gauge has not moved after 65 kms of hard driving:


Bass, mid-range & treble get a wider adjustment range (-7 to +7). Sound didn't seem as flat as in the petrol variant:


And of course, the TCDI badging at the rear:


The Beat 1.2L petrol was well-priced to begin with; this gives Chevrolet a lot of room to give the diesel a VFM price tag. This car has the potential to become a game changer in the segment. For one, it's a no-nonsense city hatchback (more on that later) that might just be the cheapest diesel passenger car in India. Second, with the 3 cylinder diesel engine, the Beat TCDI is the first sub-1 liter turbo-diesel hatchback in the market. Third, its ARAI fuel efficiency numbers (24 kpl) are second only to the Tata Indica eV2 (25 kpl). With petrol prices shooting through the roof, the diesel Beat couldn’t have arrived at a more opportune time. The Beat petrol has been facing the heat for a couple of months now. Even its older sibling, the Spark, outsold it in recent months. General Motors might surely be hoping to replicate some of that Figo success that Ford has been enjoying lately, thanks in no small part to their 1.4L diesel engine.

This 936 cc 3-cylinder diesel is a derivative of our national engine, the Fiat 1.3L 4-cylinder MJD. Remember, the MJD was jointly developed by GM & Fiat and hence, unlike other manufacturers, Chevrolet does not need to pay Fiat any royalties for using the engine (or its derivatives). Further, this 3 cylinder variant has been exclusively developed by GM at its Technical Center (Bangalore) & GM Powertrain (Europe). Thus, the 3 cylinder is Chevrolet's alone; Fiat cannot use it even if it wanted to.

Many of you asked why Chevrolet has used a 3-cylinder engine in the diesel Beat. Here are two reasons, straight from the horse's mouth. One, it would be impossible to shoehorn the 4 cylinder 1.3L unit into the Beat's small engine bay. Second, lower cost of manufacturing and thus, ex-showroom price.

Chevrolet Beat TCDI Diesel : Test Drive & Review-0001.jpg

The feature list of the diesel & petrol Beat is identical. Therefore, unlike the strategy that Maruti & Nissan follow, you have the option of ABS & Airbags on the diesel. The top-end variant that I drove had dual front airbags, ABS, climate control, tilt-adjust steering, power windows, central locking, alloy wheels, integrated stereo with 4 speakers, roof rails, rear spoiler, rear wash & wipe and a parcel tray.

Last edited by GTO : 25th July 2011 at 21:52. Reason: Updating with price, since the Beat is now launched
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Old 14th July 2011, 12:50   #4
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Default Re: Chevrolet Beat TCDI Diesel : Test Drive & Review

Admittedly, I was skeptical about the missing cylinder. Memories of 3 cylinder diesels aren't pleasant, what with the unrefined Polo 1.2L or the crude & shaky 1.5L CRDi in the Accent. My top 2 concerns were excessive vibration & turbo-lag.

Chevrolet has badged its diesel as the Smartech TCDI. This 936cc DOHC 12v engine is rated at 58 BHP (@ 4,000 rpm) and 150 Nm of torque (@ 1,750 rpm):


The air-intake now moves to the right:


Quick look at the vital stats relative to other diesel hatchbacks. Least power to weight of all competitors, yet the torque to weight is on par with the Figo. The Marutis are about 20% ahead in the power to weight standings:
Chevrolet Beat TCDI Diesel : Test Drive & Review-chevrolet-beat-diesel-specifications.png

Crank the engine and the first thing you notice is the lack of any rocking motion felt on the steering wheel & gear lever. The vibrations are superbly controlled! This is much unlike the Polo, where you can feel a certain amount of vibration at idle. The motor is loud on the outside though, but that's only till you shut the door & windows. The Beat's heavy insulation keeps NVH at satisfactory levels on the inside upto 3,000 rpms.

