Fiat Linea T-Jet Review
Car Tested: 2013 Fiat Linea T-Jet Emotion
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 10,43,560/-
Get behind the wheel and the Fiat Linea T-Jet instantly feels special.
The first affordable turbocharged petrol car (sub Rs. 10 lakhs) in India was the Fiat Linea T-Jet, which was launched on 8th October 2010. Since then, we have had two more affordable turbo petrols hit our roads but the Linea is a car you buy with your heart. We have reviewed the Fiat Linea multiple times already but every chance of doing a review makes us all excited. So when the Italian automaker launched the 2013 Fiat Linea T-Jet, we just had to do a review of this beast, yet again. There is not much to differentiate the 2013 Linea T-Jet with the Linea T-Jet which was originally launched almost three years back. But has the Fiat Linea retained its charm and does the T-Jet powered vehicle still make you skip a beat?
On the styling front, Fiat will get maximum marks. Despite its age (the current design is almost 6 years old now), the Linea still manages to look highly attractive. The 2013 edition gets increased ground clearance (190 mm and 16-inch wheels in Emotion trim and 185 mm and 15-inch wheels in the Dynamic and Active variants). Previously the Linea T-Jet had a ground clearance of 170 mm and the 2013 model looks a bit ungainly with the increased height. The timeless design simply works and you always take a second glance at the Linea. Or probably the rarity of the vehicle on Indian roads increases its appeal further. The highlights on the exterior include the beautiful head and tail lights, coupe like sloping roof, muscular wheel arches and high use of chrome (on the grille, bumper corner protectors, side mouldings, door handles and exhaust tip). A subtle rear spoiler hints at the Linea T-Jet’s sporty intents while T-Jet badging sits on the front grille and boot. The 16-inch wheels fill the wheel arches very well.
Step inside and the first thing you will appreciate is the tank like feel of the cabin. However plastic quality is inconsistent at certain places and ergonomics are far from perfect (very little spacing between the pedals). The dashboard design is very driver centric with the centre console titled to the right. The cabin feels different from regular Japanese cars which dominate this segment and you do feel special inside the Linea. The steering is fantastic to hold thanks to the contours at 3 and 9’o clock positions. The dual tone black and beige interiors are appealing while the white leather upholstery offers an airy ambience. The all white instrument cluster looks classy but the reverse parking sensors are very irritating. The sensor’s speaker is placed above the driver’s seat belt and is exposed (wires can be seen), every time you slot into reverse, the sensor buzzes once for no reason and the sound directly hits your right ear.
The seats on the Fiat Linea T-Jet are extremely comfortable all around with good back support. Rear passengers will appreciate the decent legroom which although far from class leading, offers decent amount of knee room. However a fifth passenger is not invited as the rear seat isn’t big enough and the sloping roof line further hampers head room. On the features front, Fiat has loaded the Linea T-Jet with an array of equipment including the usual ABS, dual airbags, climate control, multi-information display, Bluetooth connectivity (Blue & Me), rear AC vents, follow me home headlamps, etc. New features on the 2013 T-Jet include rain sensing wipers, automatic headlamps, remote for audio system and rear windscreen sun blinds. The boot is quite big at 500-litres although the loading lip is a bit high.
Crank the 1.4-litre, 4-cylinder turbocharged powertrain and it instantly comes to life with a silent idle. The turbocharger has 2.2 bar of boost and the aluminium engine is Euro V ready. Slot the Linea into first gear and you will not appreciate the rather rubbery shift quality of the gearbox. This aside, the Linea T-Jet is seriously a fun car to drive and you can have ample fun by just playing with the throttle. The force fed motor belts out 114 PS of pure race bred horses at 5000 RPM and 207 Nm of twisting force at just 2200 RPM. That is almost as much torque as the diesel Linea from a petrol engine which quite well sums up the performance you can expect from the Linea T-Jet. Every time you bury the right foot, there is a satisfying thrust with which the rather heavy Linea moves (the T-Jet weighs 1230 kgs, which is 20 kgs more than the Multijet model and 50 kgs more than the regular petrol version).
