Ashok Leyland launches Stile, a rebadged Nissan Evalia

Thanks to the Renault-Nissan Alliance, Indians are now familiar with the concept of 'badge-engineering', a diplomatic definition of denoting new models that are nothing but re-badged variants of an existing model. Ashok Leyland, Nissan's Indian partner for Light Commercial Vehicles, joined the party with the launch of its Stile Multi-Purpose Vehicle earlier this week. Following its debut at the 2012 Auto Expo in New Delhi and the formal unveiling in the presence of Mr. Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Renault-Nissan Alliance, the Ashok Leyland Stile was officially launched this Monday at an event held in New Delhi. M.S.Dhoni, India's cricketing sensation and Ashok Leyland's brand ambassador was present for the launch.

Don't be deceived by it's name. The Stile is nothing but a re-badged and a subtly redesigned Nissan Evalia. While the Evalia, amidst expectations that it would put an end to Toyota Innova's dominance, failed spectacularly in our market, Ashok Leyland (and Nissan too) would be hoping that the Stile hits the sweet spot. The most prominent change in the Stile is its grille and the headlights, that are quite different from the Evalia. While the profile remains unchanged, the Stile gets sliding rear windows that was absent in the Evalia. At the back, the reflector strips aimed at reducing the visual bulk of the Evalia are done away with. The Stile isn't unattractive, but not what we would call attractive either.

Ashok Leyland has made it clear that the Stile is targeted at the commercial segment that includes applications such as taxis, hotel shuttles, ambulances, parcel vans and courier services. Available in 7 and 8-seater configurations with the popular 1.5-liter K9K diesel engine under the hood, the Stile has just what it takes to succeed. Air-conditioning, power steering, seat belts for all three rows and tilt-steering are standard across the range while the top-spec variant can be bought with features such as rear air-conditioning vents, captain seats in the second row, central locking, front power windows and a silver-finish center console. Safety features have been given a miss, with ABS, EBD and Airbags not available on any variant.

With prices starting at INR 7.49 Lakhs for the base LE variant and going up to INR 9.29 Lakhs for the top-end LX variant with optional alloy wheels, the Stile is significantly cheaper than the Evalia. Will this make the difference between the two cars and help the Stile succeed? Looking at the success of Dost, the first product of the Ashok Leyland-Nissan LCV joint-venture and the way in which the Stile is positioned purely targeting the commercial segment, we don't see a reason for it to fail.

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