Fiat Linea - Introduction
It’s been five years since Italian carmaker Fiat launched the Linea sedan in India. But fierce competition from established players like Honda and Hyundai followed by the entry of Nissan, Renault, Volkswagen and Skoda in this segment and a failed marriage with Tata Motors coupled with a poor marketing strategy saw a perfectly competitive car like the Linea fade into oblivion.
But since 2013, Fiat seems to have woken up from their long siesta and started taking corrective measures to resurrect their brand in India. Starting with establishing exclusive showrooms (116 exclusive dealerships and 107 workshops) and expanding their national footprint to introducing more products in their Indian portfolio (the company has three more product launches this year which includes Avventura, Abarth 500, and New Punto Evo) and giving the Linea a mid-cycle facelift, the efforts finally seem to be in the right direction.
The 2014 Fiat Linea was first unveiled in India at this year’s Delhi Auto Expo. An array of design changes on the exterior and an all-new dashboard on the inside seems to form the crux of this face-lift exercise with the powertrain and most others aspects being carried forward from the outgoing model.
The refreshed Fiat Linea will be available in both petrol and diesel engine options and 7 trim levels – 4 in petrol and 3 in diesel. Prices start at Rs 7.36 lakh (ex-showroom Kolkata) for the base petrol trim and Rs 8.50 lakh for the base diesel variant. We got behind the wheel of the Fiat Linea 1.3-litre Multijet Emotion trim. Read on to find out what we discovered.
Fiat Linea - Design & Engineering
The 2014 Fiat Linea isn’t really a brand new car; rather a mid-cycle facelift which attempts to introduce fresh style and design elements to the model in an effort to make it more appealing to the car buyers. Take a look at the refreshed Fiat Linea either in photographs or in flesh, and the first thing you are bound to notice is the generous use of chrome both in the front and at the rear of the car. Take for example the new retro style two-slat grille, the new and larger air dam, the thick strip on the rear bumper, and the boot lid with ‘Linea’ embossed on it – all have chrome on it. There is also a chrome strip which runs along the side of the updated Fiat Linea stretching from the front wheel arch to the rear one.
Also new on the 2014 Fiat Linea is the incorporation of turn indicators in the ORVMs and the black faux section in the rear bumper. The Fiat Linea 1.3-litre Multijet Emotion trim that we tested also came with new 16-inch alloy wheels which no doubt add to the overall appeal of the car. . And although looks are subjective, however, I felt that the front grille on the outgoing Linea looked better than the current one. But having said that, the designers at Fiat have done a decent job with the facelift and have been able to retain the overall clean profile of the Fiat Linea. The Fiat Linea continues to boasts of good overall built quality and feels as tough as a tank. In comparison, the newly launched Honda City and even the tough-built Skoda Rapid fades in terms of built quality.
Power is delivered through a front-wheel-drive layout. The Fiat Linea has helical coil springs, dampers and stabilizer bar independent suspension at the front wheel and torsion beam at the rear. The suspension set up is well tuned making the new Linea a joy to drive. Ventilated discs on the front with drums at the rear ensure prompt braking. NVH levels are well contained with very little clatter of the 1.3-litre Multijet diesel powertrain and external noise being filtered into the passenger cabin.
The 2014 Fiat Linea is available in six colour options – Magnesio Grey (new), Tuscan Wine, Minimal Grey, New Pearl White, Sunbeam Gold (new) and Hip Hop Black.
Fiat Linea - Interiors & Comfort
The most significant changes, however, are inside the passenger cabin. For starters, the 2014 Fiat Linea gets an all-new dashboard which clearly ups the style quotient. Designed in black and cream with piano black finish (similar to the new Honda City) around the music system and AC vents, the cabin looks refreshing and premium. However, the piano black surface scratches very easily and may not look as pleasing and shiny after a few months if not maintained very diligently. The controls on the central console are easy to operate and the instrument cluster looks chick in the black with orange light.
The passenger cabin is spacious owing to its 2603 mm wheelbase. Front seat are comfortable, well-padded and provide good all round support. Front visibility is clear. Driver’s seat is height adjustable in the Dynamic and Emotion trims. Rear bench is wide with decent under-thigh support and can accommodate three individuals. The 500 litre boot space (10 litre less than Honda City but 50 litre more than the Skoda Rapid) can accommodate adequate luggage for your weekend getaways.
The factory fitted integrated music system with CD, MP3 and FM is just about satisfactory. The quality, fit, finish and feel of the plastic used is premium. Remote keyless entry, remote tailgate open, all four power windows, rear AC vents, rain sensing wipers and tilt steering comes as standard across model range. The Dynamic and Emotion trims additionally get steering mounted controls, USB and auxiliary input, automatic climate control, reverse parking sensor and 6-speakers (base Active trim only get 4).
Fiat Linea - Performance & Handling
No changes under the hood as the face-lifted Fiat Linea continues to be powered by the very familiar 1.3-litre Multijet diesel motor. This is the same 1.3-litre diesel powertrain which does duty in numerous cars in India, ranging from Chevrolet and Tata Motors to Maruti Suzuki and has a proven track record. The 1248cc Multijet diesel engine was jointly developed by GM and Fiat and is tuned differently depending on the vehicle it powers.
The engine is mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox and produces 93PS of maximum power at 4,000 rpm and churns out 209 Nm of peak torque at 2,000 rpm. The steering felt very light at slow speed and weighed up as we reached higher speed limits. The engine is very responsive. Acceleration was very impressive with linear power delivery and excellent torque available throughout rev range with good in-gear experience. In comparison, the Honda City isn’t as much fun. There is a noticeable turbo lag as the car begins to roll till about the 1,500 rom mark after which power is available at your disposal in a linear fashion. However, while overtaking and on open stretches you will find that the new Honda City lacks the punch much to the disappointment of an enthusiast. No such complains with the Fiat Linea. The Skoda Rapid boasts of a more responsive and punchier engine than both the City and Linea and is definitely more fun to drive.
