Recently, the Hinduja Group flagship Ashok Leyland launched the Stile, a multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) based on a contemporary vehicle platform. The Stile is actually a rehashed Nissan Evalia. Ashok Leyland believes that the Stile can successfully be used as a hotel shuttle, taxi, ambulance, panel van, for inter-city and intra-city travel, and even as a personal vehicle for large families—essentially carrying 7-8 people in decent comfort. We find out how good this new offering is.
Looked at from the side and even the rear quarter, it is very hard to distinguish the Stile from the Evalia. The only major difference is the front headlight assembly that, I must add, is quite stylish. Similarly, the cabin too is almost a direct lift from the Evalia. What this means is that, though you get a very basic design, the Stile is actually a very practical vehicle.
What the Stile does have is loads of space. The monocoque body construction makes for lower weight, while for passengers it translates into car-like comfort, good ride quality and increased safety. The interiors, at least in the top-end model that we drove, are well-appointed with superior ergonomics. Then, the low floor feature makes for easy entry and exit, while sliding doors on both sides allow for easy access in tight parking spaces. Available only as a diesel engine option, the Stile has got a wide choice of seating options of 2 and 3 rows (7 and 8 seats) with generous space for occupants and their luggage. The MPV also comes with user-friendly features such as dual rear AC vents for effective air-conditioning.
The Stile is powered by the same engine that does duty on the Evalia. What Ashok Leyland has done is detune the motor, which now produces a lesser output of 74 bhp but that also translates into an ARAI-certified fuel-efficiency of 19.5 kmpl—very good for a vehicle this weight and class. The driveability is nice and the Stile comes with height-adjustable steering wheel. The vehicle also has low NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) levels.
The Stile, however, does leave out some important bits. For instance, there is no airbag currently being offered, so safety remains an issue. Then, even in the top-end variant, the driver cannot operate passenger power window from his door. Also, there is no manual or electrical adjustment for the outside rear-view mirrors (ORVM).
The good news is that the Stile comes with a two-year or 50,000-km warranty and is priced from R7.49 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). The not-so-good is that the much-better equipped, and currently updated, Nissan Evalia now retails at R8.78 lakh. Sold through the new Ashok Leyland LCV outlets across the country, the Stile is the commercial vehicle maker’s first serious shot at the passenger vehicle market. If only it could have had better equipment…