Price (on-road, Mumbai): Dynamic 1.4 – Rs 8.94 lakhs; Emotion 1.3 – Rs. 10.51 lakhs; T-Jet Plus – Rs. 10.53 lakhs
Fiat India recently launched the 2012 Model Year Linea, which has small yet significant additions along with a re-shuffling of variants. The changes are really minimal and the Fiat Linea retains most of its positives, along with the company addressing customer feedback on the car by incorporating some minor changes. We have reviewed the Linea several times and you can read our review of the 1.4-Petrol Linea, 1.4-T-Jet Linea and 1.3-Multijet Linea. We will keep this review limited to the MY2012 Linea changes.
Fiat has not made any significant changes to the design of the Linea. The Linea certainly does not need styling tweaks at this moment and easily looks like one of the best cars in the C-segment. If it ain’t broke why fix it and that seems to have worked quite well here, with the Linea now being offered in a new shade (Oceanic Blue). Look at the Fiat Linea from any direction and you won’t think that it was launched as far back as 2007. The design over function approach is quite apparent and the overall dimensions of the car are extremely pleasing.
From the outside, the most apparent change is the jacked up ground clearance, which stands at a rather tall 185 mm (up from earlier). This increase in ground clearance takes away a bit from the seductive stance of the Linea. The gap between the wheel arches is now bigger and looks awkward. Fiat does offer 16-inch alloy wheels on the Emotion variant (which is available only with a Multijet engine). This brings us to the revision in the variants made by Fiat. The 1.4-litre FIRE petrol engine is available in two variants only (Active and Dynamic), while the 1.3-litre Diesel Multijet is available in three variants (Active, Dynamic and Emotion).
What Fiat has done to the 2012 Linea is offer more features on the lower end variants. The Emotion Pack variant has been done away with and all the features along with some new features (like 16-inch alloys, leather upholstery) have been given in the Emotion variant. The Dynamic variant gets most of the features which were earlier found on the Emotion Pack, while all variants now have automatic headlamps, rain sensing wipers, dual tone dashboard, remote keyless entry and integrated CD/MP3 audio system. ABS and airbags are now available on the middle level Dynamic variant as well. This makes the lower variants quite value for money.
The driving position has been unaltered while the interior space too remains unchanged. The Fiat Linea offers a good driving position to the driver but it takes some time to adjust the seats to your liking. Interior quality seems to have improved marginally and the dashboard now uses lighter two-tone colors to give an airy feeling to the occupants. The instrument cluster is fabulous and is easily the best we have seen in sub 20 lakh cars sold in India. The air-conditioner now works much better than before and cools the cabin much quicker. These changes are based on customer feedback and are quite welcome.
Start the engine of the Fiat Linea and it roars to life, just like it always has. There are no mechanical changes made to the powertrains and both the engines do a decent job but start to look underpowered in comparison to the competition. When Fiat launched the Linea in 2009, there wasn’t as much competition as there is today. Today Volkswagen, Skoda, Hyundai and Honda all offer much powerful engines of the Vento, Rapid, Verna and City respectively. No, the Linea is not underpowered and the engines do a decent job but more power never hurts, specially when your driving a car as beautiful as the Linea. Simply put, the Linea doesn’t have to go to match its show. Fiat needs to bring the 1.6-litre Multijet in the Linea as quickly as they can.
As far as the petrol engine goes, there is always the monster of the T-Jet engine which is available in the Linea. The T-Jet motor is so good that if there is a petrol sedan to buy, the Linea T-Jet it is. The 1.4-litre FIRE engine on the other hand lacks the thrust to instil fun in your daily drive. Producing 90 PS of peak power at 6000 RPM and 115 Nm of peak torque at 4500 RPM, the 1.4-litre FIRE engine powered Linea is quite good when it comes to NVH levels. However you need to work the gears and keep the revvs above 3000 RPM to make good progress. The engine is quite revv happy and vocal too and will suffice quite well for most. The enthusiasts amongst us shouldn’t settle for anything less than the T-Jet.
The increased ground clearance does have a negative effect on the way the Linea now handles, although by not much. The sharpness seems to have gone by a fair bit but the Linea still manages to be a good handler. The softer suspension benefits the Linea with excellent ride quality, which is easily class leading. The car absorbs bumps with ease and simply glides over them. The steering did not feel so accurate as the old model and the some body roll is now evident when you take corners with some bit of enthusiasm. Straight line stability is good and the Linea inspires confidence when you do triple digit speeds. The increased ground clearance also results in tension free time when crater size speed-breakers approach.
The 2012 Fiat Linea might have received just minute updates but they are quite significant in their own right. The changes are based on customer feedback, which is a re-assuring fact that the company is listening to its customers. Fiat will not be launching any new product in 2012 and they really don’t need to. Because the 2012 Linea is an excellent car which is easily the most beautiful and feature loaded vehicle in the C-segment. Fiat only needs to communicate this to prospective customers to increase sales and last we heard, the company is doing just that.