Up until now, the name Ashok Leyland has been synonymous with buses and trucks. So naturally, when the company launched a car, several eyebrows did indeed shoot upwards. The car in question is the Stile, Ashok Leyland’s attempt at creating a people carrier that will appeal to the masses. One does not need the eyes of a hawk to figure out that this vehicle is yet another product of badge engineering. The overall design is almost identical to the Nissan Evalia and to be honest, that might not have been the best to begin with as far as styling is concerned. The car continues to have the aura of a workhorse but if one can get over that, they will find a car that does have some strong points of its own.
The engine under the bonnet of the Ashok Leyland Stile is the same one that powers the Nissan Evalia, but it has been detuned. The 1.5 litre, 4 cylinder diesel produces 74 bhp, 10 less than what it puts out for the Evalia and as a result, the car takes over 18 seconds to get to 100 kph from a standstill. That being said, the Stile was never designed with racetracks in mind. The main intention for this car was to be a comfortable, no frills people carrier. More focus has been given to the torque delivered by this motor and we can report that it is excellent. It kicks in from a very low point and does a really good job of hauling this MPV. One does not have to downshift the car———s 5 speed manual gearbox all that much, even for speed bumps. The Stile———s surprisingly tight turning circle of 5.2 metres, its weightless clutch and its direct steering means that navigating narrow and crowded streets won———t be a nerve-wracking experience. Reportedly, the car———s ECU has been remapped as well, keeping fuel economy in mind.
As we mentioned before, in the styling department, the Evalia definitely isn———t the best template to work on. There have been changes ——— the Stile gets a larger front grille, a new bumper and a different headlamp cluster. Modifications have been made to the rear of the car as well, but the Stile still gives off a workhorse vibe. However, this car is capable of easily carrying either 7 or 8 people, depending on the seating layout, in excellent comfort. Long journeys in the Stile should be a breeze thanks to its comfortable seats and pliant ride quality. The driver gets a commanding view of the road but reversing this car is not an easy business due to its high and not very large rear windshield. The middle row gets not just slider doors, but unfortunately, slider windows as well and the fact that the windows can never be more than half open is annoying. When it comes to features, would you like airbags? Well, forget it. How about ABS and EBD? Forget that too. At least a music system, then? No, not even that! You get the feeling that someone at Ashok Leyland sat with a list of features and just crossed them out one by one. Mercifully, you do get an AC with dedicated vents for the middle row. The third row miss out on that as well; maybe the thought was that if they were unimportant enough to be relegated to the last row, they need not get air conditioning and some costs can be saved!
Although the Stile feels absolutely rudimentary, does not look handsome and is starved of features; it accomplishes the objective it set out with ——— to be a functional and comfortable people carrier. It appeals to the sort of person who wants a basic, spacious, easy to use vehicle with no extra frills. But nonetheless, we still believe that Ashok Leyland could have done a better job with the Stile.