Bajaj Auto first unveiled the Bajaj Qute as the RE60 on 3rd January 2012, at the 2012 Auto Expo in Delhi. Bajaj Auto is best known for scooters (not anymore) and three-wheeled auto-rickshaws, and is India’s second-largest two-wheeler manufacturer and is a world leader in three-wheeled vehicles. The Qute is Bajaj’s first foray into the four-wheel market. At its unveiling back in 2012, the company announced that the car had high fuel efficiency of 35 km/l and low carbon dioxide emissions. The Bajaj Qute is a Rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive, four -passengers quadricycle and is aimed primarily at the Indian domestic market in India, the Qute is not legally classified as a car, therefore could not be sold to individuals back then. On 22 May 2013, The Central Government legally classified it as a quadricycle. The Qute is unable to reach speeds of 80 km/h and therefore it’s only allowed to be used for commercial purposes, primarily to replace the auto-rickshaws.
It’s not a Car!
Bajaj Auto has created an all-new segment in the automobile sector in India known as the Quadricycle, namely the Bajaj Qute. Bajaj has categorically specified that Qute is not a car and its whole and sole purpose is for intracity commute only, and hence, it doesn’t come with any safety features whatsoever, except the seatbelts for all four occupants. It also doesn’t come with an air-conditioner or power steering or even a fan for that matter. The Qute perfectly bridges the gap between a cab and a three wheeled auto-rickshaw. Dimensionally, it’s exactly the same as the Bajaj auto-rickshaw. But, being a four wheeler it’s more stable over the three-wheeled auto-rickshaw and can accommodate decent amount of luggage too. With four doors all over, the Qute protects the passengers sitting inside from moderate to heavy rains, unlike the open auto-rickshaw which barely comes with any rain protection. Moreover, Bajaj claims that the running cost of the CNG powered Qute are lesser than that of a two wheeler with an engine capacity of up to 150cc.
Exterior & Styling
When it comes to looks the Bajaj Qute is a very cute looking quadricycle. You’ll either love the quirky styling of the Bajaj Qute or absolutely hate it, there’s no middle ground. Even though the dimensions of the Qute are similar to that of the auto-rickshaw, it somehow looks smaller and awkwardly taller. The Qute comes with a high strength sheet metal monocoque body. The main frame of the Qute is made up of metal, front and rear fenders are metal, the rooftop is also hard metal and the A, B and C-pillars are also metal for added strength and safety. What makes the Qute interesting and lighter is the use of impact resistant plastics. The hood and doors are all made up of plastics; the storage under the hood is also plastic and provides adequate protection from the rains. The front and rear bumpers are all black and are made up of light weight plastics too. Come to the side and the first thing you’ll notice the tiny length of the car and the tiny doors. The windows on the door cannot be rolled down instead the slide both ways. The sliders itself has tiny vents to let air inside the cabin when the quad is on the move.
The Qute comes with decently sized 12-inch alloy wheels (standard equipment) which lends the quad some character and adds to the overall look. The Bajaj Qute comes with simple looking twin multi-reflector headlamps with integrated turn signal indicators and the big Bajaj Qute emblem sits right in the middle. The front bumper functional and has a massive air-dam which sucks up all the air when the vehicle is in motion and directs the air inside the cabin via an opening which is placed on the A-pillars. Even the rear view mirrors are designed in such a way that it directs all the air inside the cabin when on the move. Coming to the rear, the Qute houses its engine within the rear bumper. The rear windshield is enclosed in a blacked out plastic frame and right below that the Bajaj Qute emblem is placed. The tail-lamps are very basic and houses the turn signal indicator, reversing light, brake light and a multi-reflector to make is visible in the dark if ever the brake lights don’t work. Overall, the Bajaj Qute is very tiny and quirky looking quadricycle which commands a lot of attention.
