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Delhi show: And now the world for Chevrolet Beat

Beat up: Chevrolet’s Essentia sedan concept will form part of the next Beat line-up, not just for India but also other emerging markets.

GM hints at export plan for its next Indian-made, Spark-based Beat mini car


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3 Feb 2016

GENERAL Motors has hinted at export plans for its next-generation, Indian-built Chevrolet Beat mini car that broke cover in sedan and crossover concept guises at the Delhi Auto Expo today.

The Beat-based Chevrolet Essentia sedan and Activ soft-roader were penned at GM Korea’s design studio by a team led by Indian designer Harish Kumar in a project overseen by Melbourne-based GM International vice-president of design, Michael Simcoe.

Along with a freshly minted five-door Beat hatchback that is still under wraps, the Essentia sedan is slated for production from 2017, initially for India and then other emerging markets.

Under four metres long to comply with Indian tax breaks, the Indian Beat is related to the third-generation Spark that is now in run-out in other markets, including Australia.

Although the next Beat looks a lot like the all-new Spark that will go on sale in Australia in April, it is essentially a re-skin of the current Beat, retaining GM’s Gamma small-car architecture that is being superseded in western markets by the new-generation G2XX compact car platform.

Described in automotive design parlance as a new top hat, the move mirrors Ford’ s strategy in emerging markets where vehicles such as the Australian-developed, Fiesta-based Figo employ a hand-me-down architecture for affordability.

While GM India today confirmed that the new Beat variants will sit on the “proven” Beat platform, it described the underpinnings as “an advanced version”, suggesting it has made some updates to the Gamma layout.

Neither the Spark nor Beat have had sedan or crossover variants in previous iterations which date back to the ill-fated Daewoo Matiz that started production in 1998.

In its statement released at the Delhi show today, GM India describes the Essentia as a precursor to a new production car “that recognises the need for a traditional but richly appointed notchback”.

“Functionality is at its core to ensure there is room to comfortably fit five adults and plenty of luggage without any compromise to style,” it says. “It reflects the growing maturity and the sophistication of Indian consumers.” GM India was less forthcoming about production potential for the Beat Activ, saying it is “a response to India’s maturing market and aspirational lifestyle”.

According to Indian press speculation, the 2017 Beat is expected to carry over the current Beat’s three-cylinder engine options – the 42kW/142Nm 1.0-litre diesel and 57kW/106Nm 1.2-litre petrol.

While the show cars get the latest MyLink2 infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, they only get two airbags.

The company confirmed its export aspirations for the next Beat range, saying that although the Essentia and Beat Activ had been designed for India, “GM believes they have global appeal”.

This is unlikely to include western markets such as Australia, North America and Europe, where the new G2XX-based Spark and related Vauxhall Viva and Opel Karl will be as low as it goes.

Mr Simcoe said the Essentia and Beat Activ shared one platform but had two distinct personalities.

“The Essentia is refined and sophisticated, while the Beat Activ is young, more aggressive and spirited,” he said. “These vehicles demonstrate how we design global cars, ensuring they are tailored to meet local tastes.”

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