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Old 27th June 2012, 19:32   #1
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Hi all,

I recently got an opportunity to drive a brand new Ashok Leyland Dost for a fairly good distance to deliver a vehicle to a client. It was the top of the line LX version, armed with a power steering and Aircon.

The Ashok Leyland Dost is a fairly new player in the LCV Segment. It is rated for 1.25 tonnes of cargo.Motive power is sponsored by a 3 Cylinder 1.5 litre Turbocharged Common Rail Diesel engine, pumping out 40.5 Kilowatts of power @ 3300 rpm, and 15.3 kg-m of torque @ 1,600 - 2,400 rpm.

The trip was done in the month of may (pretty hot) and from Jaipur towards Jaiselmer (Even hotter). Covered a distance of almost 1500 kms in 4 days in it, in pretty much extreme temperatures and terrains. the Picture below would give you an idea of what all it went through.

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First Impressions
Interiors-
My father used to own a maruti omni long back, and the Dost immidiately bought in its memories - The 'seated on the front wheels' layout was responsible.
But it impressed immediately. the things you'll like:
  • good plastic Quality (relative to other LCVs ofcourse)
  • spacious - good head and leg room even for a 6 footer
  • Airy feel to the interiors. feels quiet upmarket (again relatively)
  • Plenty of space between and behind the seats to store gear (i had an army spec backpack between the seats, plenty of tools and a foot operated airpump behind the seats, and a 10 liter camper in the footwell)
  • both seats can be reclined, driver's seat adjustable for fore and aft movement. shoulder room may be a bit tight for healthy people though.
  • The aircon! yayy! well u can literally chill inside the Dost's cabin. it doesnt have a heater (there is a temp control knob, which -wierdly- is blue all the way. doesnt matter which way you turn it- continues to chill)
  • The Cute dome light! sorry don't have pictures of it right now.
  • There is a cushion on top of the engine, which helps cut out the heat, and also acts as an arm rest.
  • Instruments are minimal- an analogue speedo, and a digital fuel guage, odo, two trip meters and a clock .
  • The headlight adjuster has only two positions 0 and 1. but turned out these two are good enough.
  • Ergonomics are surprisingly good (By LCV Standards). although don't expect the power steering to return any feedback. Frankly, you'll feel like you are driving an upmarket van.
  • Engine noise is present, but cmon what were you expecting!
  • a Place for the music system! but where am i supposed to mount the speakers! (please, i dont want 4 inchers screwed onto the doorpads) any ideas for a descent ICE system guys?
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the things which could have been better:
  • wind down windows dont go all the way down. the narrow edge hurts when you pop your head out while reversing into a narrow spot!
  • internally adjustable rearview mirrors missing: wind down windows to adjust and let all that cool air out.
  • the windscreen washer knob, when pulled, only activates the washer jets. you have to switch on the wipers manually
  • a tachometer would have been nice

The Exteriors

" We see things as we are, not as they are"
so its all about perception, but to me the Dost looks pretty Mature design wise. not macho in any way, but clean lines (at at least the cab part).

The dost runs 14" rims, shod with Maxxis Radial Tyres (185/70-R14).

the loading bay is made up of stamped metal sheets. nothing glamorous, just gets the job done.

Headlights do a good job of lightning up the path, with descent spread and throw.

The battery is side mounted - exposed- with just a bolt locking iit in place. Although there is a provision to put on a House hold 'Tallah' to keep it safe.

umm..that kind of winds up the exteriors i guess..


The Mechanicals:

Dost runs a front engine, Rear wheel drive layout.

Transmission is a 5 speed unit, with 5th gear being overdrive.

Front suspension is a double wishbone type, supported by a transverse leafspring! (Chevy Corvette anyone?)

Rear end makes do with a usual leaf spring arrangement.

Braking is handled by disks up front, and drums at the back end. It has a brake force proportioning valve, which adjusts the brake bias according to the load in the loading bay.


The Drive


The engine takes a longish crank to start (its like ahh ahh ahh ahh ahh grrrrrr) and settles into a somewhat clattery idle. blip the throttle, and nothing happens. press it for a bit longer, and it revs up lazily , like most diesels. well i'm a petrol guy, and all diesels are sluggish for me (for eg, the i20). and oh, the Dost has Fly by wire tech. (no throttle cable, a potientiometer in the accelerator takes care of the throttling part)

Gear shift is slightly sticky, with short throws (Compared of course to the LCV world). pretty much car like if you ask me. Slot it into 1st, disengage the soft clutch and it moves ahead with aplomb. This thing is pretty peppy compared to the usual LCVs the world is used to.

The dost is perfectly at home on the highways. Accelerate , and it builds momentum very well, the turbo spooling up pushing it forward with a descent ...well..push. We cruised at 90-100 kmph all day long in it. It has some kind of an electronic speed limiter though. the moment we touched the 100 mark on the speedo, the throttle backs off automatically, maintaining a steady 100. no matter how much you press the accelerator, it wont cross a 100, although the engine seems to have the grunt.

in the city, it needs to be driven with a smooth hand. i was left hunting for the proper gear many a times. 3rd was too tall, and 2nd was too short.

