We put Ashok Leyland's all new LCV platform to rigorous testing in the most real-world scenarios to find out if it does justice to its 'all-new' tag
Words And Photography: Neeraj Padmakumar
Ashok Leyland Dost needs no introduction in the Indian CV arena. The LCV launched back in 2011, has over the years amassed much respect for its flawless performance and 'Value for Money' nature. The Dost currently has a strong customer base here. Ashok Leyland has now added a new model to their LCV range. Dubbed the Bada Dost, the new product sits on top of the Dost lineup and has quite a few things 'BADA' about it.
What Is It?
Think of the Bada Dost as an all-new offering in the strict sense. Almost everything about this LCV is different from the regular Dost portfolio. It comes built on an all-new platform and offers higher payload capacity than the existing Dost trucks, thus giving businesses notable boosts in revenue. It is a global product in the true sense and comes in two distinct iterations with varying payload capacities- i3 and i4. The Bada Dost i3 can haul 1.5 tonnes while the i4 can do a good 2.0 tonnes and have on offer a number of creature comforts for those inside the cabin. There are also two trim levels- LS and LX, should you choose to opt yourself out of the creature comforts and other fancy stuff by any chance. We get to sample the i4 LX for now.'
The Bada Dost comes built on an all new LCV platform. Ashok Leyland has developed the new platform, which goes by the name 'Phoenix', all the way from scratch. This modular architecture clinches to the global standards and thus supports both Left Hand Drive and Right Hand Drive. For now, Ashok Leyland offers the Bada Dost with a diesel engine alone. However, there are also CNG and electric versions in plans as well. The Phoenix platform also stands out for its robustness across terrains. There is a decent bump in the overall height and ground clearance of the Bada Dost which now stands on 15 inch wheels unlike the regular Dost's 14 inchers.
On the design front, the Bada Dost is definitely a leap ahead. Much in accordance with Ashok Leyland's plans of taking it to the global markets, the Bada Dost does have the look and feel of a premium mini truck. Almost everything at the front fascia and the little things like the vertical set door handles further add to this feel. You could definitely draw similarities with the Dost LCV in many parts of the vehicle, but the Bada Dost shows its size for sure.
The Bada Dost i4 has an overall length of 5025mm, out of which the loading bay alone eats a good 2951mm. At 2590mm, the wheelbase seems quite decent for a vehicle of this class. The loading bay has aggressive proportions with the length, breadth and height tipping the scales at 2951, 1750 and 490mm (read 9ft 8in * 5 ft 9 in * 1ft 7 in) The larger tyres (7.00 R15 LT-12 PR at the front and 215/75 R15 LT at the rear) convert to a decently high-set loading platform for the LCV. The tyres would prove to be of equal use in almost all terrains and weather conditions.
Ashok Leyland has taken time in designing the cabin of the Bada Dost. I do not mean to say it has too many flashy elements or a sea of hi-fi gizmos, but a well laid out cabin that has just the right amount of creature comforts and highly optimum utilization of space. Unlike many other modern-day mini trucks, the Bada Dost has been designed to provide fatigue-free ride for three! With a 1+2 configuration for the seat, the driver and 2 passengers get ample attention inside this cabin to finish the trip with minimum loss of energy. This would also prove to be of use, should the driver decide to use the vehicle for some personal trips as well.
The seats have been designed to offer decent cushioning and to be a comfortable place for the driver to get a nap, by giving the parking brake a 'collapse' function. The Bada Dost also comes with cabin air conditioning as an option. The instrument cluster is all digital, with the digital lettering and display having an air of cheapness to it. I found this less readable many a time and would have personally liked a classic analogue cluster better.';
The Bada Dost gets the same diesel engine from the Dost line. The 1.5l, 3 cylinder mill puts out a 80hp and a good 190 Nm of torque. However, some key optimizations have been done on this engine as it premieres on the Bada Dost, for sticking to the BS6 emission norms even while delivering a better torque delivery than the smaller sibling. Start driving one and you will know what I am talking about. There is decent torque flow in the low end and a punchy mid-range too. The stop-and-go city runs are no difficult for the LCV. There is power steering on offer, to further add to the ease of driving. Also a Turning Circle Diameter (TCD) of 11m makes the Bada Dost the perfect fit for urban deliveries.
This engine from Ashok Leyland is quite known for its fuel efficiency. Most of the Dost owners claim it to give surprisingly high economy figures.The same continues in the Bada Dost as well, judging by the improvements made on the engine front. Plus, there is a large 50L fuel tank to add to the joy. The transmission on offer is a 5 speed unit with a dash-mounted shifter.
The Dost is quite known for its stability and dynamics even with the load on. These aspects have but been improved in the all-new vehicle. The platform feels quite stable and mannered in most road scenarios. You can push the vehicle all the way to 80 kmph with much reassurance.
Bada Dost gets a 240mm single diaphragm push-type clutch, which essentially calls for lesser maintenance and running costs as such. Braking duties are handled by ventilated discs at the front and drum units at the rear. These are quite good in most road scenarios. As for the suspension, the Bada Dost gets 2 stage leaf setups for both axles. While the front gets a 3 leaf-overslung parabolic unit, the rear has a 3+3 leaf semi-elliptic unit for unmatched load carrying capabilities. Leaves at both ends essentially mean bumpy rides in no-load runs, but do you really care? When it comes to hauling, despite its 1.8 tonnes of certified capacity, the Bada Dost can be pushed somewhere near 3T! Just saying…
- i3 LS 7.75 lakh
- i3 LX 7.95 lakh
- i4 LS 7.79 lakh
- i4 LX 7.99 lakh
Should You Buy?
If you are looking for a light commercial vehicle that can haul north of 1.8T, from a time-proven brand, with promises of commendable performance, better profit for the business, low running and maintenance costs, better fuel efficiency and hassle-free ownership, go for this!