The Linea T-Jet has a slight hint of turbolag below 1500 RPM but I would prefer to call it the silence before the storm. Because once the turbo spools in full form and flow, it gives you a gentle push in your seat at around 2000 RPM and the Linea T-Jet takes off. It even wheel spins in second gear, such is the amount of torque on tap. Mid-range is the strongest part of this engine and you will find yourself upshifting at around 5500 RPM, even though the redline comes in at around 6500 RPM. The Linea T-Jet doesn’t rev that quickly at higher revs and starts to run out of steam at around 5500 RPM and its best to keep the T-Jet motor in the peak of its powerband which is 2200 – 5000 RPM. You can amble along in third gear at speeds as low as 20 km/hr while at the same time you can smack the throttle to zip quickly to 140 km/hr, all in one GEAR!
The Linea T-Jet offers good city drivability too and as long as you are above 1500 RPM, you make good progress. In case the RPM drops below the 1500 mark, you need to make downshifts as the Linea feels almost dead between 1000-1500 RPM. The gearing could have been better as it would make the Linea T-Jet much quicker to 100 km/hr. In first gear, the Linea T-Jet will do around 49 km/hr, while second shows 94 km/hr. You need to upshift to third to do the 0-100 km/hr sprint, which takes around 10.70 seconds. This isn’t particularly fast but the Linea T-Jet is whole lot of fun and puts more smiles on your face than cars which are faster. It is quick to reach 150 km/hr and the sound from the engine is intoxicating, mildy throaty with a hiss from the turbo clearly audible. It does get coarse past 5000 RPM though. Top speed is 186 km/hr and mileage has improved from 14.6 km/l to 15.7 km/l (ARAI). Expect 10 km/l in real world conditions.
The dynamics of the Fiat Linea were spot on but the increase in ground clearance has messed it up to a certain extent. The Linea no longer handles like how it used to. It doesn’t feel as agile and glued to the road but Fiat raised the ground clearance as the old car used to scrape its underbelly at many speedbreakers. The 2013 Fiat Linea T-Jet simply glides over the worst of humps without kissing anything. However Fiat should have refrained from jacking up the T-Jet version which is mostly bought by enthusiasts who are ready to carefully tackle speedbreakers for the sharp and precise handling they get with lower ground clearance. The 2013 Linea T-Jet doesn’t feel as surefooted and has a slight hint of body roll too.
Ride quality is excellent and the suspension has been tuned very well to tackle the worst of Indian roads. Even with 55 profile rubber, the Linea absorbs bumps with thorough authority and only gets a bit jittered over real sharp bumps. Thankfully Fiat still sticks to hydraulic steerings (unlike everyone else who have opted for more frugal electric ones) and the Linea’s unit offers tremendous feedback and feels very precise at almost all speeds. The only gripe is the large turning radius which although reduced from 5.55-metres to 5.4-metres still makes it difficult to manoeuvre through tight spots. Braking performance is splendid and the all round disc brakes work well to stop the T-Jet firmly in its tracks. NVH levels are good although wind noise is on the higher side at high speeds.
Fiat sold just 174 units of the Linea last month and this car honestly deserves to do better sales numbers. The company claims every second Linea sold is powered by a petrol engine and we are certain that most of those petrol powered cars sold are powered by the T-Jet motor. The Linea T-Jet is not only the most frugal petrol Fiat in India but the most fun too. The 2013 Fiat Linea T-Jet is a bit more practical with more variants available and more features on offer. The Linea T-Jet Active is priced at 8.99 lakhs while the Dynamic variant is priced at Rs. 9.97 lakhs and Emotion variant costs Rs. 10.44 lakhs (all prices on-road, Mumbai). At this price point, there is no sedan that comes close to offering the levels of thrills and emotional appeal as the Linea. With Fiat now setting up and expanding its independent dealership network, if you love driving, it is indeed the time to ‘Make the move’.
The Linea T-Jet is undoubtedly the best driver’s sedan in its segment, offering thrilling performance.
* Fantabulous T-Jet motor
* Ride quality and brakes
* Overall appeal
What’s Not So Cool
* Increased ground clearance hampers handling
* MY2013 Linea should have got a more substantial update