Driveability within the city is a strength of the Beat TCDI. Typical of mild turbo applications (like in the Micra & Figo), there is a minimal amount of lag from the fixed geometry turbo-charger. Useable torque is available right from 1,600 rpms, a factor that greatly aids driveability. You can literally use 2nd or 3rd gear (depending on traffic density) as an automatic in typical urban driving conditions. The short gearing is ideal for puttering about in the city, and always keeps the engine in turbo zone. For instance, in 2nd gear at 30 kph or 3rd gear at 45 kph, the engine is already spinning at 2,000 rpm. Throttle response is very good under such driving conditions. Turbo-lag is hardly a bother, unlike the Marutis that suffer from it uptil 2,000 rpm. Fact is, you will need a down-shift to 1st only when coming to a dead halt. The rest of the time, you'll find the 2nd & 3rd gear ratios to be amazingly tractable. You can even cross speed breakers in 2nd gear itself, as long as you wait for the exact one second that it takes for the rpm to climb, & the turbo to start spooling. Mid-range is satisfactory as well, with the engine delivering useful torque through the 1,600 - 3,600 rpm band. The diesel Beat is far better in the city than its petrol sibling, thanks to nearly 50% more peak torque that is made at a far lower rpm. It's no scorcher though, and outright performance upto 100 kph can best be termed as "adequate". There is none of that sudden punch that the Swift diesel gives you at 2,000 rpm, with the Beat's power delivery remaining fairly linear. It's not peaky in nature at all.

While the lack of significant lag & short gearing give the diesel Beat superb in-city driveability, it's a different story on the highway where you will find that patience, indeed, is a virtue. This car is for the sedate driver, and not for the ones in a hurry. The Beat diesel doesn't have a problem cruising in a straight line at 100, or even 120 kph. But highway overtaking manouveurs need to be planned & the motor runs out of breath on the open road easily. This is no Swift or Micra diesel on the highway. You cannot downshift at high speed, and expect instant torque delivery. The power-to-weight ratio of 56.50 BHP / Ton is immediately evident. At 120 kph, the small 3 cylinder motor is already working very hard to maintain momentum. Plus, there is no real progress after 3,500 rpms either. Sure, if you push it, the motor will revv to its 5,000 rpm redline. But it will do so grudgingly, and without delivering any real pep in the 3,600 - 5,000 rpm range. Hence, it's best to adopt a relaxed driving style on the expressway. The key to extracting optimal performance of this motor is being realistic, and upshifting at 3,600 even when in a rush. 3 cylinder engines are generally very fuel efficient and thus, the Beat's ARAI rating of 24 kpl. That for the Figo 1.4L, Swift 1.3L and Micra 1.5L are 20, 21.7 & 23.08 kpl respectively. The Indica eV2, however, maintains bragging rights with its 25 kpl rating!



Chevrolet has done a phenomenal job with controlling the vibrations of the 3 cylinder diesel. As mentioned earlier, the NVH is satisfactory at idle. Even while driving about in the city, the vibrations remain well-controlled and neither the driver nor passenger will be complaining of any harshness. Get moving and right upto 3,000 rpms, noise levels remain at acceptable levels. All that heavy damping & hydraulic engine mounts must be doing their intended work. On the other hand, the engine note is rather grumpy, especially over 3,000 rpm. There is the characteristic 3-cylinder engine thrum as the revv needle climbs too.

You will remember how I termed the gearbox of the petrol Beat as "rubbery" in my review. The Beat Diesel's shift quality felt better, and the throw is noticeably more positive. Conversely, the hydraulic clutch is a little more weighted than the super-light one of the petrol car. The diesel's clutch pedal has a longer travel too, while all of the action is in the final 20%; there is no bite until the top quarter of the clutch. The taller amongst us will find it awkward as our left leg is in a rather awkward position when getting off the pedal (at its topmost position).

Ride quality remains a strong point, with the Beat feeling compliant even over rough road patches. There is absolutely no bounciness or bumpiness that cars like the i10 & Santro suffer from. Chevrolet has clearly tuned the suspension for comfort. The Beat is nippy within the city, yet the handling is at best sedate at speed. I'm glad that the tyre width has increased by 10 mm over the petrol. Straight line stability is fine and safe enough. Sudden lane change manouveurs now don't result in the tyres squealing easily, as we saw in the petrol. Body roll, though, is noticeable in fast corners. This car is not a handler (a la Swift or Figo) nor will it please the enthusiast in you. Drive it as a city hatch, know her limits and you should be safe. Remember, this is meant to be a family hatchback. The steering is a new electric unit (petrol Beat uses a hydraulic steering) that will soon make its way to the petrol Beat as well. It firms up sufficiently at speed, and feels a tad more direct. In the city, the steering remains super-light and effortless to use, including at parking speeds.

