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Old 17th November 2013, 20:54   #1
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Default Ashok Leyland Stile : Official Review

The Ashok Leyland Stile has been launched in India at a price of between Rs. 7.49 - 9.29 lakhs (ex-Delhi).

What you’ll like:

• An ideal people-mover for the commercial & taxi segments
• Base variant is priced 1.3 lakhs lower than the Evalia. Smarter looking face too
• Fuel efficient 1.5L diesel motor is a proven workhorse
• Light steering, gearbox and tight turning radius. Easily driveable within the city
• Balanced road manners and predictable handling
• Middle-row captain seats are very comfortable

What you won’t:

• Sliding rear doors & tiny windows for backseat passengers
• Bare basic trim levels. Frugal engineering results in a laundry list of missing features
• No safety kit (ABS / Airbags) offered on any variant
• Clattery DCi engine is noisier in this application
• 3rd seat row doesn't entirely fold away, thereby limiting cargo flexibility
• Fleet-oriented LCV dealership network. Located mainly on the outskirts of metro cities

Last edited by GTO : 18th November 2013 at 10:29.
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Old 17th November 2013, 20:54   #2
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Default re: Ashok Leyland Stile : Official Review

The Stile is a badge-engineered, decontented version of the Nissan Evalia. This review will only focus on the changes adopted by Ashok Leyland. To read Rehaan's Evalia Review, and to compare the two MUVs, click here (Nissan Evalia : Official Review).

Last edited by GTO : 18th November 2013 at 10:29.
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Old 17th November 2013, 20:55   #3
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Nissan are pushing hard to make the NV200 platform as the world’s favourite taxi. They landed a big contract to supply New York City as the “Taxi of Tomorrow”. However, beyond the basic platform, this NYC taxi has little in common with the Stile / Evalia. The proposed London Taxi substitute has similarities, save for the extended front track to enable a tighter turning circle.

One thing to note is that, in its Indian application, the Stile / Evalia is positioned as a 7 or 8 seater vehicle. Abroad, it is marketed as a spacious 5 seater.

Ashok Leyland Stile : Official Review-ashok-leyland-stile-specifications-prices.png

Nissan India's efforts to market the Evalia have been lackluster; one needs to look hard to actually find one on the road, and there are hardly any in the Taxi trade. This is where Ashok Leyland will hopefully ensure that line No. 3 @ Oragadam is utilised. The Renault-Nissan Alliance set up various collaborations with Bajaj, Mahindra and Ashok Leyland. Of the 3, only the Ashok Leyland relationship stays intact. Renault has been quite impressed with Ashok Leyland’s frugal engineering or dare I say....jugaad! Carlos Ghosn claimed that Ashok Leyland were able to make a $100 item for $30. However, this achievement might be applicable to the Dost. The Dost was formerly an old Nissan vehicle which was re-engineered by Ashok Leyland. It has helped launch Ashok Leyland into a totally new segment, away from heavy commercial vehicles. Ashok Leyland have wisely set up a separate network for LCVs. The Renault-Nissan alliance maintains a stake in this venture.

While Nissan and Renault are struggling hard to build their brands, Ashok Leyland is an established name within the transport sector. The Dost range also helped Ashok Leyland crank up an enviable sales & service network within India. You can see where this is going, when one realizes that the Stile is aimed squarely at the commercial and rural markets. A quick glance at the service network shows that its dealers are based in the industrial suburbs or rural areas.

The Stile is made by Nissan as per Ashok Leyland’s specifications. From our observations, frugality has been achieved by de-specifying certain items. The Ashok Leyland Stile is offered in three variants. Judging from the specification sheet, the base model comes with cheap trim, and dispenses with the Evalia’s plastic interior mouldings. We tested the highest LX variant with captain seats and 15” alloy wheels. The Stile has a monocoque chassis as opposed to many of its body-on-frame competitors. This results in a weight advantage of 200 kg and brings tremendous maneuverability.

