We drove Bajaj’s all-new vehicle Qute a couple of days ago in Pune, and the following is our first drive review on India’s first quadricycle. With the Qute, Bajaj is planning to open up a new segment of vehicles called Quadricycles, in the city transport system which earlier had options like auto rickshaw, buses, cabs and two wheelers. A quadricycle is a four-wheel motor vehicle with much lesser power and a lower maximum speed than a conventional small car.
Many of you might be thinking why buy a Qute instead of a small hatchback. Well Bajaj has clearly told us that Qute is ‘not a car’ and is not competing with any cars in the segment.
So, why the Qute? According to Bajaj, cars are designed in a manner to comfortably cruise on highways and do 200+ kilometres inter city runs. Cars have a decent set of creature comforts and a proper engine to make sure that it can do just this.
But when you bring the same car to a crowded city, things change. You get stuck in traffic, you cannot go above 20-30 km/h mark and you also end up burning more fuel. Bajaj said that people are using cars for intra-city travels in the absence of appropriate solutions.
That is where the Qute comes into picture. It is designed specially to do intra-city runs (within city) where the roads are narrow and remains congested most of the time. In such a situation you need a vehicle which is easy to drive, which can easily squeeze into tight spaces, and get out of it without breaking a sweat.
How does it look?
From the outside, Qute has four wheels, a bonnet at the front and a tall boy design. It has the stance of a car. It is basically an evolved version of the auto rickshaw that we see on our roads daily. It has a boxy design with car-like headlamps and turn indicators at the front.
It has a big logo between the headlamps that carries the name of the vehicle. On the side, it has a character line below the window which starts from the front and goes up till rear of the vehicle. It adds bit of a muscle to the profile of the vehicle.
At the rear Bajaj has given a dual tone finish to it. The upper portion of the vehicle has a black finish and the lower part carries the colour of the vehicle. There is a logo of Qute at the back as well. The Qute gets black bumpers at the front and rear as standard.
The Bajaj Qute’s body is made from the combination of high strength steel and plastic. All the major parts like the A,B,C Pillars, the roof, the front and the rear are made from the high strength steel. The parts like the four doors, bonnet lid, rear window housing is made from impact resistant plastic closures.
Qute has nothing extra ordinary to boast about when it comes to the interiors. It is given an all black treatment inside. The Qute has bench seats which cannot be adjusted for fore and aft movement, but has tilt adjustability. These seats can accommodate four people easily. The cabin feels very spacious because of the big windows and the large glass area at the front and rear.
The speedometer finds its place in the centre of the dashboard. It is a combination of both analog and digital and it displays essential details like trip meter, odometer and the time. The sequential gear shift lever is placed on the dashboard. Another feature that comes standard in Qute is the MP3 player. it also has USB ports and Aux cables to connect other devices.
Bajaj has loaded the Qute with storage spaces. There are cubby holes between the front seats. There are two glove boxes on the driver and co-driver side of the dashboard. Bajaj Qute has a boot space of 33 litres which can be accessed from the rear seat. The rear seat can be folded in 60-40 manner to accommodate more luggage at the rear. As the engine of the Qute is at the rear, the space at the front remains vacant, so Bajaj has converted the space under the bonnet into a space to put your luggage.
How does it drive?
Now this is the main part. Does it drive like a car? Answer is a big ‘No’. Why? Well, its very simple. As mentioned above Bajaj Qute is a Quadricycle which has less power and a much lower maximum speed than a conventional small car.
The Qute is equipped with a rear mounted 216.6cc, single cylinder, liquid cooled, four stroke engine which produces 13 Bhp of power @5500 Rpm and 18.9 Nm of torque @ 4000 rpm. It is mated to a 5 speed manual sequential gearbox. The quadricycle is available with a both petrol and CNG options.
The petrol Qute delivers a fuel efficiency of 35 Kmpl and the CNG variant will deliver a maximum of 45 Kmpl. The one we drove yesterday was the CNG equipped variant. The top speed of the Qute is just 70 Kmph which is okay considering the fact that it is aimed to be driven in the city and not on highways.
Coming to the driving part, the driver sits very high and has a good view of the road ahead. The steering has a feel to it. The first and second gears are very short and at higher revs it feels as if the engine is stressed excessively. In traffic conditions Qute reveals its true colours. It feels very nimble to handle and can squeeze into tight spaces.
Another thing that we liked about the Qute is the amount of space it occupies. It takes very less space on roads and in parking lots when compared to a car. As we noted before, it basically an evolved version of an Auto rickshaw, So the sound of engine running can be heard all the time.
Some of the drawbacks that we found during the drive were that the clutch felt very heavy for an intra-city vehicle, and non roll-down windows. Bajaj could have managed to give a proper roll down window for better air circulation, especially when it doesn’t have an air-con even as an option. The driver seat is set very high and if the driver is a tall guy (6 ft) he might find it difficult to keep an eye on the traffic ahead.
Finally, Bajaj why no automatic? Bajaj is pitching the Qute as an intra-city vehicle – which will be driven through congested roads and busy streets for most part of its existence. It would have been better if Bajaj could have offered Qute with an automatic transmission, or an automated manual transmission (AMT). Apart from these minor things, Qute is a great vehicle to be driven in city.
Whom is it aimed at?
Bajaj will be targeting Auto rickshaw drivers who are waiting for an upgrade. Bajaj will also try to convince taxi drivers who don’t own a cab and are thinking of buying their own car for a long time. There are various reason why people would buy it.
First it is highly fuel efficient. The petrol variant returns 35 Kmpl and the CNG variant returns about 45 Kmpl. The maintenance cost of the Qute is also very low. According to Bajaj the maintenance cost of Qute is around Rs 1 per km.
Another reason why people would be attracted is that it is very easy to handle in a heavy traffic situations. It also provides protection from the weather outside as it as a hard roof and doors which is not available when you ride a bike or an auto rickshaw.
At Rs 2.63 lakh for petrol variant and Rs 2.83 lakh for the CNG variant, Qute delivers the best of various categories in one product. It has four wheels and car like looks, the maintenance cost is lower than a two wheeler and the passengers are also protected by the weather outside, Which is missing in the case of a two wheeler or an auto rickshaw. With Qute Bajaj has opened a new segment of urban mobility and with time we hope to see more Qutes on Indian roads. The Bajaj Qute is actually an idea whose time has come.
Want to see your photo feature about that exciting road trip published on Cartoq? Share your details here