Ashok Leyland. It might not be a name that rings any bells when it comes to personal transportation, but in the commercial vehicle space, the name is well-known, well-entrenched and well-appreciated. Do you remember the BEST doubledecker buses that used to ply in Mumbai? Or, those numerous multi-axle trucks you might have passed on your recent trip to the south of India? Or maybe you remember those handsome looking short wheelbase 4x4 Army Stallions patrolling the mountains in Ladakh? These are all Ashok Leylands.
The Stile is the Nissan Evalia, albeit with new headlamps, a new grille and of course new badging
But now, Ashok Leyland, or ALL, is entering the personal transportation space with the help of its joint-venture partner Nissan. The two have one commercial vehicle on sale already, the Dost, but the Stile is going to be ALL's biggest challenge yet.
The Stile, as is clear from the pictures, is the Evalia, albeit with new headlamps, a new grille and of course new badging. What's not clear is the fact that the Stile is actually an Evalia built to a price. It will cost significantly less than the Nissan, and, in terms of pricing, it will take on the Chevrolet Enjoy and the Maruti-Suzuki Ertiga instead.
The quality of plastic surprisingly isn't bad, be it for the dashboard, the door trims or for the buttons and the air con vents
The cost cutting is obvious once you step inside the cabin. We are driving what will be the most expensive version of the three trims set to go on sale, the LX. But, even so, there's no stereo, no tachometer, no trip computer and no keyless entry. In fact, the ORVMs aren't internally adjustable either. The Stile also doesn't get door pockets, and the central storage between the front seats is just a tray placed on the floor.
On the inside, there's no stereo, no tachometer, no trip computer and no keyless entry
The quality of plastic surprisingly isn't bad, be it for the dashboard, the door trims or for the buttons and the air con vents. Moreover, the Stile retains the Evalia's inherent plus points. It has high seating which makes for easy ingress and good visibility. It feels tremendously airy, and there's little to fault with the overall ergonomics.
The last row doesn't get adjustable head rests, which is a bad omission.
ALL has also made two crucial changes on the Stile, which the Evalia users have been asking for. The second row gets sliding windows and captain seats; the latter also slide back and forth. Both these changes are standard on all three variants making the Stile a seven-seater no matter what trim you buy. The company will present an eight-seater version with a bench seat for the second row, but at a later stage.
The seats are supportive but not the most comfortable or well-padded
As for the seats, these are supportive but not the most comfortable or well-padded. Space, however, remains exceedingly good and the knee and headroom even for the third row is quite good. The last row doesn't get adjustable head rests, though, which is a bad omission. Also, the access to the last row can be a bit tricky thanks to the high mounted rails for the second row captain seats.
The Stile gets the same 1.5-litre, four-cylinder diesel mated to a 5-speed manual as the Nissan, but the engine is tuned to favour better fuel economy
Like the Evalia, the Stile only comes with one engine-gearbox combo. It gets the same 1.5-litre, four-cylinder diesel mated to a 5-speed manual as the Nissan. But on the ALL, the engine is tuned differently. It makes less power in favour of better fuel economy (ALL is gunning for an ARAI figure of 19.5kmpl against the Evalia's 19.3kmpl). And because there's less sound deadening on the Stile, the in-cabin noise levels are higher. The engine itself is torquey and it works well in the city. One can shift to fifth by the time the van hits 50kmph and gear shift quality isn't half bad.
The ride with its 14inch wheels isn't as well sorted as the Ertiga or the Enjoy either
To make things easier for the driver, the clutch operation is light, as is the steering. The brake bite, feel and progression are car-like too. Having said that, the ride and handling of the Stile, though, isn't as impressive. It uses Macpherson struts upfront and leaf springs at the rear; the same setup as the Evalia.
The ALL has a tight turning circle which makes it easy to manoeuvre within the city, but as the speeds rise and the roads begin to turn, the Stile isn't something you will enjoy driving fast. The ride with its 14inch wheels isn't as well sorted as the Ertiga or the Enjoy either.
The ALL has a tight turning circle which makes it easy to manoeuvre within the city
The Stile doesn't claim to be anything special but a people's carrier and it has the basics in place for it - power steering and air con is standard on all versions, it's an easy vehicle to get in and out of, there's loads of passenger space all round, and though it could do with better seats and a more comfortable ride, it's not awful on either count.
ALL is also positioning the Stile against the Mahindra Bolero and cheaper versions of the Xylo. It is mainly targeting fleet operators, but says it would be happy to get private buyers too. So, should you buy one as a private buyer? As a product, there's nothing wrong with the Stile. The problem, though, would be on the after sales end. ALL has a decent spread of dealerships across India, but these are mostly on the outskirts of the city.
Take Mumbai for instance. All ALL service centres are outside the city, which means a drive of about 50km to get to the service station, and that's like a day wasted to get the car serviced. To us then, the Stile makes perfect sense for those in the cab business. It also makes sense for those who live on the outskirts or in smaller cities and are looking to upgrade to something efficient and spacious to haul their family around. But, for a city dweller we aren't so sure.
Here is the complete gallery of the Ashok Leyland Stile.
|Drivetrain type||Inline, 4-cyl, diesel|
|Power to weight||52PS/tonne|
|Suspension (front/rear)||MacPherson struts/leaf springs|
|Brakes (Front/rear)||Ventilated discs/drums|
|Wheel and tyres||5.5Jx14"/ 165 R14|
|Fuel tank||55 litres|
|Fuel efficiency: City/highway/overall in kmpl||14.4/22.6/16.4|
|Expected price||Rs 7-9 lakh|