Sunday, September 12, 2010
After driving my Alto LXI for just over 2 years, i decided to go for a upgrade. Alto is a evergreen performer in the city with good mileage and low cost of ownership. I had brought Alto as my first car since i was a novice driver then and friends and relatives advised me to go for a small car first to get proficient with my driving first.
My driving trips also included occasional highway driving and at times i felt the strain of driving long hours in Alto, especially driving for almost 3 hours on the expressway and then getting stuck in B2B traffic in Mumbai made my problems even more worse.
I started getting poor customer service from Kothari Wheels dealer for Maruti here in Pune, getting my car serviced from them was turning out to be a painful affair. Getting service appointments, scheduling pickups was getting difficult. Service rep who used to come to pickup the vehicle hardly stopped to take a look at any issues i had to point out specifically for car repairs.
My front power window had got some motor fault for which they did not have the motor in stock, so they did regular servicing and informed me that they would have it ordered and call me up. I was the one constantly following up was getting poor response from kothari wheels.
While this was going on, i was already having my upgrade plans working in the background, still i was not sure if i would be going for it. I had Maruti Suzuki Ritz VXI, Ford Figo Petrol ZXI and Beat LT on my upgrade list.
Here's the on road price band of these cars:
Maruti Suzuki Ritz VXI - INR 4,92,180
Ford Figo Petrol ZXI - INR 4,64,677
Chevrolet Beat LT - INR 4,61,226
So i chucked out Ritz from my list because with 31K higher in price than Figo and Beat it did not offer features like CD player, Rear Wash Viper, Automatic climate control, Rear De-fogger, Steering Adjustment.
Ford Figo is a breakthrough car for Ford India, it is proved itself to be a runaway success for Ford since it's launch capturing a major consumer segment away from Hyundai and Maruti and is seriously challenging their hatchback market now. That is why both Maruti and Hyundai are now coming up with a face lift version of i10 and Swift.
Figo is roomier in the rear and with largest boot space in its category it commands due respect for being launched in the diesel variant also at the right time. where Chevrolet seems to have missed the bus. i never got an opportunity to test drive Figo due to rigid and stupid attitude of Talera Ford,Satara Road dealer in Pune and reviews and feedback on poor FE in the petrol variant, with already burdened dealer network in terms of after sales made me back away from Ford.
I was then taking a chance with Chevrolet as a company which still does not enjoy the confidence amongst consumers like the Maruti and Hyudai cars do. As a product Chevrolet Beat had won my heart from the time i had spotted it in motion during a trip in December 2009 on the Mumbai-Pune E-Way, when i took some pics of a misty lake colored Beat being TD on the highway,check the pic below.
Finally i got my Alto LXI exchanged with Beat LT in a duration of 2 weeks, so detailed review of my car now starts.
Dealer Feedback:My feedback for dealer Pashankar Auto wheels Pvt Ltd. would be below average. The purchase process began on a good note, I was given test drive of Beat to my satisfaction with the dealer staff helpful enough to assist me in getting fair value for my 2 year old Alto LXI also the sales executive involved in the purchase process was helpful to come with me to get the affidavit done for me at collectors office required for address proof.
I was told i would be eligible for the Gold rush offer, which actually was a lucky draw scheme, however the sales executive goofed up on the offer informing me that i would also be eligible for a assured gold coin offer, which was not the case. He also gave me wrong information related to cashless ownership offer which he corrected later.
The day i took my car delivery from the dealer, arrangement's were done to conduct pooja, Satara road showroom of Pashankar Auto is well maintained. I asked for a written confirmation on assured gold coin offer on which the dealer retracted, i smelled rat here and confirmed again with the assistant sales manager if the assured gold coin offer held good in my case. He confidently told me that i would get a call from GM to collect my gold coin after which i need to come to the showroom and collect it.
I have now escalated this issue to GM, waiting for a final response, anyways i am not interested to drag the matter much however it gave me an indication that this dealer had a misinformed staff. Also recently Talera Chevrolet has closed down in Pune due to which temporarily Pashankar Auto Wheels is enjoying a monopoly here in the city.
I liked the way my buying process was handled with less sales talk and more professional approach, the whole thing was spoiled by the wrong information provided, Chevrolet should take a note of this "Buying Cars is not like Buying Tomatoes".
