One is a new entrant and the other has been ruling the mini-segment for a while. Here's more on Chevrolet Beat and Hyundai i10
The i10 has been the undisputed king of the mini-car segment for some time now. But General Motors' freshly minted Beat is just so alluring and capable that it's begging for a shot at the title. We check out these two Korean protagonists. The Beat has a massive cowl for a small car, the window or shoulder line drops for that aggressive tipped-forward stance, and the long headlights and pinched rear give it a sporty look. The i10 has looks positively tame. It has a more traditional-looking shape.
The Chevy's cabin has a sophisticated look, and the dash, in particular, looks good enough to be on a car twice its price. The integration of the stylistic wave that runs across it and the central console are truly special. At night the insides give off an icy blue glow, the quality of the buttons and dials is very good, and the cabin is crammed with intelligently-designed storage space. The three-spoke steering wheel and the floating instrument pod with its multi-function display add a sporty touch to the insides, which gels well with the overall design of the car. The Beat also has very impressive doorshut, the doors clamping shut with the precision of a submarine hatch.
The Hyundai is plenty of head. Interior quality is first rate too with nicely textured plastics and solid switchgear. But the i10 doesn't quite exude the richness of the Beat. The beige colour means it feels more airy but can get soiled easily and the strong reflection from the beige dashboard top hampers visibility.
Other than these few glitches, it's hard to fault the i10's logically laid out cabin. The gear lever has been moved to the dash to liberate more space. The front seats don't have the same lateral support as in the Beat but the seat base is wider, longer and offers far more under-thigh support. The taller i10's higher seating position provides an additional degree of comfort. At the rear, the i10 has marginally more head- and legroom but again it's the additional under-thigh support the i10 offers, which makes the difference. Also, you don't get that cooped-up feeling the narrow rear windows of the Beat deliver.
The Beat with its hip-hugging seats, swoopy dashboard and chunky three-spoke wheel has sportier pretensions , and the baby Chevy does live up to it initially. The 79bhp motor has a perky response, which is quite handy in stop-and-go traffic. It's just the mid-range which is not as strong, and you need to use the gearshift a fair bit if you are in a serious hurry. Overall performance is more than adequate and the car feels quicker than the 0-100kph time of 14.8 seconds suggests. GM India has cleverly used shorter gearing to compensate for any shortage of grunt. In fact, in-gear acceleration is pretty good, especially in the 40-100kph fourth gear slog, where the Beat is 7.5sec quicker than the i10.
Beat's stiff new chassis makes the suspension both pliant as well as fun on the run. The fact that this car comes with a hydraulic power steering gives it good feel. The i10 is similarly easy to drive in traffic, but its lighter electric steering feels slightly inert and not-so-agile. Despite having lower-profile tyres, the Beat glides over most bumps with a refined feel, and it's only really poor sections of roads that manage to upset it. The i10 is comfortable on a smooth road and feels bumpy on bad roads. Both motors produce 79bhp. But Hyundai's Kappa motor makes more torque in the lower part of its powerband and more power in its midrange. As a result it feels much faster. It's also freer-revving and doesn't feel as strained as the Beat's long-stroke motor. The Kappa engine's impressive flexibility makes the i10 effortless to drive in the city.
These cars are primarily designed to be driven in cities and not on highways but here in India, racking up a fair amount of highway miles in a mini-car is quite common.
City figures of 11.5kpl and 11.7kpl and a highway number of 15.3kpl and 16.0kpl for the Beat and i10 respectively are thanks to Hyundai's Kappa engine's ability to work with minimal effort across a wide range of speeds. The Beat's 1.2 motor doesn't quite have the torque spread and has to work harder and hence drinks a bit more.
The baby Hyundai is a thoroughly engineered and quality product with a strong blend of performance, space and practicality. The i10's appeal lies in its versatility which makes it a better all-rounder. However, the Chevy isn't far behind with its impressive ride and handling.