There is not much of a difference in performance with Ac on or off. and as mentioned before, the Ac absolutely chills.

Handling is kind of van like. Build quality seems to be good, no rattles or squeaks noticed as yet. Ride is also not all that bumpy (sat in a tata ace once, and the guy used to slow down even at minor undulations on the road). although, if driven over uneven tarmac at speed, it may get jumpy due to limited suspension travel.

Braking is good, no complaints on that.

Have had some fun with it as well. unloaded, second gear, loose surface. thats all you need to go sideways !

Just as a comparison, i have driven a tata 207 pickup as well. and the dost is a whole new league in terms of driver comfort and performance. (the 207's handling and braking was scary at best. and the diesel engine, although had loads of low end grunt, is very very sluggish at the upeer range of its powerband)

Dost consumed a litre of diesel for every 14 kms we drove. that is good i suppose, considering it was loaded mostly, and we never switched off the AC, and drove at 90-100 for 75 % of the trip.

Off the road
Now for the 1st picture of this thread, the Dost got stuck in the fine sands of jaisalmer. As there was no load, the driven wheels had almost no traction. (a tata indigo cleared the same patch easily). had a couple of ramps at the back, so jacked up the rear axle, put it beneath the wheel and tried my luck. the front end was stuck too firmly and the ramp was just catapulted ahead.
i was to try it again, but a passing by BSF Jypsy pulled us out.
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Last edited by GTO : 26th July 2012 at 09:49. Reason: As requested
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Old 27th June 2012, 22:29   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dhawcash
Hi all,

I recently got an opportunity to drive a brand new Ashok Leyland Dost for a fairly good distance to deliver a vehicle to a client. It was the top of the line LX version, armed with a power steering and Aircon.

The Ashok Leyland Dost is a fairly new player in the LCV Segment. It is rated for 1.25 tonnes of cargo.Motive power is sponsored by a 3 Cylinder 1.5 litre Turbocharged Common Rail Diesel engine, pumping out 40.5 Kilowatts of power @ 3300 rpm, and 15.3 kg-m of torque @ 1,600 - 2,400 rpm.

n!
Any safety kit in these new trucks or is it still On a Wing, a Wheel and a Prayer?
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Old 27th June 2012, 22:47   #3
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Default re: Ashok Leyland Dost - An Experience

@Dhawcash, thanks for that .. but can you give us the driving experience too ?
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Old 28th June 2012, 11:51   #4
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Default re: Ashok Leyland Dost - An Experience

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Originally Posted by shankar.balan View Post
Any safety kit in these new trucks or is it still On a Wing, a Wheel and a Prayer?
Glad you asked- almost forgot to mention in the interiors part.

While nothing ground breaking, the Dost does boast of a snout at the front to somewhat absorb the force of impact in case of a mishap.

And the Driver's seat belt, at least in my case kept pushing into my tummy. the buckle's mount is too high. should have been a tab lower to be comfortable and safer as well.
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Old 28th June 2012, 12:07   #5
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Default re: Ashok Leyland Dost - An Experience

Dear Dhowcash - what is that vehicle you are carrying? I want to know! How was the drivability?

Best regards,

Behram Dhabhar
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Old 28th June 2012, 12:12   #6
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Default re: Ashok Leyland Dost - An Experience

BD sir, to me it looks like a Polaris ATV.
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Old 28th June 2012, 13:20   #7
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Default re: Ashok Leyland Dost - An Experience

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Originally Posted by DHABHAR.BEHRAM View Post
Dear Dhowcash - what is that vehicle you are carrying? I want to know! How was the drivability?

Best regards,

Behram Dhabhar
It was a Polaris Ranger 400
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Old 28th June 2012, 17:36   #8
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Default Re: Ashok Leyland Dost - An Experience

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Originally Posted by condor View Post
@Dhawcash, thanks for that .. but can you give us the driving experience too ?
the opening post now includes that
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Old 28th June 2012, 18:22   #9
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Default Re: Ashok Leyland Dost - An Experience

IMHO, Dost has potential to be a game changer in the LCV segment. Three weeks back, i was returning from Bangalore to Chennai and had to follow a Dost (with no load) doing 95-100 kmph till i could time my overtaking. This one drove almost like a car taking curves with no sign of slowing down.
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Old 28th June 2012, 18:36   #10
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Default Re: Ashok Leyland Dost - An Experience

the Dost is definetly leagues ahead of the Ace or the Maximo. the interiors are also pretty good. I guess the load capacity of the Dost is 1.25T compraed to .75/1T of the ACE ? is that correct ?

what exactly is the price of Dost Vis a Vis the Ace and say a 407/M&M pick up which i presume will have the same payload as Dost ?

one thing is assured, like all Ashok Leyland products, the quality of parts would definetly be above par and this will contribute to lower Total cost of ownership
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Old 29th June 2012, 11:54   #11
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Default Re: Ashok Leyland Dost - An Experience