Unlike the Duster / Terrano, Micra / Pulse and Sunny / Scala exercises, the Evalia / Stile transformation goes beyond the skin. And yes, with a 1389 kilo kerb weight, it's 37 kg lighter than the Evalia (1426 kilos).

Ashok Leyland Stile : Official Review-ashok-leyland-feature-list.png

Last edited by GTO : 18th November 2013 at 10:39.
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Old 17th November 2013, 20:55   #4
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Exterior build quality is quite good & cost cutting isn't evident from the outside. It is clearly a box and doesn't attempt to hide the van origins:

In its targeted environment, the airport:

At a distance, the Stile looks rather compact. One only realizes how big it is when up close to it. The Stile is as tall as a Xylo:

The Stile has a unique front end with what seems like twin headlamps. The face looks very amiable with soft edges:

The twin headlamps are actually a single halogen + indicator light. Note the STILE engraving:

Cut-outs for fog lights - no wiring, nothing has been provided:

Side profile is similar to the Evalia with one exception = the Evalia's already thin window line is spoiled by the constricted sliding glass. Transparent area is actually the visible area for rear passengers. The optional 185/60 15" rims make it look less puny. Nissan has recently added this to the updated Evalia:

15" wheels are recommended for the looks and improved stability:

Flat truck mirrors replace the powered Evalia units. Not very aerodynamic but again, you won't reach speeds where this becomes important!

Tiny aperture of the sliding rear windows reminds one of rifle slots used in (older) armoured cars:

Rear view is similar to the Evalia, albeit devoid of the chrome and reflector treatment. I personally prefer this over the Evalia. There's a big spoiler and the plastic painted number-plate cover gets a matte finish. The twin-door of Euro / US versions looks better, but is more expensive to build. That vertical rear window will get dirty. No, there is no rear wash & wipe feature:

Rear lights are flatter and less contoured:

Denotes the frugal tune of the dCi engine:

Last edited by GTO : 18th November 2013 at 10:31.
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Old 17th November 2013, 20:55   #5
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Entering the Stile requires a step up. Get in, and the door closes with a solid thud. The interiors are spartan, yet well made. You don't get the feeling that something will fall off or break, unlike the Tata & Mahindra equivalents. The plastics remind you of a grownup Logan – tough workman like. We only encountered a squeaky captain seat. Ergonomics aren't bad, although the driving position is surprisingly similar to older Italian cars (suited for those with short legs + long arms). It's a bit of a stretch to reach the gear lever, while the handbrake is very near to the driver's seat.

The dashboard is ditto Evalia from an architecture point of view. Look into the details and you'll see big differences. Frugal engineering is obvious:

Steering is from the Nissan Micra:

Instrument panel is spartan. You only get the essentials (speedometer, fuel level, clock and twin trip meters). There is no MID. Basic warning lights are of similar colours:

Central console. No ICE onboard:

Driver's view is commanding. Thick A-pillars excepted, you can see the traffic & beyond. Rearward visibility is good. Parking sensors are a serious omission, considering the vehicle's length:

Taller mirrors provide great visibility. They are manually adjustable...only from outside!

Clutch pedal is offset to the left to accommodate the steering column. There is a dead pedal that makes driving comfortable on long journeys. The steering column is height adjustable, unlike the seat:

Driver's single window switch. No control for the passenger window from the driver side. I encountered difficulty at a security checkpost since I couldn't operate the passenger window:

No door pockets at all:

The glove box now has a lid. This makes the capacity smaller than the old Evalia's gaping hole:

Additional storage space has been liberated via deletion of the passenger airbag:

Cooled or heated bottle holders (via the air vent right above):

In between the driver and passenger seats is Ashok Leyland’s version of a rear passenger blower. Slopes backwards, and is a wasted opportunity to create a driver's armrest. No armrest exists in the front on either side of the occupants. The beige seat fabric lightened up the interior, but our 3000 kms example already showed signs of stain. The LS version is part fabric and will be a better bet:

Deep floor-mounted tray to plonk bags between the driver and passenger:

Similar to the Evalia, the blower can be controlled via a Master Switch at the front:

Rear captain seats are very comfortable, even if they are set a tad low. You can set the backrest recline angle to your preference. These captain seats have fore & aft adjustment too:

Plenty of free width:

Legroom is adequate. Foot space constrained due to the front seat's mounts:

Moving the front passenger seat forward won't improve matters, as the seat rails intrude and expose their sharp edges. Slide the seats completely back & the third row gets compromised:

The second row - although comfy - is claustrophobic. What you see as a large window outside is a very small one on the inside, as the mouldings extend beyond the window line. Unless you tilt your head, you only see the front neck restraint and a slit of a side window:

Side window has been reduced tremendously to accommodate the sliding mechanism. Sliding portion is recessed in the outer surface (exterior) and doesn't sit flush. It could be a potential source for wind noise, although we never experienced any:

Grab handle to help with ingress / egress:

It's a process to gain access to the 3rd row. One needs to pull a lever under the captain seat to move it forward, then lift a lever to tip the seat back. Unlike the Evalia, it doesn't 'lift & tilt'. Add to that, you have a 50% chance of scraping some part of your body against the sharp corners of the seat runner. Legroom of the 3rd row is more or less similar to its competitors:

Egress is a process. If you try 'legs out' first, you'll stumble and get jammed between the door and the seat. 'Upper body out first' means you need someone to hold you. Moderator Vid6639 tried this and it nearly damaged his marriage prospects!

The technique is to poke your head first, grab the handle on the right, steady yourself on the left and level your body out:

Good boot with all seats in place. Can accommodate 3 strolleys or a large suitcase standing up:

The Evalia's 3rd row can be folded and lifted clear of the luggage area. Not so here. Only the seat back folds down, creating an uneven floor. The captain seats don't fold. The potential of huge carrying capacity is compromised:

Last edited by GTO : 18th November 2013 at 10:31.
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Old 17th November 2013, 20:56   #6
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Ashok Leyland have rebadged the 1.5L DCi engine as the "diet":

It looks a little dwarfed in the engine compartment:

Renault origins shine through:

In this application, it has been re-tuned for low end torque, poor fuel quality and maximum fuel economy. Where the Evalia makes 85 BHP / 200 Nm torque, the Stile has 74 BHP & 185 Nm of torque on tap. The Stile utilises a fixed geometry turbo. This K9K turbo-charged common-rail diesel is the runner-up for the National Engine of India title. It powers the Logan, Sunny, Scala & Fluence sedans, the Micra & Pulse hatchbacks and the Duster & Terrano SUVs. The SOHC 8 valve powerplant is old-school...it's nowhere near as contemporary as the Xylo's 2.2L mHawk or the Chevy Enjoy's 1.3L DOHC 16v diesel. Nevertheless, the K9K is an acknowledged workhorse known for its durability and high fuel economy.

The Stile might have lesser power than the likes of the Innova, but a front-wheel-drive monocoque construction is the ace up its sleeve. This makes the Ashok Leyland 286 kilos lighter than the Innova, and almost 450 kgs healthier than the Xylo, as the Toyota & Mahindra UVs are RWD with a body-on-frame construction. The Stile's power-to-weight ratio of merely 53 BHP / tonne is poorer to that of the Innova. However, it's torque-to-weight ratio of 133 Nm / tonne is superior.

The engine clatters a lot on start-up. We found this clatter to be persistent at most speeds. In comparison, the other 1.5L DCi cars I have ridden in are smoother. Cabin insulation has definitely gone under the cost cutter's knife.

The low-end torque masks the 74 horses powering this van. Power delivery is extremely linear. Driving away from a standstill, the Stile makes good progress. The key is to use the momentum and work the torque. With two of us onboard and the air-conditioner running, the Stile maintained decent pace, keeping up with traffic. The Stile can potter around at 50 km/h in 5th gear without complaint. It climbed Nandi hills rather easily too. The ideal way to drive the Stile is to upshift quickly and let the torque do the rest. Of course, the lack of a tachometer means you need to use your audio senses to decide on the upshift timing.

