Mike Stevens | Jan 4, 2012

Do not adjust your monitor, the image above has not been squashed. This is the Bajaj RE60, a new four-seater (yes, four) city car that will soon tackle the Tata Nano at the budget end of the Indian market.

The car was originally destined to be a joint development and production effort between Bajaj and the Renault-Nissan Alliance, but the deal soured last year, and Bajaj says the RE60 is the product of its own efforts.

The Nano-rivalling city car is Bajaj's first four-wheeled effort, but the company is not new to the mobility market, thanks to a well-established name as a maker of three-wheelers.

Bajaj describes the RE60 as the ideal vehicle for getting around India's crowded cities, with its ultra-narrow design (it's slimmer than the already diminutive Nano) helping to thread a path through scooters and foot traffic.

Getting around might not be much quicker than going by foot, however. Power for the RE60 is provided by a rear-mounted 200cc single-cylinder petrol engine, delivering 15kW and a top speed of 70km/h.

The car's big selling point, Bajaj says, is the engine's carbon emissions, rated at just 60g/km - figures it hopes will sway buyers wary of New Delhi's growing smog problems.

Inside, the RE60's features are predictably limited, with a simple bench seat for rear passengers and windows that flip out, 2CV-style, rather than winding down.

Occupants are blessed with seat belts, but don't expect pre-tensioners - or even an inertia reel. This is a proper trip back to vehicle safety as it was in the 60s.

While Tata is expected to eventually offer the Nano in more markets, Bajaj says a global debut for the RE60 would depend on Renault-Nissan's interest in returning to the project.

“They have not seen the finished product yet. They have only seen virtual images of it. They will see it at the [New Delhi] Auto Expo. If they are disinterested in the four-wheeler, they are free to walk away,” company founder Rajiv Bajaj said in a statement this week.

Bajaj will show off the RE60 at the New Delhi Auto Expo later this week.

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