Interiors, Comfort & Safety
Step inside the Bajaj Qute and you’ll be surprised to see the amount of space on offer. The tallish stance and low seating arrangement of the quad adds to the sense of space inside the cabin. Front seats are extremely basic and only the driver side seat can be adjusted to move forward and backward only it cannot be reclined, the co-driver seat is fixed and gets no adjustability whatsoever. The seat offers adequate under thigh support and back support, but, skips the headrests altogether. The steering is placed in such a way that it sits below the shoulder level. It’s a two-spoke basic looking plastic steering wheel with a horn placed right at the centre and its quality is below average to say the least. The dashboard again is made up of plastic and the instrument cluster and the sequential gear-shifter sits in the middle of the dashboard. The dashboard gets two decently sized storage boxes which can be locked. The instrument cluster houses a very basic trapezoidal analogue speedometer surrounded by all the tell-tale lights and right below it sits the orange backlit LCD. The LCD gives out all the required information such as the fuel level indicator, gear position indicator (very helpful as the Qute sports a sequential gearbox), a digital clock, an odometer and a trip meter. There are two switches placed on either side of the LCD, one on the left is to switch modes (Petrol/ CNG) and the one on the right to set/ reset the clock and trip meter.
The steering mechanism is exposed the brake and clutch pedals are bare bone basic. The spare wheel is placed under the dashboard near the co-driver seat (thankfully it’s covered) and the jack and spanner is placed exposed right next to it. The handbrake is oddly placed on the right side of the driver seat which took some time getting used to. We were surprised to see a Radio/ MP3 player with a remote controller in the Qute, which by the way also has a USB port. Coming to the rear, the seats are just as basic and flat as the front seats but the legroom and headroom on offer is commendable. The seat can accommodate two fully grown adults easily and can accommodate three average sized people but, it’ll be a squeeze. The seat can be split in 60:40 ratios and can also be folded flat if the need arises for extra luggage space. Bajaj decided to equip the Qute with seatbelts for all the passengers and also a fire extinguisher which is placed behind the rear passenger seat as an added safety measure, in case of unforeseen circumstances.
Engine, Transmission & Drive
Considering the size and weight of the Bajaj Qute a single cylinder 216.6cc liquid cooled Petrol/ CNG engine is used to propel the quad. The Petrol powered Qute generates around 13.2BHP @ 5500RPM and churns out a healthy 18.9Nm of torque @ 4000RPM. The Qute CNG generates slightly lower power figure of around 10.98BHP @ 5500RPM and 16.1Nm of torque @ 4000RPM. The engine is mated to 5-speed sequential gearbox which is extremely easy to use. The gearshifts are precise and slots in just right without any false shifts. The only downside of having a sequential gearbox is shifting down all the five gears to engage the reverse gear. There is a safety latch which needs to be pulled up when engaging the reverse gear so that no one accidentally engages the reverse gear, a thoughtful touch indeed. We were sampling the CNG powered Qute and during our time with the quad, we never felt the Qute was underpowered in anyway. The torque spread was even throughout the rev-band and the throttle response was instant to say the least.
Even when hovering around at 30 km/h in fourth gear the Qute easily pulled away effortlessly with a light right foot. Surprisingly so, the ride quality was way better than what we had expected. We took the Qute to a nearby dam in Pune and the roads were not so great. But, the Qute took all the bad roads in its stride like no one’s business. Obviously, the quad rattled a bit, but, there was no unpleasant noises coming from the suspension. The steering is manual (rack & pinion) and the turning radius is only 3.5m (minimum) which makes the quad extremely manoeuvrable in tight traffic jams and also makes it easier to park in tightest of places. On the highway the steering gets slightly vague at speeds above 50km/h and demands constant driver inputs. It’s nothing scary as the Qute cannot go beyond 70km/h in 5th gear. Overall, the Qute is a surprisingly good package for the purpose of replacing the auto-rickshaws as it offers a whole lot more for almost the same cost.
The Bajaj Qute is truly cute in almost every sense and a practical everyday transport solution within the confines of any city. The Quadricycle as a product is very new to the Indian market and only time will tell whether the people would accept the Qute or not. Wherever we took the Qute it always got a lot of eyeballs followed by a lot of inquisitive questions that says a lot about how attractive the product is. A person who is contemplating on buying an auto-rickshaw might consider the Qute as a better, safer and more spacious alternative. But, it also depends on Bajaj and its sales team on how serious they are to push the sales of this latest offering. Bajaj who is commonly known for its aggressively priced products could’ve priced it slightly lower than Rs. 2.63 lakhs for the Qute Petrol and Rs.2.83 lakhs for the CNG Qute (both ex-showroom, Delhi). With the closest competition (Tata Nano) going off production very soon, Bajaj couldn’t have timed it better to bring in their cutest product to the masses.