They Told Him Don’t You Ever Come Around Here
Don’t Wanna See Your Face, You Better Disappear
The Fire’s In Their Eyes And Their Words Are Really Clear
So Beat It, Just Beat It…
I could never have enough of some of MJ’s classics. There was something blunt and raw about them right from the first time I’ve heard them. Especially when I am driving alone. I liked the company that these songs give on long drives.
But there is a specific reason why I referred to this particular song at the top. Yes, I was driving along at that instance; but no, I wasn’t driving alone. But then, I was driving the Chevrolet Beat. And when this song came along as me and my friend was putting his new car through its paces, I couldn’t help but be amused at the coincidence.
The Beat is indeed, an amusement. It was launched amid much fanfare, with GM pinning high hopes on it. Now, almost a year after it has been launched has it done enough justice to the initial hype? One can’t be sure, as it hasn’t done exceedingly well nor has it done poorly!
I got to see the car for the first time in the second Transformers movie. That was a slick way for GM to promote the car. One look at the car and GM’s target was evident. It was an unconventional design, what with the differently placed rear door handles (some would call it oddly placed) and all. It was aimed directly at the younger lot. There was no conservative approach which is seen from a lot of manufacturers nowadays due to the need to cater to a wide spectrum of people. By doing so, GM made an ‘in-your-face’ statement as to whom that car was meant. They followed it up with appropriate ads on the car too. I liked that. It had to be appreciated.
Now, thinking on these lines, I would say that GM has managed to get a winner out of the Beat. They were restricting their target customers but still have managed to sell very appreciable numbers.
When this friend of mine told me that he had got the Beat, I was happy for him. Here was one guy who hadn’t fallen prey to the Swift or i10 stigma. Not that it is a bad thing, but it is nice when people begin to understand that there are equally better cars elsewhere.
I was looking forward to driving his car. I hadn’t driven the Beat much earlier. Just took it out on a test drive at the time when it was launched. This was a good opportunity for me to feel the car.
First thing you notice as you climb inside the car is that this car too has been generously bestowed with good visibility from the driver’s seat which is a characteristic of all ‘tall boy’ design cars. For a new driver like my friend, the visibility boosts the confidence before you even start the car.
Inside there are a few surprises. Firstly, there were many more oddly placed and shaped cubby holes or orifices or vents or whatever one may want to call them. Even though they seemed odd initially, upon closer inspection, I realised that each one of them was meant to hold something or give you additional storage space.
Some examples of these would be the slit like opening in front of the front passenger seat which will be very good in holding envelopes, paper tokens, small pouches etc. which would otherwise find no meaningful place. Then to the front right side of the driver, there is a small, deep opening with cuts in the middle, which can be used to store coins. The design makes it easier to retrieve coins from this slit. Now how helpful is that, considering the number of times we have to pay toll while accessing many modern day highways!
At the rear, a major factor for any car in India is the rear leg room. In this, Beat falls into the category into which majority of the cars in India fall – the ‘Just Enough’ category. Taller people in the back seat going for long journeys might be a not-so-comfy combination. The smaller rear windows might also tend to make the rear claustrophobic, again especially when you have three people at the back and the journey is long. Another discomforting feature which needs to be pointed out is the driver side power window buttons. Even though they are on the door, they have been nestled at an awkward place on the door which makes it difficult to access them. You really need to bend your elbow and arm sideways to access them, sitting in the driver’s seat.
It is nice to see the indicator and viper stalks where they ought to be; at the right and left of the steering wheel, respectively. It was not the case on the Spark and I had assumed that it would be the same case with the Beat too.
Even though the Beat did surprise me with some nice and some not-so-nice little touches here and there, I knew for it to really make an impression it had to have a good heart. The 1.2 K Series from the Swift and 1.2 Kappa from the i10 are prime reasons why those cars sell well. The Beat’s 1.2 had been trying to keep up and had recently gone ‘Smartech’.
Driver her through the city and you will realise she is designed keeping Indian city conditions in mind. The torque is more than enough to pull from lower rpm ranges which was a big boon while navigating through a Sunday afternoon Chennai Marina Beach road. Even with the AC on, there was no stuttering or stalling at 20 KMPH in 3rd gear. The gear shift was a bit rough and I assume it might be to do with the new car.
On paper, the Beat belts out around 83 PS of power at 6400 rpm. This means that this car should also be able to manage highways appreciably. Even though I couldn’t hit any highways, I was able to hit some empty streets where I was able to give it some stick. The pull was linear and effortless and one thing I particularly liked was the grunt from the engine and the noise it made. It did not make the high pitched ‘don’t hurt me’ shrieks that you get to hear from small cars nowadays but a rather bold ‘from the belly’ boom which I am sure would thrill any car lover.
After this mixed driving, I wasn’t sure if I will be able to get the right fuel efficiency figures. But after doing some basic math, I can say that the Beat returned around 13-14 in the city with the AC on.
The Beat wouldn’t be as fast or as quick as the Swift or as clinical or downright as an i10. But it does appeal to you in a lot of ways. There seems to be a purpose with this car. And in spite of it’s over the top stying, it wants to be able to cater to family needs too. These styling cues coupled with usability make it a good option. Consider the 3 years/100000 kms warranty that comes along with it and the Beat transforms into a very potent package.
Would I buy one?
Well, If I was looking to stand out among the crowd and needed an all round car which does all its functions more than well, I would surely ‘JUST BEAT IT’!!!