On the open road, the Stile's performance can best be described as "adequate" by commercial people-mover standards. It's not fast at all and makes no pretensions of it either. UVs like the Mahindra Xylo & Maruti Ertiga will leave it for dead on the highway. The Stile's acceleration up to 100 kph is satisfactory. Post that, you simply hit a wall. Also, on the expressway, there is no punch when you put your foot down whilst trying to overtake. You need to work the gears and even then, plan your overtaking moves well in advance. For a passenger car, that’s a deal breaker; for a taxi, that’s a deal maker. Enough pace to go from point A to B, but not enough to become rash. The Stile's ARAI rating of 20.7 kpl (Evalia = 19.3 kpl) is substantially higher than the Innova (13.7), Xylo (12.92) & Tavera (13.7) and on par with the Ertiga (20.77 kpl).

Clutch action is just right. Not too light and enough weight to know when it bites. The gears have a notchy edge and their throw is on the longer side. Still, it's more car-like than the truck-inspired gearbox of the Innova. The short gear ratios are chosen to match a small engine with a large body. Out on the open road, I was looking for a 6th gear though.

Due to the higher center of gravity and raised 180 mm of ground clearance, there is a certain amount of body roll. Like most other people movers, this isn't a vehicle to drive aggressively. On-road behaviour is otherwise predictable. It's dynamically far superior to the likes of the Mahindra Xylo, although the Innova & Ertiga have an advantage here. The Stile was easy to drive briskly up Nandi Hills. It required very little correction and took corners acceptably well for a van. However, on imperfect roads, the rear felt skittish and we experienced quite a bit of axle tramp as well. The steering is light enough within the city and well-weighted on the highway. Being an electronic power steering, feedback is limited. Turn-in is accurate and it remains steady at speed. The Stile has a compact 5.2 meter turning radius. That's respectable for a vehicle of its size. The manageable gearshift, light steering, tight turning radius and good visibility make the UV a breeze to manoeuvre within the city.

This is a rare combination of a monocoque vehicle with leaf-springs at the rear. These are not conventional semi-elliptical leaf springs, but instead parabolic leaf springs (better ride quality). The ride is compliant - decent, but not plush - within the city. We'd never have guessed that it's riding on leaf springs. On the highway, there is none of that excessive bouncing that the Scorpio & Xylo suffer from. Ride at the front is firm yet smooth. Rear passengers will find the ride choppy; things might improve if the car is loaded with 7 occupants. Passengers on the 3rd row (sitting right above the rear axle) definitely have a harsher time, more so over larger bumps which come through sharply.

The brakes are well-weighted and have good feel. We tried a high speed braking manoeuvre from 80 kph and the vehicle stopped in a straight line. A shocking omission is the lack of ABS, not available even as an option. The ground clearance of 180 mm ensured we never scraped the Stile at all.

Last edited by GTO : 18th November 2013 at 10:33.
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Old 17th November 2013, 20:56   #7
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The Smaller yet Significant Things

Indicators work with not a sound, beep beep, tick tock...no nothing. Do forgive the Stile driver with the wrong signal. A big safety miss:

2-speed wipers only, no intermittent setting. The wipers operate with the washers, then give an additional final sweep, 5 seconds after you have used the washer:

No day / night setting for the rear view mirror:

No vanity mirrors:

Front passenger is the only one to get a roof-mounted grab handle, that too with damping action from tensile plastics:

Front cover of the headlight assembly can be individually replaced (instead of the whole unit):

Top-hinged tailgate makes a good rain shelter. Limited utility in tight spaces, but a side-hinged tailgate costs more:

Ticket holder on the dashboard:

Sliding windows aren't flush with the overall glass area:

A single interior light above the driver:

Rear blower is fairly effective:

Poor fit & finish though (of the blower):

Steering column fouls with XL-sized feet:

Nicely shaped spot on top for magazines etc.