Now the feedback on car
Build, Design and Looks: Beat is a very stable car in terms of it's build. The muscular exterior is well complemented by striking look at the grill in the front. This is one car that looks beautiful both in and out
City Driving: Beat is fun to ride in the city also, for some drivers raised dashboard and a akward A-Pillar placement could be a let down for some. Luckily i have not faced much issues related to it up to now. The moment you hold the steering you get a judgment of the road automatically. There were problems around 2nd Gear pick up earlier which are now resolved with ECU upgrade done on my car during the first free check up. The engine is super silent and feels super smooth while driving. There is no engine knocking problem while you drive on a low speed on 3rd - 4th gear. city FE up to now has reached up to 14 kmpl
Highway driving performance: I could not record the exact FE during the first trip with my Beat on the Mumbai Pune Expressway, however i felt the ride more comfortable and stress free on the highway. Touched max 140 kmph speed. One needs to be cautious while driving at high speeds in ghat type landscape because the OEM tyres are not so stable at high speeds on highway. There are some patches on the highway which required me to ride on the 3rd gear to get torque on slopes. Beat cruised well on these patches on the 5th gear with the engine rpm above 2K level and with proper luggage and passenger load.
Initial reviews around Beat had raised queries around the suspension and GC, no problems here again. I can hardly feel any thump or bump of potholes or bad roads to my feet while driving and at the same time also i have driven over variety of speed breakers of different heights, one of which had brushed my Alto below earlier in my office parking.
Beat's engine gets roaring once you cross 2K RPM mark, so a word of advice on keeping a good FE, do not race your Beat at short distance much and try to keep the rev band of your engine between 1.8K to 2.5K while driving in the city
Beat is a product with good potential lagging behind right now in the crowd of new hatchback launches plagued by poor marketing and lackluster after sales service attitude of GM also the kind of styling and design it carries does not suite to the sobre taste of Indian consumer much, since when it comes to car buying, it's more of a family affair than of individual choice.
I decided to take a risk with Beat and IMO it has paid off well with the car and not with the company i can say though i found their servicing charges economical enough, In Pune Chevrolet needs to come up at least with another service center on the eastern corridor of the city.
I got 3M one package for my car @8K with car paint protection, engine coating and under body protection from the dealer. changed stock speakers to Illusion series which now delivers high fidelity music, clear treble sound and apt bass output (not thumping though)
Closing comments with pros and cons
Excellent ride quality and handling
Super silent engine
Ample legroom at front seat and comfortable leg room at the rear seats also.
Economical FE and servicing costs.
Turn's heads wherever you go
Less boot space
Lack of seat height adjustment
Lazy after sales service response from GM
Local dealer issue (Pashankar Auto Wheels Pvt Ltd.)
Rear window placement may not suit everyone
Not suitable to seat 3 in the rear seat (in any case one of the is oversize) else no issues.
Some BEAT Moments to share:
A guy was clicking pics of my car in the company parking basement as i was leaving for the day, admiring my car from all angles like a curious child. hurried away in embarrassment as he spotted me approaching towards my car, leaving a wide grin on my face.
At Pune camp i was at one of the electronic store where a guy was with his brother and his sister-in-law, i stepped out of the store to move in the opposite lane, as again came at the road crossing moving towards my car, i saw the same guy and his family discussing about my car as they were having roadside snacks, the guy was going ga-ga about the Beat, as he saw me approaching towards the car, he gave me a thumbs up smiling back at me.
The very first day i got my car i went to BP petrol pump at Mundhwa village, a rickshaw driver stopped by next to my car for fuel top up, waved back at me indicating with a wide smile.
Recently a traffic constable walked up to my car while i was stuck in the Hinjewadi IT park traffic lane, he left me tense for a moment, by the time he came close to my window he curiously looked at my cars odometer and dashboard and asked me what was all the tech about on the tripmeter and odometer
I am getting used to gazes on the road, people popping their heads sometimes out of their cars to have a close look at my Beat, even kids watching at my beat from their school buses or rickshaws with a sparkle in their eyes, leaves a nice feeling inside your heart.
So it's just not the beauty but the beast within that defines this machine. I am really happy with my purchase decision to go for Beat, video review of my beat below followed by a video for beat made by me.