Fiat Linea Hatchback First Drive Review


Fiat Linea Overview

Driver-centric updates are more the exception than the rule when it comes to India. The fact is, enthusiast cars don’t offer enough sales incentives to draw a manufacturer’s focus. However, one brand that has gone against the tide is Fiat. With launches like the Abarth Punto and Abarth 595 Competizione, the Italians have showcased their focus on the front seat time and again.

With the latest update coming in the form of the Linea 125 S though, they’ve tried to balance both worlds. While the T-Jet engine now gets angrier, the cabin has been modernized with the addition of a touchscreen infotainment system as well. Effectively, they’ve made this enthusiast’s sedan more powerful, yet, more approachable.With it, Fiat India will be hoping to give its weak sales a little protein. So we got our hands on the 125 S to see how different the updates make the Linea and answer one very important question – Is it enough?

Fiat Linea Design

Fiat Linea exudes an international appeal in the style statement it carries which makes it a head turner wherever it goes. The front as well as rear overhangs seem quite proportionate which is one of the biggest advantage in its aerodynamic structure. The front looks quite sophisticated with a chrome plated front that proudly carries Fiat badge in between.

The twin pod headlights are carefully underlined by a pair of fog lights that improve vision in misty foggy times. The side profile is a combination of sophistication and muscle. The beefed wheel arches gradually merge into the waistline. The 16’inch alloy wheels looks stunning and play an important role in defining its distinct style statement.

The stylishly protruding electrical ORVMs, clutch style door handles and a nicely embellished C pillar gives a coupe-like look to this sedan. The rear profile looks equally attractive with a large boot lid, chrome linings, and three light clusters of tail lamps. The ground clearance of 165mm accompanied by a strong suspension makes it a suitable option in terms of Indian roads. Fiat currently offers this sedan in seven vibrant colors which adds another feather to its cap.

Fiat Linea Cabin

On the inside you get the same refreshed interior of the 2014 Linea and the only addition is an intuitive five-inch touch screen system. Although the screen is on the smaller side, it is a high res unit and the piano black finish surround looks really nice. The dashboard itself has a nice flow to it and all controls fall to hand easily. The dull white and grey dual tone colour theme is livened up by the dim orange ambient lighting on the dashboard. Quality in some sections is exceptional and you get nice soft touch plastics for the dash top. But as you go lower down you will find some hard plastics and there are some ill-fitting panels too. But overall fit and finish is more than acceptable and is a huge jump over the original Linea.

Although the dashboard is ergonomic the same can’t be said of the driving position. Like before the pedals are still a bit off-set, the steering is placed too high and close to the driver and the front seats lack enough thigh support. On the positive side they are well contoured and back support is good too. At the rear, space is just about enough but the bench itself is comfy with good thigh support and a well-judged backrest angle. But headroom is in short supply and even people with average height will find it a bit cramped. The car still boasts of a humongous 500 litre boot that can accommodate your weekend luggage easily. But a larger opening and a lower loading lip could have make it more practical.

As far as equipment is concerned the Linea comes with a long list of features. The touchscreen infotainment system comes with a radio, Bluetooth connectivity, AUX, USB and you also get a navigation system. You also get unique bits like rain sensing wipers and automatic headlamps which add to the feel good factor. On the downside the Linea doesn’t get a rear camera, but thankfully the car comes equipped with parking sensors.

Fiat Linea Performance

Well here’s the bit of the review you’ve been waiting for. The T-Jet turbo-petrol has now been uprated to produce 125PS of power at 5000rpm and 208Nm of torque at 2000-3500rpm and still comes paired with a 5-speed manual gearbox. As expected, this engine behaves like a puppy on a sugar-rush. The throttle response is immediate and while you do get a turbo-surge, there’s no noticeable lag before it. This makes it a city-friendly engine with adequate performance for moderate speeds, not to mention, the engine note’s pretty sweet too.

Slam the accelerator and you get wheelspin quite easily and yes, there’s a good amount of torque-steer that can kick in even in 2nd gear. The motor has a great mid-range though, which makes it a joy on the highway. However, while the engine is now 11PS and 1Nm wealthier, it’s only marginally noticeable when you drive it.

The brickbat though, still goes to the transmission. The clutch isn’t heavy, but the long travel makes it cumbersome to use, especially in the city. You have to drive the car for a while to perfect the clutch’s bite point, which may involve stalling a few times. The gear lever too, is still rubbery and isn’t sure slotting. Can you adapt to it? Yes, but if a car is aiming to be the best performance sedan in the segment, the gearbox should’ve been a benchmark. To know more info on Fiat Linea check Byteintobigdata

Fiat Linea Riding

Now to the aspect the Linea has always shone in. Despite raising the ground clearance to an SUV rivalling 190mm, this Fiat is still one of the finest in terms of both ride and handling. The steering which feels a bit heavy at low speeds, comes alive as you go faster and it provides good feedback and it weighs up consistently too. The car does roll quite a bit when you corner hard but never to the point of feeling nervous or out of its comfort zone and the wide 205 section tyres provide loads of grip too. If the handling is good then the ride is even better. You do feel some firmness at lower speeds but is well judged and the Linea absorbs the biggest of potholes with aplomb. The high 190mm ground clearance combined with the long travel suspension makes it perfect for our ever broken and rutted roads. Straight-line stability is exceptional too and this combined with the potent engine makes it a potent long distance tool. The brakes though feel wooden and a more progressive brake feel would have been welcomed.

Fiat Linea Safety

Braking and safety, both these aspects have been looked well by Fiat in Linea. The halting of front wheels is supported by disc brakes while the rear wheels have been awarded with drum brakes. The larger diameter of disc brakes allows instantaneous deceleration of car while the safety aspect in sudden braking is looked into by Anti Lock braking System (ABS) and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) system that distributes braking force equally to all four wheels preventing sliding and squealing of tyres. Other measures taken to ensure safety of its passengers include an Anti-theft engine immobilizer, Fire Prevention System (FPS), 3 safety headrests, programmable speed limit that helps controlling speed of the car, digital door open indicator, power steering, and double crank prevention system.

Fiat Linea Price in Chennai

Fiat Linea On Road Price is 8,40,567/- and Ex-showroom Price is 7,14,624/- in Chennai. Fiat Linea comes in 5 colours, namely Magnesio Grey,Sunbeam Gold,Tuscan Wine,Hip Hop Black,Minimal Grey. Fiat Linea comes with FWD with 1368 CC Displacement and 4 Cylinders with Maximum Power 112 bhp@5000 rpm and Peak Torque 207 Nm@2200 rpm DRIVE TRAIN FWD and reaches 100 KMPH at N/A . Fiat Linea comes with Manual Transmission with FWD .Check for Fiat Linea price in Chennai at Tryaldrive.

Fiat Linea Bottomline

Fiat has done well to introduce the new updates and, true to its core values, the brand hasn’t shifted focus away from the driver. By giving the T-Jet motor more power, the Italians have made the 125 S one of the best driver’s cars you can buy at a reasonable price (Rs 10.46 lakh, ex-showroom, Delhi).

However, these token additions aren’t enough to make the Linea sell significantly better. Apart from Fiat’s sales and service network being more of a gamble than a bet, the Linea itself is showing its age and even Fiat lovers are shying away to more proven alternatives. The company needs to revamp its presence in India and go beyond the Linea-Punto formula to win over new buyers and reassure the loyalists that Fiat is indeed, crafted for car lovers.

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