Here's a video of the new TCDI engine:

Last edited by GTO : 15th July 2011 at 10:21. Reason: Adding point on the Petrol Beat's hydraulic steering. Making it clearer
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Old 14th July 2011, 12:51   #5
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Default Re: Chevrolet Beat TCDI Diesel : Test Drive & Review

Other Points:

- 3 year / 100,000 kms standard warranty.

- Engine oil change interval of 15,000 kms or 1.5 years (whichever is earlier).

- No gear oil change for life. Plus, the TCDI uses a timing chain and hence, doesn't require a mid-life replacement (like cars with timing belts do).

- The first 3 cylinder diesel to be sold in India was the Accent CRDi, which incidentally was also the first common-rail diesel for <10 lakhs. You’ll be seeing a lot more 3 cylinder diesels in the future. Maruti & Hyundai will be watching the market’s response closely. After all, think of what a small diesel could do to the Alto or Santro.

- GM also unveiled the Electric Beat concept in recent time (link to thread (GM showcases the Chevrolet Beat Battery Electric Vehicle)), and already offers a factory fitted LPG kit (Link to thread (Chevrolet Beat LPG launched !!)).

- If you bring the engine close to the stalling point, the ECM automatically raises the rpms just a wee bit to keep you going.

- Suggestion made to Chevrolet : How about an Automatic diesel Beat? Has the potential to be affordable, fuel-efficient & driveable. Perfect city hatch, wot?

- I find it strange that Chevrolet is the last to launch (in India) the very engine that it jointly developed with Fiat. Maruti & Tata have gained tremendously from the 1.3L MJD.

- Would have been the perfect time to introduce beige interiors. A car like the Beat could really use it, as beige leads to a feeling of roominess. Things can get really dark & dull inside the Beat.

- Chevrolet India has about 240 dealers & service outlets as of date.

- Remember our visit to the Talegaon facility (Link to thread (GM's new engine plant at Talegaon, MH))? That’s where this engine is built too. Annual capacity of 160,000 engines.

- I really liked how the Beat doesn't reek of cost cutting like the more expensive Toyota Liva!

- If you were in any doubt as to who the direct competition is, this picture should provide a clarification enough. 3 Ford Figos were made available on our media drive for back-to-back comparisons:


- Disclaimer : Chevrolet invited Team-BHP for the Beat Diesel test-drive. They covered all the expenses for this driving event.

Last edited by GTO : 30th September 2011 at 10:00. Reason: Thanks to nevertouchme for the correction. Car indeed has a glow plug indicator
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Old 14th July 2011, 13:12   #6
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Default Re: Chevrolet Beat TCDI Diesel : Test Drive & Review

Excellent review GTO, as usual you have lived upto the high benchmark you have set with the earlier reviews. Hope the rumours of a killer pricing from GM come true.
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Old 14th July 2011, 13:21   #7
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Default Re: Chevrolet Beat TCDI Diesel : Test Drive & Review

fantastic review GTO

With the kind of snail paced traffic we see in metros today,the low bhp hardly makes a difference;in fact even a 35bhp engine would suffice for pure city use.

I was a big fan of beige interiors but started changing my opinion after seeing the Chevy Spark ; as they say,too much of anything is not good.

This Beat is sure to make others feel the heat.

pricing?let's see
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Old 14th July 2011, 13:39   #8
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Default Re: Chevrolet Beat TCDI Diesel : Test Drive & Review

Thx for the review GTO. Nice and crisp.
Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
The steering is apparently a new EPS unit that will make its way to the petrol Beat as well.
That's sad. One of the best things about the current petrol model is it's nice HPS.
Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Proper USB port for your MP3 player. This will replace the micro-USB slot of the petrol variant too, very soon:
In fact it's already there in all petrol Beats sold from Jan 2011
Quote:
Importantly, note that the diesel Beat's ground clearance @ 175 mm is 10 mm more than that of the petrol
Any idea how they achieved it. Asking because in the current petrol Beat the only problem in terms of ground clearance was the front bumpers which were a bit low.

