Ashok Leyland Dost : First Drive
Ashok Leyland’s Dost is a true friend; befitting the name it has and projects the behaviour it is expected to. The idea of driving a pick-up truck can be quite frightening because it can be at the other end of the spectrum when compared to the feel that a mid size sedan can give you.
Incidentally this pick-up truck is an exception to the rule. This Dost is designed to whisk away the ghost called 'fatigue' which is very common with the drivers whose profession involves driving commercial vehicles. The way in which this is achieved by Ashok Leyland is an ideal example set for the rest of the competition in the commercial vehicle production.
The moment you set your foot in the spacious driver’s cabin of this small truck you are greeted by a very friendly cabin akin to a complete band of service bearers in a good hospitality joint. The adjustable (sliding rail, backrest) driver seats are well contoured and covered in good fabric. Packed into a wider 1.4m cabin is a driver friendly dual tone dashboard that impresses no less than the base variant equipment levels of your family car with air-conditioning vents peeping straight at you.
There is also the toll slip holder to hold the small paper handed out by the toll collectors which are rampant on Indian highways, and of course the coin holder which is of no use today because people in India don’t return the change to you. Of course there is an occasional Cadbury Éclair which one prefers to consume.
Equipped with a state-of-the-art 55hp, 3-cylinder, 1.5-litre TDCR engine, the Dost is tuned for fuel economy as well as the driveability and gradeability required for Indian roads. The Dost’s practicality is further increased by its tight turning circle radius of just 4.8m, designed to easily negotiate both congested city roads and narrow rural lanes.
Once you are well settled in the cabin the mini truck can whisk you up on the road, and the compact LCV’s 1500cc TDCI engine keeps you going steadily through all ups and downs; courtesy the full synchromesh five speed gearbox. With the loading capacity of 1.25 tonnes braking is not only of paramount importance but needs to be predictable as well. This is achieved by the brakes with LSPV (load sensing proportioning valve) with a typical front disc and rear drum combination.