Just last week, CarToq put out an analysis on what an interesting proposition the Chevrolet Beat diesel would make for the Indian market with its 1-litre diesel engine. And this week, we find that our research into the likely specifications of the Beat diesel were pretty accurate. Read: Why a diesel Beat is hard to beat
NDTV got a preview of the Beat diesel at General Motors plant in Talegaon recently and confirmed the specifications of the car. The Beat diesel will be powered by a 936 cc, 3-cylinder “Smartech” diesel engine that produces 58 PS of power at 4000 rpm and 150 Nm of torque at 1,750 rpm, mated to a five-speed manual transmission.
There are no other major changes to the Beat diesel compared to its petrol sibling, except that the diesel Beat uses electronic power steering instead of hydraulic power. Electronic power steering helps in improving mileage as it takes the load off the engine, and is also easier to package as it does not require elaborate plumbing like a hydraulic unit.
NDTV says that the Beat diesel is supposed to have an ARAI-certified fuel consumption of 24 kmpl, which makes it one of the most fuel-efficient diesel cars in the country, next to the Tata Indica EV2 (25 kmpl). And though it makes lesser power, the torque figures, as we had guessed, will work really well for a small car like the Beat.
Betting on smart positioning
All that’s left now for this car to run away with the sales charts is to see how General Motors pitches it against the competition. And the competition is tough. Look at the diesel hatchback line-up. The Ford Figo diesel, Tata Indica eV2, Tata Indica Vista multijet, Maruti Swift diesel and Maruti Ritz diesel are the cars that the Chevrolet Beat diesel must Beat. Other diesel hatchbacks such as the Hyundai i20, Volkwagen Polo and Skoda Fabia are likely to be priced much above the price band in which the Beat diesel will be launched.
The Beat diesel is likely to be launched with a very high degree of localization, given that the Smartech diesel engine (a derivative of the 1.3-litre Multijet from Fiat) is produced at its plant in Talegaon. The plant has the capacity to make 1.6 lakh units a year, and can be expanded to 3 lakh units. This capability should allow for very aggressive pricing of the diesel Beat and cater to demand easily.
At present, the petrol version comes in four variants, priced between Rs. 3.56 lakhs to Rs. 4.66 lakhs ex-showroom Delhi. We’re assuming the diesel variant would be about Rs. 40,000 more expensive than the petrol variant.
This, we assume, would allow GM to price a base variant of the Beat diesel at about Rs. 3.95 lakhs and the fully loaded top-end variant (with climate control, dual airbags, music system and ABS) at Rs. 5 lakhs ex-showroom Delhi.
Beating the competition
If GM can actually manage these prices at launch, the car will be hard to ignore. Because, if you look at the competition, only the Tata Indica eV2 diesel is priced at Rs. 3.95 lakhs (for the no-frills base variant) and goes up to Rs. 4.5 lakhs ex-showroom Delhi, but this car does not offer as much features as the Beat. The Indica eV2 is popular with the commercial segment, but not so hot with individual buyers. Individuals may prefer the Beat diesel for its radical styling, hi-tech instrumentation and better build quality. The Beat may also have much better drivability due to its good torque to weight ratio, compared to the Indica.
It’s not the Indica that the Beat has to really slug it out with, but the Ford Figo which is going to be a much tougher opponent. The Figo diesel’s prices start at Rs. 4.58 lakhs for the no-frills variant and goes up to Rs. 5.49 lakhs for the top-end Titanium variant. The Beat diesel comes close to the Figo’s 1.4 TDCI diesel engine on torque specs (150 Nm vs 160 Nm), and the fact that the Beat has a smaller, lighter turbocharger, would mean that it has better power delivery from low down in the rev-range, though it may not be as punchy as the Figo’s motor for flat-out driving. The Figo’s claimed mileage is 20 kmpl, but it gives about 16 kmpl in real world conditions. The Figo and Indica, however, have a lot more boot space.
If you take the Figo’s figures as a benchmark, then the Beat’s claimed 24 kmpl mileage will still be a winner, as even under hard driving the three-cylinder’s mileage isn’t likely to fall below 18 kmpl. Now that’s something to think about.
What we think
The Beat diesel is likely to be priced at Rs 3.95 lakh for the base variant. And the top-end variant is likely to be priced at Rs 5 lakh. Stay tuned for more updates.
Specifications at a glance
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