2019 Bajaj Qute Review: Much like Mr Bean’s uncanny hatred for the three-wheeled Reliant Robin, Auto Rickshaws give me a nervous tick. As someone who has been a victim of these three-wheeled abominations losing the front and falling over, their design and the fact that they are one of the nation's lifelines for last mile connectivity is a pain point for me. Up until now, options have been limited, 'Up until now' being the operative words. Cue, the Bajaj Qute, a quadricycle by definition, Bajaj starts any conversation about the vehicle with the disclaimer that the Qute is NOT a car. That sort of sets the tone for the rest of this review as the Qute is no car replacement and it's not comparable to a Nano and its not likely to impact Maruti’s Alto 800 sales. Bajaj has instead positioned it as an alternative to auto-rickshaws and as an inexpensive urban commuter vehicle for cramped Indian cities. Seeing the avenger of my cause, I headed down to Bajaj’s home city of Pune to find out exactly how good the Qute really is.
2019 Bajaj Qute Review: Design & Exterior
Is it Qute ? Well, you can’t help but agree, albeit mildly. The 2019 Bajaj Qute will in no way take your breathe away. The design too, like the vehicles outlook, is utilitarian. What Bajaj has done is design a metal monocoque chassis and add to it functional bits like the doors, bonnet and boot in plastic. The fibre-plastic bumpers are stock black without paint, and they don’t look bad either. In fact, they add a modicum of aesthetic value to the rest of the pastel coloured body. Our test car was Red but we are told that Bajaj will sell you a Qute in White, Yellow, Green, Red and Blue according to your preference.
There’s no grille up front and the bonnet is actually a cavity for storage, but the Qute does get a pair of headlamps that will be sufficient for city use. Remember the Qute is not technically legal on Indian highways removing the requirement for really powerful illumination all-together. One of the drawbacks I noticed on the exterior was the door handles which were tiny and almost impossible to use. My favourite thing about the Bajaj Qute, however, is the tiny 12 inch Pizza sided rims on that it rides on. I mean Bajaj could have gone for steel rims and saved a couple of bucks but instead chose to feed into the aspiration of their customers. Just because it's built to cost doesn’t mean it shouldn’t look cool! Overall the Qute is not badly built, it doesn’t feel cheap, it is built to keep costs down and that’s okay for the intent with which it was built.
2019 Bajaj Qute Review: Performance and Handling
The Bajaj Qute gets a slightly reworked version of the Bajaj 220 cc motors that are also used in Bajaj RE autorickshaws with the cubic capacity of about 216cc, although it's been tuned for more torque. Depending on your needs the Qute can be had with a CNG Fuel system or a Petrol Fueling system but no-dual fuel options. With CNG powering the motor, it's slightly dulled down with an output of about 11 hp and about 16 Nm of torque. With the Petrol engine option, the same motor makes 13 hp and 19 Nm of torque. The interesting bit is the transmission which is a reworked 5-Speed motorcycle transmission with a reverse, that works like a sequential gearbox for the best part. It's like a race car, but it's like the race car was built on a low-cost carrier Economy Lite package. It's not particularly smooth and needs a proper shove to get it into the right slot. This can get a little confusing if you need to shift down quickly, but with time it's not something as I see as a dealbreaker.
Either way it's leagues ahead of the scooter type shifters on Auto Rickshaw (don’t even get me started about those). Even considering the fact that it weighs only 400 kgs, the Qute is not particularly quick. It's adequate at best, all the way up to 70 kmph. At which point it hits the rev limiter and happily chugs along. Overall, in terms of performance, the Qute is adequate but Bajaj promises that the real value is in the fuel efficiency. Handling too is adequate, don’t expect to be corner carving in the Qute anytime soon, but the steering responds quickly making it ideal for zipping your way through traffic, or crowded pavements (which is possible but still illegal and inadvisable). Where the Qute really shines is on bad roads, where the independent suspension does wonder in soaking up all undulations on bad roads. Its lightweight frame comes in handy too, even on a really rocky patch, the Qute quite easily scampers across without much trouble.
2019 Bajaj Qute: Interiors and Comfort
The Spartan theme continues on the inside too, the Bajaj Qute gets seating for four but is ideal for two normal-sized adults. There's no material matting on the floor sans rubber mats, which means you are exposed to quite a bit of engine noise. However, in comparison to an Auto which the Qute has in its sights set on, its leagues ahead. But its no car. All seats are fixed to their position with the exception of the driver's seat which can be pushed back by 100 mm. It's functional, not luxurious. To that end, you get storage under the passenger and driver's seat in the petrol version) and 400 litres of storage with the rear seats folded down. To put that in perspective that almost as much as a Tata Nexon's boot with the rear seats up! As I said, functional.
2019 Bajaj Qute Review: Conclusion.
The Qute started out in life as a joint venture with Nissan to build a small convenient mobility solution for Intra-city travel. Ever since Nissan abruptly pulled out of the project Bajaj was left with a half made baby that they did not have the expertise to deal with. What they did, however, was change the game and that takes moxie. True, the Qute did create a lot of controversies as it didn't fit into any legal category to make it sellable but with Rajiv Bajaj pushing it constantly the company got success in the form of Quadricycle category being created in India. Auto rickshaws are far from safe commuter vehicles as we learned when we were given one just before going out on the Qute. The steering is disastrously vague, the ride is terrible and honestly, the handling is nothing short of scary. In comparison to that, the Qute is a revelation, its comfortable, safer and even more practical. The price might be a little too much for a product that's intent on destroying a segment but for every other reason, I pray for a revolution.