The Beat’s funky looks have been its USP, with many choosing it simply for the hatchback’s in-your-face styling and interiors. However, for the all-round buyer, a chink in the Beat’s armour was the sluggish engine. Chevrolet seems to be listening and has launched the improved version of the existing engine to address this deficiency. Titled Smartech, the engine now uses graphite coating for the piston skirts for lower friction, and a chain drive for the timing belt.
Chevrolet has even reduced the engine’s weight by using a lighter crankshaft, rocker-less DOHC camshaft and a plastic intake manifold. The results are evident as soon as you crank the engine. When idling, it’s more silent and vibration-free compared to the older engine.
The low-end responses have improved too and there is no hesitation while taking standstill starts. The Beat has a perky throttle response, which is useful in stop-and-go traffic. But even though the midrange has improved, you can still notice the lack of outright punch. It’s not a particularly effortless motor. You can extract respectable performance from it but you need to work it hard.
The Smartech motor has a decent top-end and pulls strongly to its rev limit, but its thrashy and raucous nature at high revs don’t encourage you to visit the red line. The attractive interior, combined with its impressive quality, makes it quite a special place to be in.
The instruments and switches operate with a meaty feel and the nicely textured plastics are among the best we have seen in a small car. The front seats are quite comfy with good lower back support. Space at the rear is decent but the dark interiors with the small windows give a claustrophobic feeling.
Excellent ride quality
The Beat’s suspension is tuned towards ride rather than handing. The ride quality is outstanding for such a small car that soaks up bumps with remarkable ease. Unlike many cars in its segment, the Beat feels at home on the highway too and shows good composure at high speeds. Athough not sporty, handling is safe.
Price Rs 4.20 lakh
Track (front/rear) 1,408/1,403mm
Engine 4 cyls in-line, 1,199cc petrol, DOHC
Installation Front, transverse, front-wheel drive
Compression ratio 9.8:1
Power 82.06bhp at 6,400rpm
Torque 11.01kgm at 4,400rpm
Gearbox 5-speed manual
Fuel tank 35 litres
Boot volume 170 litres
Tyre size 155/70 R14
At Rs 4.20 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi), the Beat Smartech is reasonably priced and costs only R 5,000 more than the old car. Thanks to the tweaked engine, the Beat is better to drive but does fall short of the benchmark set by the Maruti K-series and Hyundai Kappa motors.