What also makes the new Fiat Linea a pleasure to drive is the suspension setup. The suspension is on the stiffer side and offer commendable ride comfort and handling at high speeds and at the same time it can take bad roads very easily. At low speeds, the stiffness is felt when going over bumps and uneven surfaces when slight jitters are sent through to the cabin but nothing unnerving. Cornering even at mid-range speed limit prove effortless with body-roll being well contained. The gearbox has a long throw but the shift action is relatively light and smooth too.
Fiat Linea - Fuel Efficiency
Identical to the outgoing model the new Fiat Linea 1.3-litre Multijet diesel boasts of an ARAI-ratified fuel efficiency of 20.4 kmpl. Although we didn’t get an opportunity to do a proper mileage test, however, 20.4 kmpl which the company claims will be near impossible to attain in real world conditions, especially given the traffic conditions in the cities. However, the 1.3-litre Multijet has earned itself a reputation of being frugal and expecting about 14 kmpl within the city and around 18 kmpl while cruising on the highway wouldn’t be completely unreasonable.
Fiat Linea - Safety
On the safety front, the 2014 Fiat Linea comes equipped with the exact same safety features as the outgoing model. Which means that features like front and rear fog lamps, automatic door lock, immobilizer, fire prevention system and central door locking comes as standard across model range. The Fiat Linea Multijet Dynamic and Emotion trims additionally gets dual front airbags and ABS with EBD, both of which are considered as important safety features.
Fiat Linea - Verdict
When Fiat first launched the Linea in India back in 2009, it surprised everyone bagging the car of the year award. But it slowly faded into oblivion due to a failed marriage with Tata Motors and a horrible marketing strategy. In my opinion, the Fiat Linea was always a wonderful car which boasts of brilliant drivability and handling, with plush and spacious interiors, big boot, decent mileage and overall elegant and stately appearance. The 2014 Fiat Linea has only got better with exterior chrome touches and an all-new dashboard.
Undoubtedly, competition is fierce in this segment with established products like the Honda City and Hyundai Verna raking in the numbers for their respective manufacturers. Along with the Skoda Rapid, Volkswagen Vento, Nissan Sunny and Renault Scala, the Fiat Linea has to jostle for space. However, with prices starting from Rs 7.36 lakh (ex-showroom, Kolkata) for the base petrol and Rs 8.50 lakh for the base diesel, the Fiat Linea is competitively priced car. When compared with the segment leaders, namely the Verna and the City, it is around Rs 10,000 cheaper than both, variant to variant. Fiat clearly has a good overall product in their hands. Now all they need to do is aggressively market it to realize its true potential and make it a big revenue earner for Fiat.
Fiat Linea - Competition Check
|Length x Width x Height (mm)||4596 X 1730 X 1487|
|Ground clearance (mm)||185 (1.4L Fire Petrol), 185/190 (1.4l T-Jet Petrol), (1.3L Advanced Multijet Diesel), 185/190 (1.4l T-Jet Petrol), (1.3L Advanced Multijet Diesel)|
|Turning circle dia (m)||10.8|
|Fuel tank capacity (lt)||45|
|Boot space (lt)||500|
|Engine & Transmission|
|Valvetrain||16 valves DOHC|
|Capacity (cc)||1368 (1.4L Fire Petrol), (1.4l T-Jet Petrol), 1248 (1.3L Advanced Multijet Diesel)|
|Power (PS @ rpm)||90 @ 6000 (1.4L Fire Petrol), 114 @ 5000 (1.4l T-Jet Petrol), 93 @ 4000 (1.3L Advanced Multijet Diesel), 76 @ 4000 (1.3L Multijet Classic / Classic Plus)|
|Torque (Nm @ rpm)||115 @ 4500 (1.4L Fire Petrol), 207 @ 2200 (1.4l T-Jet Petrol), 209 @ 2000 (1.3L Advanced Multijet Diesel), 197 @ 1750 (1.3L Multijet Classic Diesel)|
|Gearbox||5 Speed Manual|
|Suspension & Brakes|
|Front suspension||Independent wheel, Helical Coil Springs, Double Acting Telescopic Dampers and Stabilizer Bar|
|Rear suspension||Torsion Beam, Helical Coil Springs, Double Acting Telescopic Dampers and Stabilizer Bar|
|Rear brakes||Drum (1.4L Fire Petrol), Solid Disc (1.4l T-Jet Petrol), Drum (1.3L Advanced Multijet Diesel)|
|Wheels & Tyres|
|Tyre size and type||195 / 60 R15 (1.4L Fire Petrol), 195 / 60 R15 & 205/55 R16 (1.4l T-Jet Petrol), (1.3L Advanced Multijet Diesel)|
|Wheel size and type||15" Steel/15" Alloy (1.4L Fire Petrol), 15" Steel/15" Alloy/16" Alloy (1.4l T-Jet Petrol), (1.3L Advanced Multijet Diesel)|
|ARAI (kpl)||14.9 (1.4L Fire Petrol), 15.7 (1.4l T-Jet Petrol), 20.4 (1.3L Advanced Multijet Diesel)|
|Warranty||3 years or 100000 km (whichever is earlier)|
Italian auto manufacturer Fiat has launched the Linea Classic in September 2013. The Linea Classic is a more economically priced version of the regular Linea sedan.
The 2014 Fiat Linea was first unveiled in India at this year Delhi Auto Expo. An array of design changes on the exterior and an all-new dashboard on the inside seems to form the crux of this face-lift exercise with the powertrain and most others aspects being carried forward from the outgoing model.
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