Last edited by Daewood : 14th July 2011 at 13:45.
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Old 14th July 2011, 13:49   #9
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Default Re: Chevrolet Beat TCDI Diesel : Test Drive & Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Other Points:

- 3 year / 100,000 kms standard warranty.

- Engine oil change interval of 15,000 kms or 1.5 years (whichever is earlier).

- No gear oil change for life. Plus, the TCDI uses a timing chain and hence, doesn't require a mid-life replacement (like cars with timing belts do).

- Another reason I think Chevy is pushing for a competitive price; the difference here is between a 3 cylinder diesel and a 4 cylinder petrol (all of its competition have 4 cylinder diesels).

-

- Disclaimer : Chevrolet invited Team-BHP for the Beat Diesel test-drive. They covered all the expenses for this driving event.
Great review GTO.

I have felt the same when i drove the car 2 days ago, my inputs are put up on the Scoop thread.

I was unaware about the 15000km Oil change, that is fantastic, the salesman told me it is syntentic engine oil and not mineral Oil for sure.

yup the car will will cruze at 120km/hr speed but if we require more,then this car is surely not capable of doing that.

Eargerly waiting for the prices to be announced.
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Old 14th July 2011, 13:49   #10
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Default Re: Chevrolet Beat TCDI Diesel : Test Drive & Review

Great review or update for the diesel variant.

I am certain this should definitely have a positive effect of over 2X to Beat sales but skeptical that it will light up the way swift is selling or even Figo for that matter. Beat inherently being a small hatch (back seat, boot space) has its limitations in terms of its appeal. Also though it looks great to me, but it doesnt have the looks of a typical middle class family hatchback IMHO.

Pricing will prove crucial for it to become hot item in the market.
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Old 14th July 2011, 13:53   #11
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Default Re: Chevrolet Beat TCDI Diesel : Test Drive & Review

Wow, much awaited review.
Good to hear that Chevy did good job on keeping the engine vibrations under control.
IMO they need too keep it at least 50K cheaper then Figo to compete with it numbers wise.
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Old 14th July 2011, 13:55   #12
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Default Re: Chevrolet Beat TCDI Diesel : Test Drive & Review

Fantastic review GTO - top notch.

The USP of the car seems to be the in-city driveability thanks to the lack of turbo lag. The car looks fabulous and the quality of interiors look spot-on even though the "beige" flavour is missing.

The conservative boot space and strictly average highway capabilities make this a city-only car. Would be arduous to plan even a shot outstation trip with 4 people and some luggage on-board. 170L boot is truly a shocker.

Being the first sub 1L diesel and that too with improved NVH levels, Chevy needs to be applauded. This car being launched just before the new Swift due next month should make the months ahead interesting.
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Old 14th July 2011, 13:59   #13
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Default Re: Chevrolet Beat TCDI Diesel : Test Drive & Review

Excellent review & what a superb timing by Chevy in introducing this diesel version. IMHO, for a mass market city hatch, this could be really a game changer with the current & future fuel prices.

I am sure with a diesel tuning box, this could become a bit peppier & FTD also.

Good to know that 'cost cutting' is not evident -- a.l.a Liva.

If I were in market for a city hatch, the diesel beat would sure be a practical/logical option to consider.
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Old 14th July 2011, 14:00   #14
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Default Re: Chevrolet Beat TCDI Diesel : Test Drive & Review

I was expecting that GTO will update us with a review as soon as possible. A great and a quick review. As a city commuter Beat is OK, lacks in power if you would take it on highways. Worth watching all the diesel players who are in competion.

Tata also plans to come up with a diesel engine for Nano. But Beat falls in the category above Nano.

Last edited by yogeshnaik : 14th July 2011 at 14:03.
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Old 14th July 2011, 14:00   #15
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Default Re: Chevrolet Beat TCDI Diesel : Test Drive & Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by Daewood View Post
Thx for the review GTO. Nice and crisp.
That's sad. One of the best things about the current petrol model is it's nice HPS.
Helps moving to EPS for kmpl part and will be easier for city drives.

This should be the killer car deal if priced like we all heard.

Did I miss? ABS & Airbag is available for all versions?
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