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the Dost is definetly leagues ahead of the Ace or the Maximo. the interiors are also pretty good. I guess the load capacity of the Dost is 1.25T compraed to .75/1T of the ACE ? is that correct ?

what exactly is the price of Dost Vis a Vis the Ace and say a 407/M&M pick up which i presume will have the same payload as Dost ?

one thing is assured, like all Ashok Leyland products, the quality of parts would definetly be above par and this will contribute to lower Total cost of ownership
It is unfair to compare the Dost with the Ace or the Maxximo as the Dost is in a different segment altogether (1-2 Ton payload) and comes almost a lakh dearer than the Ace / Maxximo. A more apt comparison would be the Super Ace which surprisingly carries a 2 - 3 month waiting list.

The payload of the 407 is 2.5 Tons while the M&M pick up may have a payload similar to the Dost.

Roughly the ex showroom price of the Ace/ Maxximo would be 3 lacs and the Dost is about a lakh more (All base versions).
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Old 29th June 2012, 12:05   #12
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Default Re: Ashok Leyland Dost - An Experience

The biggest disadvantage with Dost is its Suspension set up, particularly in the front. Our Indian drivers are used to overloading for which Leaf spring suspension is the best suited. The suspension set up of Dost, can be a big downside for the potential buyers.

Also the headlights which are desgined quite well, may prove to be too delicate for the small Indian roads.

Else Dost is one of the best mini trucks with tried and tested Nissan engine.
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Old 29th June 2012, 13:24   #13
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Originally Posted by amitpunjani View Post
Else Dost is one of the best mini trucks with tried and tested Nissan engine.
I hope Mr Menon in Chennai R&D doesn't see this post as ALL clearly mentions that this engine was completely designed and developed in house (Not even AVL Austria involved ).

This looks to be true as the 2.2 liter 4 pot and 1.5 liter 3 pot are fairly new to the CV space and its highly unlikely that Nissan may have had such a motor in their portfolio.
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Old 29th June 2012, 13:49   #14
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The biggest disadvantage with Dost is its Suspension set up, particularly in the front. Our Indian drivers are used to overloading for which Leaf spring suspension is the best suited. The suspension set up of Dost, can be a big downside for the potential buyers. ...
Going by the Indian Driver's mindset, you are right. on many occasions, i had tata ace drivers pursuing me, hopelessly flashing their lights and waving at me to stop. the firs thing most curious commercial drivers did was to dive under the front wheels to check out the suspension. and they had the same opinion as you.

But i think that people need to be educated in this regard.

The dost does have a leaf spring setup up front, only difference being its transversely mounted.
This means the spring can do its sole job of supporting the load, instead of coping with lateral and torsional forces induced by braking/steering (these forces are now taken by the dual A-arms.

In other words, in a normal leaf spring setup (hotchkiss) the springs themselves have the responsibility to keep the wheels in their place, and as a side effect end up being stiffer.

the dost indeed has a very descent ride quality, which reduces driving comfort by a great margin (which actually makes it safer in an indirect way)

(on some occasions, we were on the road for more than 18 hours, and the dost proved to be quiet comfortable during long stints)

Also, the double wishbone enables use of a rack and pinon steering setup, which is much better at wheel control during jounce and rebound. the 207 i drove used to shimmy at speeds as low as 40 kmph on uneven patches.

Also , a softer setup is better for the over all vehicle /frame life, as the amplitude of vibration transferred to the vehicle frame would be lower.

Just my thoughts, although only a long term report would tell how successful its suspension setup turns out to be.
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Old 29th June 2012, 14:41   #15
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Default Re: Ashok Leyland Dost - An Experience

Quote:
Originally Posted by narayan View Post
. I guess the load capacity of the Dost is 1.25T compraed to .75/1T of the ACE ? is that correct ?
Quote:
Originally Posted by SAE40 in veins View Post
It is unfair to compare the Dost with the Ace or the Maxximo as the Dost is in a different segment altogether (1-2 Ton payload) and comes almost a lakh dearer than the Ace / Maxximo. A more apt comparison would be the Super Ace which surprisingly carries a 2 - 3 month waiting list.

The payload of the 407 is 2.5 Tons while the M&M pick up may have a payload similar to the Dost. .
Payload of Ace/Maxximo will be 0.75T, Super Ace is 1T. Genio is the only pick up to match 1.25T payload.
Other cousins of Genio have slightly less GVW than Dost/Genio.

Quote:
Originally Posted by amitpunjani View Post
The biggest disadvantage with Dost is its Suspension set up, particularly in the front. Our Indian drivers are used to overloading for which Leaf spring suspension is the best suited. The suspension set up of Dost, can be a big downside for the potential buyers.

...Else Dost is one of the best mini trucks with tried and tested Nissan engine.
The downside what you are speaking is in theory. But in practice without adding leaf's if over loading is possible a customer will not be bothered. That's what Dost is doing I believe.
Dost engine is developed by AL and not from Nissan.
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