Ashok Leyland Bada Dost Xpress: The ingenious CNG mini-bus | Auto Expo 2023
Designed for both intra-city and highway driving, the Ashok Leyland Bada Dost Xpress scores high on cabin space and practicality, along with the lower running cost and emission advantages of CNG.
At the recently held Auto Expo 2023 Motor Show, Ashok Leyland’s innovative and novel mini-bus (or ‘van’, colloquially) – the Bada Dost Xpress – stole the attention of the audience. The vehicle prioritizes environment, comfort and performance for profitable operations in both city and highway applications, according to the manufacturer.
The design and styling of the Bada Dost Xpress is very appealing, except for the disproportionate rear-end looks. The long-running, high-held window line running across the sides is neatly crafted to give the bus a vivid look.
Taller stance of the vehicle helps in maintaining a decent headroom in the cabin, despite upright seating. Pronounced wheel arches and large tyres with blackened steel rims give the Xpress a macho look.
Built on the Bada Dost light truck platform, the passenger van boasts a wheel base of 2,800 mm. The Xpress comes with a wide-opening sliding door that is practical enough for easy ingress and egress. Crawling inside the saloon is easier, with anti-skidding flooring, grab-rails, and safety handles.
The Bada Dost Xpress can seat 12 passengers in the saloon. Thanks to the dash-mounted gear-shift lever, the large front bench seat can easily accommodate two more passengers, right beside the driver. The dashboard layout is simple and utilitarian, while the chunky steering wheel is great to hold, with the driver seat offering a comfortable driving position.
The mini-bus is powered by a ‘P15’ CNG engine that makes 58 hp power and 158 Nm of torque. The gas engine is mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox. Ashok Leyland assures a balanced performance and fuel-efficiency with passengers and air-conditioning on. Non-AC versions are also available, the company adds.
It appears that the Bada Dost Xpress is almost production-ready, although the manufacturer is tight-lipped on commercial launch and pricing details at the moment. The mini-bus can take on the new Tata Winger, and even be better alternatives to the imported Toyota HiAce or Volkswagen Crafter models.