Ashok Leyland unleashes new Stile statement

We have driven many cars in the past on roads and highways throughout Bangalore. And there have been those moments where we have received a long, interested glance or two from motorists and pedestrians around.

When we decide to take the latest, freshest offering from Ashok Leyland for a spin, it is glances and glances that we receive all the way. The commercial vehicle manufacturer recently rolled out its first passenger vehicle. The ‘Stile’ marks Ashok Leyland’s foray into the promising Indian passenger auto market.

At first look, the Stile is noticeably similar to Nissan’s big-built multi-purpose vehicle (MPV), Evalia, and is a product of the Ashok Leyland-Nissan JV. It is based on the latter’s popular NV 200 platform.

The Stile’s boxy design and massive built are quite impressive. Its 4,400 mm length and high stance command considerable road presence. But in almost all possible ways, the Stile is built with the same visual theme as the Evalia, though the company has done its best to give it its own unique personality. Elements such as the front bumper, dual-barrel headlamp and bonnet grille are unique design features of the Stile. The familiar Ashok Leyland logo sits prominently on the rear and the front grille of the vehicle.

Roomy interiors

On the interior, the Stile feels frugal compared to the Evalia. The plastics used are pretty basic, but speak of high quality. The dashboard appears very basic too, but seems robust. There is fair amount of storage space, power windows and large air-conditioner vents for the rear seat passengers. Even in this regard, there is a huge similarity between the Stile and the Evalia, especially in terms of the gear lever, dashboard, steering-wheel design and so on.

We get to drive the top-end LX variant, but sadly it doesn’t offer any major premium interior features, let alone a music system. But on the whole, the Stile is incredibly roomy and offers lots of comfortable seating space. The 7-seater LX offers good seating position, and the two captain seats in the middle row have great ergonomics. These seats are the best bet and one feels like a king while seated in one.

Another noticeable aspect is the addition of an ‘openable’ glass aperture on the second row window, which is quite small in size. Perhaps, the design is aimed at providing privacy to passengers.

The interiors are spacious enough for a large family to feel at home, even while travelling over very long distances. The vehicle boasts of large sliding doors, which are only a start to the immense space and comfort which the vehicle’s interiors begin to pamper you with once you are seated inside.

When we first hit the road, the Stile’s power comes to its fore quite soon. The vehicle is powerful, and it is evident as it takes on the long airport road coming towards Bangalore City. The drive seems quite the similar to the Evalia, except for the fact that it seems a little underpowered during certain instances. The Stile runs on the 1,461cc, 4-cylinder Renault K9K diesel engine as the one fitted into the Evalia as well. While the latter provides a peak power of 85 HP, the Stile has a lower power of 75 HP.

But overall, the Stile is powerful. We drive the vehicle on different roads and in varied road conditions. With a torque of 185 Nm, the Ashok Leyland Stile does know how to zip its way through traffic, and quicker gear shifts suddenly pushes the vehicle to take on higher speeds.

With a top speed of around 150 km, the Stile offers a mileage in the range of around 17 kmpl. Surprisingly, for a large vehicle, the Stile is very manoeuvrable and the steering wheel is smooth. One must also highlight the impressive turning radius of the Stile, as we experience reversing it efficiently in certain very tight ends of the road. The monocoque construction ensures that the Stile has its way on bad roads too.

About driving comfort, it must be noted that over long distances, it could become taxing for the driver. Like the Evalia, the Stile’s gear lever is placed as part of the dashboard, which makes it difficult for the driver to shift gears without a more familiar posture being used. Also, there is no arm support being rendered, which would have eased driving stress to a great extent.

Another not-so-impressive feature is the space that suddenly emerges between the floor of the front seat and the door, once it is closed. The footboard, which ought to be outside the vehicle, once the door is closed, becomes part of the Stile’s interior space. The front door closes along with the outer footboard coming inside the vehicle, creating a visibly large space between the interior floor and the door, which can pose a risk to passengers.
So where does the Stile fit in? Ashok Leyland has claimed that it has no plans to enter the mainstream passenger car market. With the Stile, the company is catering to a select group of customers who prefer a large, strong vehicle to a conventional motorcar.

Vehicles like the Stile are popular abroad, where they serve commercial sectors namely airports and hotels among others. But in India, they are yet to become a mass transport option, and Ashok Leyland, whose new product is priced from Rs 7,49,990 (Ex-showroom Bangalore), may have a lot on hand to market the Stile well and succeed in selling it in style.

Comments (+)