Ashok Leyland Stile spotted testing in Chennai

The joint-venture between Nissan and Ashok Leyland couldn't have had a better beginning in India. Dost, the first model to roll out of the joint-venture, is a critical and commercial success and the plant in Chennai is not able to produce enough of them. With its first entry in the Light Commercial Vehicle (LCV) segment deemed a hit, Ashok Leyland is getting ready for its next.

This test mule spotted testing in the busy Anna Salai in Chennai is proof of that. Unveiled to the public at the 2012 Auto Expo in New Delhi, the Stile is the next model that will carry the Ashok Leyland tag. Sharp eyes would have found out by now that this test car has a big resemblance to the Nissan Evalia. That's because the Stile is nothing but a re-badged and stripped-down Evalia. While the latter is pitted against the high-end variants of Mahindra Xylo and Toyota Innova targeting the family audience, the Stile will take the fight to the lower variants of the same cars targeting the commercial audience. Strategically, it does make a lot of sense.

The test car had its front end partially camouflaged, indicating that the Stile could look a little different from the Evalia. The tweaks would be limited to the grille, bumper and headlight detailing as touching the body panels would mean a lot of investment. The exposed rear reveals that the Stile has lost the taillight inserts that are present in the Evalia. Our guess is that the Stile would look similar to the model that was displayed at the Auto Expo. Expected to undercut the Evalia in terms of pricing, the Stile will loose many such features to keep the costs firmly in check. Though stripping down the already-bland Evalia inside and out isn't going to help the Stile in terms of looks, appeal and richness, Ashok Leyland knows that it's target customers wouldn't be too concerned about those factors.

What they will be concerned about though, is reliability and fuel-efficiency. With a solid base in the form of Nissan Evalia, Ashok Leyland has got the fundamentals of the Stile spot on. Remember, the Nissan NV 200 (That's how the Evalia is called, internationally) is making waves around the world as official taxis in cities like New York, London and Barcelona, which is a testimony to its reliability. It is being widely speculated that the Ashok Leyland Stile will be powered by the 1.5-liter, 3-cylinder, turbocharged, common-rail diesel engine from the Dost and not the popular 1.5-liter K9K diesel engine that powers the Nissan Evalia and a host of other models in the Renault-Nissan lineup. This move, it is said, is not only to improve the fuel efficiency, but also to keep costs down.

Ashok Leyland is expected to launch the Stile later this year to kick-start its innings in the commercial people-mover segment. With the Nissan Evalia turning out to be a huge disappointment in terms of sales, will the Stile hit the sweet spot in the market? Can Ashok Leyland do what Nissan couldn't? Through the joint-venture, will Nissan gain with the Stile what it lost with the Evalia in India? That's a whole lot of questions for the Stile to answer.

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