Car production around the world can be very different from what is produced here. Take, for instance, the Bajaj Qute, an Indian sedan that is only slightly larger than a Port-a-Potty. Could this be the tiniest car made today? Well, it depends on how you define “car.”
Bajaj is known mostly for producing motorcycles and three-wheelers. At least, that’s what its website says. Apparently, Bajaj needs to update its website because we see four wheels under the Qute.
The Bajaj Cute is a quadricycle, one step up from an autorickshaw
The four-wheeled Qute is called a quadricycle by its maker. It is a rear-engine rear-wheel-drive four-seater sedan. Power comes from a one-cylinder 216 cc engine cranking out 8.08 kW. That computes to 11 hp which is in stomach pump territory.
This segment we don’t have in the US, but there are a number of players. The Maruti Suzuki Alto 800, Renault Kwid, and Maruti Suzuki S-Presso all inhabit the Qute’s quadricycle segment. Advertising goes out of its way to assure you the ride-even for long distances, is as comfortable as a regular-size ride. It emphasizes, “The performance is absolutely better than that of an auto-rickshaw.”
The Qute’s top speed is just under 44 mph on either gas or CNG
The 882 lbs Qute uses its 13.94 lb-ft to launch itself to a top speed of 43.5 mph. That’s propulsion that uses either gasoline or CNG. But there are more features than just being able to switch off between gas or CNG.
A 12V accessory plug, USB support, FM player with dual speakers, vents (for ventilation), and even a gear indicator to remind you which gear you’re in. Will wonders never cease? There are also four color options for the exterior. Blue, green, red, and yellow are available to help distinguish between your and brother Jerome’s Qute.
No air conditioning is available, but advertising says that’s OK because this is supposed to be “a better version of an autorickshaw.” And we all know those don’t have air conditioning. So we guess buyers are supposed to consider this an extension of an autorickshaw and not a small car?
Promotions for the Qute play up the most basic of features
It does come with what it calls a “digi-screen” which is a digital instrument cluster to you and me. Advertising also promotes features like grab handles (for both co-drivers!), and “fantastic” seat belts. Do you get the impression they’re trying to proclaim every crumb of a feature while also subtly letting you know this is no Rolls-Royce?
As to the engineering of the Qute it utilizes a monocoque chassis and “you get a smaller engine than that present in a motorcycle.” Is that a great talking point, or a warning? To allay your concerns it says, “the good thing is that it comes with nice torque and garners momentum without problems.” OK, then!
If nothing else we would like to drive one just to experience it. But we don’t see ourselves experiencing a Qute on the 405 freeway. On second thought, with as slow as the 405 is normally crawling at, this might be the perfect car for it.