Chevrolet has just updated its slow-selling Beat diesel hatchback to revive buyer interest in what is one of the most affordable diesel cars in our market. The facelifted car's cosmetic upgrades make it an interesting package but can it take the fight to the popular Hyundai Grand i10? Here are our impressions.
Performance and refinement
The Beat is powered by a 1.0-litre diesel engine that makes 58.5bhp and 15.2kgm of pulling power. It’s got a bit of throttle lag below 2000rpm but after that, power delivery is more perky than the Grand i10, and it moves forward easily as soon as you take your foot off the clutch. However, if you push it a little hard, the engine feels out of breath. It’s also quite an audible engine, at idle or on the move, and this mainly comes down to it having three cylinders.
The Grand i10 is powered by a slightly bigger 1.1-litre diesel motor. The power output of 70bhp and 16.3kgm torque is also higher than the Beat’s. The power delivery is very linear, with minimal delay, and it pulls nicely from as low as 1500rpm. Refinement wise, the Grand i10 is much smoother, and the three-cylinder motor retains its composure even when worked hard. The dash-mounted gearlever is slicker and more precise than the Beat’s gearbox as well.
Ride and handling
The Beat impresses in this department and is definitely the sportier of the two. The suspension does a good job of suppressing uneven surfaces. The ride is pliant at low speeds and a lot more composed at higher speeds as well. The tyres afford enough grip and the Beat inspires a lot of confidence when driven fast. But the brakes are only average and a little more bite and progressive feel would have been welcome.
This is where the Grand i10 loses out to the more sorted Beat. Its soft suspension is comfortable at city speeds, but the light steering doesn’t inspire much confidence at speed, and there is some body roll through the corners too. The Grand i10 feels best when you drive it at medium speeds and it stays pretty stable when driving in a straight line too. However, it isn’t anywhere close to being as reassuring to drive as the Beat.
The Beat’s interiors are a bit too ‘boy racer’ in comparison to the more mature i10, and they are a bit too grey too. However, the quality of materials used is quite decent and it feels well put together. It’s easy to find a comfortable driving position, thanks to seat height adjustment and a steering that has rake adjust. The low dash and thin A pillars even gives shorter drivers great visibility. The analog speedo is clearly legible, but the digital display is difficult to read.
The Grand i10’s cabin is very good even for a Hyundai and everything feels beautifully built. The cabin design looks more mature than the Beat’s, with two-tone interiors and a nice information screen on top of the dash. The big dials are clear, the chunky controls function well, and the cabin is well insulated too. The quality of plastics is also very good, especially on the dashboard and the door pads, and it feels much more premium than the Beat.
Space and practicality
The Beat does fall a bit short here — its rear seat is short on width and legroom, and seating three abreast here is next to impossible. The front seats, however, have decent space and medium-sized adults won’t have any complaints. But for passengers with larger frames, the seats are a size too small and they will find them uncomfortable over long journeys. There are also plenty of cubby holes for storing stuff, and the door pockets offer generous space for big bottles as well.
In terms of space, the i10 does a better job than the Beat. The large front seats are well contoured and the seat cushioning is good. The rear seats are comfortable too, and space in the back is much more than in the Beat due to the extended wheelbase. Its wide dimensions also allow three adults to sit in reasonable comfort, and its boot can easily accommodate a weekend’s worth of luggage. The i10 is the one to choose if you make those out-of-town trips with a full complement of passengers.
The Beat diesel is available in four variants. The top-of-the-line LT option variant is well equipped. It gets 13-inch alloy wheels, leather-wrapped steering wheel, ABS, two airbags, steering-mounted controls, fog lamps, height adjustable driver’s seat, rear defogger, rear wash and wipe, power windows and power steering. However, it misses out on some important features like rear parking sensors, electric mirror adjust and Bluetooth connectivity.
Like all Hyundais, the i10 is very well equipped. This top-end Asta trim has everything the Beat offers, and then some. It has rear parking sensors, two airbags, front fog lamps, alloy wheels, a six-speaker audio system with USB, aux and Bluetooth connectivity and one GB internal memory. There’s also automatic climate control, a cooled glovebox, electric folding mirrors, height adjustable driver’s seat and ABS as standard.
While the Chevrolet Beat's updates do improve its appeal, and it's still a comfortable and economical urban runabout, it loses out on grounds of refinement, level of equipment and simply doesn't feel as upmarket as the Grand i10. The Hyundai is definitely the most accomplished car in its class with its ease of driving, space on the inside, quality levels and equipment. The Grand i10 is our pick as the better hatchback.