Black door handles on all variants:

Retracting cup holders for the 3rd row (LS, LX only):

Storage nooks in the boot:

Fuel filter sits under the driver's seat:

Dead axle & steel spare wheel:

The simple key:

A big shoutout to Vid6639 for accompanying me on this test drive, and to Stratos for post-processing the photos!

Last edited by GTO : 18th November 2013 at 10:34.
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Old 18th November 2013, 10:42   #8
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Default Re: Ashok Leyland Stile : Official Review

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to Official Reviews. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 18th November 2013, 11:00   #9
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Default Re: Ashok Leyland Stile : Official Review

Perfect review, as usual.
Is this the first time for Team BHP to officially review a 100% commercial vehicle?

The cabin light switch looks silly. Even a small child can figure out how it works!

And good to see that headlight cover can be separately replaced. Most of the cabs are driven around with cracks/holes in the headlight covers, because replacing the whole unit is expensive.

Originally Posted by ajmat View Post
And yes, with a 1389 kilo kerb weight, it's 37 kg lighter than the Evalia (1426 kilos).
Could you give the trim levels for comparison? I think top-end variants are compared. I guess the weight difference is because of ABS and airbags, no?

PS: Funny to see Viddy's pain
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Old 18th November 2013, 11:18   #10
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Default Re: Ashok Leyland Stile : Official Review

With a price range above 7.5 lac ex showroom I am not sure whom Ashok Leyland is targeting with this product. For a cheaper option in rural areas TATA Magic will suffice, it is a no frills people mover used mostly as 'share-auto'.
Anything above that is Sumo, Xylo category. Both the models are not having much numbers in sales. And to add to that list Leyland is not an established player in taxi segment.

Seeing the trouble Vid6639 is getting out of 3rd row, I guess it is safe to say old people and ladies will not be happy in getting in.

OT: Review happened at Bangalore International airport ?!
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Old 18th November 2013, 11:41   #11
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Default Re: Ashok Leyland Stile : Official Review

As mentioned, looks to be targeted at the commercial people mover segment.

With two of us onboard and the air-conditioner running, the Stile maintained decent pace, keeping up with traffic.
If targeted at the people mover segment, then the engine response is best checked with a loaded vehicle. I think the 1.5 may be a tad under-powered.

AL's reach in semi-urban areas & T-2 cities gives it an advantage over Renault in this segment.

And finally, I think the Tata Winger should be included in this segment for at least a high-level comparison.
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Old 18th November 2013, 12:35   #12
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Default Re: Ashok Leyland Stile : Official Review

The Taxi operators dream come true! Good fuel economy and ability to carry 7 passengers around will become a big hit. Cheaper to own compared to Innova, and better ride quality compared to Xylo.

STILE might feel some hiccups with - Urban IT Cab operators. Stile simply lacks the SUMO's east-west facing seat design to carry people around. I believe AL will soon launch that version to cover that market as well.

AL has got a good number churner here. Mahindra should be worried.

PS : Personally I despise the last row seats. I still could not digest that cargo van feel I got, when I sat in the last row in an Evalia.
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Old 18th November 2013, 13:34   #13
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Default Re: Ashok Leyland Stile : Official Review

Last month I was in Kochi and saw and number of Ertiga LDI and VDIs as taxis (airport prepaid as well as city taxis). No reason why Stile should not find good traction in the same market segment across India.
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Old 18th November 2013, 13:47   #14
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Very nice review! I wouldn't mind if they remove the very last row and liberate some more space for huge airport bags. As everyone has said this car is more for the taxi segment and it will sell there in decent numbers. I don't think there will be many private owners for this car, though it might be a good idea to get the car and modify & ICE it to one's hearts' content. Are there any pictures of the still lower variants ?
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Old 18th November 2013, 14:16   #15
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Default Re: Ashok Leyland Stile : Official Review

Clearly it's a vehicle targeting the commercial segment. But considering a cheaper Ertiga and Enjoy available in the menu, I seriously doubt this will be any success in India. As a trial launch into a new segment this could be a serious learning curve for leyland to understand the end customers and usage.
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