The Bajaj Qute recently made headlines thanks to a tweet claiming the car costs only R150 per month to own.
This is not true, by the way, but the Qute is still largely affordable if you’re looking for something with four wheels, four seats, and an engine.
In April, Bajaj is running a special where you can buy a Qute for R65,000.
This is a R10,000 discount from its usual price.
The company sells roughly 180 units of the Qute per year, mostly to customers wanting it for commercial use.
The dealer we spoke to added that financing is available, and that monthly costs are determined on a customer-to-customer basis – running between R1,500 to R2,000 on average.
In terms of features, the Qute gets a speedometer, a steering wheel, four seats, sliding windows, and a radio.
The radio system supports USB inputs, but that’s where cabin amenities end.
The speedometer does have nice colour accents, though, which is something worth mentioning.
Practicality is taken care of by a front bonnet that allows a load of 20kg, a standard roof rack that supports 40kg, and several storage cubbies within the cabin.
It can fit up to four passengers, too, and the rear bench can fold over to provide more storage space.
Below the rear bench you will find a four-stroke, one-cylinder, liquid-cooled, 216cc engine that generates 9.7kW of power and 18.9Nm of torque.
This motor is mated to a 5-speed sequential gearbox, which provides enough power to allow a top speed of 70km/h and a maximum incline gradeability of 11.3 degrees.
The entire car measures in at 2,752mm long, 1,312mm wide, and 1,652mm tall – and weighs in at a kerb weight of 400kg.
I must admit that I was excited to drive the Qute.
It appeared other potential customers felt the same way, as the local Bajaj test drive unit was already out on a trip when we arrived.
There were a few models on the showroom floor, which subsequently got our attention.
The most apparent thing about the Qute, after its size, is the build quality. It’s not what you would call luxurious.
The sheet metal panels are connected with naked pop rivets, and there is barely anything shielding you from the outside world.
Nevertheless, the test drive unit finally came back, and, after squeezing through the tiny doorway, we were off.
Around the first corner I was going nearly half the top-speed of the car, and the fear of tipping over settled in immediately.
Even a slight turn on the tiny steering wheel registers at the front wheels, since they are less than a metre away and connected via a direct driveshaft.
The short track width and the fact that the car is much taller than it is wide does not exactly inspire confidence.
Its turning radius is very short, however, and getting the Qute around a corner needs much less input than in your average passenger car.
After getting comfortable with the steering, performance was the next focus point.
The 5-speed sequential gearbox performed surprisingly well and the car reached 50km/h with ease.
Its brakes struggled somewhat to bring the car to a full stop – and acceleration is not its strong suit, either.
On a straight, open road stretching about 700m I gunned it. The speedometer touched the 65km/h mark once, but that was the quickest I could get the Qute to go.
The ride was rough, but not terribly so, and sound insulation is nearly nonexistent.
It did live up to the promise of offering space, though, as I was sitting next to the salesman at the front and neither of us were uncomfortable.
The seats are soft, there is ample headroom, and our shoulders did not touch.
In a car that costs less than most motorcycles on the market, you can’t ask for much more.
Other aspects to note are that the windows slide open horizontally instead of up-and-down, and the single-speaker radio system played music as loud or soft as I wanted.
Swerving through the pothole-infested road was easy with the sensitive steering, and it didn’t bother anyone that we could not go over 70km/h.
The Bajaj Qute is a fun, quirky, and cheap way to get around town.
This is balanced against the ride being rough and slow, and that its safety rating is rather low.
There is also debate about whether the vehicle is a “car” or a “quadricycle”.
It is enjoyable in a novel way and the looks you get from pedestrians already make the price tag worth it.
It is therefore perfect for the entrepreneur wanting to make some money by shuttling passengers over very short distances or make deliveries around an estate.
For those wanting it for personal use, you really should test drive one first before considering the Qute as a daily driver.