Can't Beat Chevrolet's latest diesel
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Can't Beat Chevrolet's latest diesel

The new Chevrolet Beat TCDi could just be what the market wants, given the rising petrol prices, but let’s see if General Motors has really set the market. And the baby Chevy gets a much-needed boost in the form of an efficient diesel heart.

autos Updated: Aug 30, 2011 00:40 IST

The new Chevrolet Beat TCDi could just be what the market wants, given the rising petrol prices, but let’s see if General Motors has really set the market.

GM’s SDE Smartech motor is related to the famous four-cylinder multijet diesel, which was jointly developed by GM and Fiat. For the Beat, one cylinder was knocked off paring down the engine from 1,248cc to 936cc to make it the smallest diesel engine in any car today. Once fired up, the oil burner settles down being remarkably smooth and quiet when idling. Out on the roads, it feels at home in slow-moving traffic. The small engine ambles around in a higher gear with the rev counter needle hovering above 1,000rpm. The powerband spreads up to 3,500rpm and the short gear ratios, especially first and second, amplify the 15.29kgm of torque to make driving in the city remarkably easy.

In the powerband, the Beat diesel responds to throttle inputs with an assertive manner. But don’t expect it to be exciting. In our run from 20-80kph in third gear, the Beat diesel took 14.1 seconds — quicker than the Beat petrol (15.9sec) but is over a second slower than the three-cylinder 1.2-litre Polo diesel. The punchy mid-range can be gauged by the 40-100kph sprint in fourth gear which takes a respectable 16.48 seconds.

Once you head out onto the open road, the SDE Smartech’s lack of displacement becomes apparent. The run from 0-100kph takes a relaxed 18.5sec and overtaking manoeuvres are quite laborious.

In our fuel runs, the Beat delivered 19.1kpl out on the highway and an astounding 16kpl in the city. The frugal nature of the Beat diesel is clearly its trump card. GM India has also improved the ride further by switching to new gas-charged shock absorbers and wider 165/65-R14 Goodyear tyres, making the ride quality superb for such a small car.

GM has also replaced the Beat’s hydraulic steering system with a sophisticated electrically-powered steering which provides variable assistance. The top-end variant comes with powered windows and automatic air-conditioning. ABS and airbags are also on offer.

Fuel: Diesel
Installation: Front, transverse
Layout: 3-cyls in-line, 936cc
Bore/stroke: 69.7/82mm
Compression ratio: 16.5:1
Valve gear DOHC, 4 valves per cyl
Power: 58.5bhp at 4,000rpm
Torque: 15.29kgm at 1,750rpm
Transmission: Front-wheel drive
Gearbox: 5-speed manual
Construction: Five-door hatchback, monocoque
Weight: 1,027kg
Tyres: 165/65-R14, tubeless
Turning circle: 8.9m
Brakes: (f/r) Ventilated discs, drums

With a young hip feel to it, the Chevrolet Beat diesel is easy to drive in the city and offers a comfortable ride. It may be a bit too small for a family car and the lack of a punchy engine shows on the highway. However, its USP is definitely the incredible fuel efficiency. The base PS version starts at Rs 4.29 lakh, and the next variant, LS, is priced at Rs 4.59 lakh. The LT is priced at Rs 4.99 lakh and the top-end LT with option pack is priced at Rs 5.45 lakh.

Autocar India

First Published: Aug 29, 2011 19:06 IST