Car Tested: 2009 Fiat Linea 1.4 FIRE Petrol Emotion Pack
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 8,32,808/-
When the Fiat Linea was launched in Europe, every auto journalist was buzzing with what to expect in the Indian version of the car, expectations were high and the Linea sure did not disappoint. The Linea is the first Fiat car to be launched in the comeback strategy with Tata Motors. But does it live up to the Italian name? It’s time we put the Fiat Linea through its paces to answer this question.
Exteriors – A Fiat is driven by passion and the Linea sure is a head turner. The car looks stunning, and one cant be oblivious of superb Italian designing. The best part of the front is probably the grill with the Fiat logo. This is the only way you can distinguish between a petrol and a diesel version. The diesel version has Multijet tag in the right corner of the grill.
The headlights give it a bit of a Aston Martin look, and the best part is that there are 2 reflectors, one each for the low and high beam, and in the high beam position the low beam works as well giving more than adequate light at night. The fog lamps give lateral throw which is pretty useful. The rear light cluster looks neat and the rear fogs are more go than show.
Interiors – From the inside, the Fiat Linea does not seem like a C-segment car. The vehicle is loaded with features and attention to detail is imminent. The drivers seat is equipped with lumbar support which firmly hugs your back and makes long drives extremely tireless. Sadly, the co driver has been deprived of lumbar support. The instrument cluster looks awesome, especially at night and gives a classic feel and the multi information display practically tells you everything you need to know.
The music system is decent and has provision for USB in the glove box. Automatic climate control and Audio controls on the steering wheel are standard in the top variants. Blue and me is something new in this segment. It takes some time to set up and once used to is quite handy. All you need is a phone equipped with Bluetooth which needs to be paired with the Fiat Linea, once paired, the blue and me handles calls and messages, which are displayed on the multi-information display screen, in the instrument cluster. However it gets quite irritating sometimes when it is unable to recognise commands possibly failing to recognise the Indian accent. The steering wheel has good grip and has depressions for fingers, which make it pretty convenient to hold, and all the buttons on the steering are easily accessible.
Legroom and headroom is adequate. The rear seat is comfortable and had 3 head rests, meant for 3 passengers and a rear curtain is provided as well, which is quite cool.
The interior has very cool lightning and lights up very well at night on unlocking the car.
The boot is big and rear folding seats are a plus point.
Built Quality – Built quality seems to be pretty good. The doors shut with a loud thud and and the doors as well as the boot is pretty heavy. The boot especially requires some effort to shut. Plastic quality was about average on some interior bits but overall Fiat has done a pretty good job with the quality and built of the Linea.
On the Move – Cranking the ignition, the 1.4 FIRE engine comes to life. Once the engine is running one can hardly make out whether the car is on. The key is practically inserted straight rather than sideways and this is quite useful at night. The Remote itself is very neat, a copy of the skoda type, wherein a tiny button flicks open the key and there is a button for boot release on the remote besides the regular lock and unlock. In case the car stalls while driving, one has to remove the key and then crank it. This is a safety mechanism to prevent damage to the starter which can incur if one cranks the car while the engine is on.
Putting the car in first gear seems to be an ordeal. The clutch is extremely heavy for a petrol car and requires some effort, and if that is not enough the notchy grearshift makes the matters worse. This is where the Linea disappoints. Once we are away, it took us some time to get used to the shifting mechanism, as the cluth had to be fully pressed to change gear. The pick up is decent and the steering is quite responsive. The doors automatically lock once the car reaches a speed of 20 kmph, which is very neat.
The OVRM’s are well positioned and may look small but prove to be good enough for the job. Look who is following the Linea!!!!!
The multi-information display is smart and shows a lot of data like the average speed, average, range, which doors are open etc etc. It also shows which track is playing via the USB and all communications through the Blue and me are displayed here as well.
The airconditioning is pretty effective and car cools pretty fast even if it has been standing out in the sun, this is also attributed to a rear ac vent, which is quite thoughtful and the first in the segment again.
One smart feature is that one can set up a speed limit and once the car has crossed the limit it will give a loud beep, reminding us to slow down. We had set the limit on 100 kmph and as you can see in the Linea video, the car beeps when it reaches 100 kmph. Another feature on the car is MY CAR, which informs about low brake fluid, low oil pressure etc and even reminds one if the car requires servicing. Airbags are standard on the top variant.
The car also comes equipped with follow me headlights which is basically headlights that can be kept active upto 3.5 minutes once you get out of the car to help you walk in the dark at night. It can be set from 30 seconds onwards.
In the city and especially in stop go traffic, driving the car was a task, continuous gear shifting was not an easy task , while on the highway the drive was simply effortless. Over our 250+ km test the car returned an average of 10.5 kmpl, which was quite good as the car was pushed to the limit on most occasions. This includes 50% city running and 50% highway running.
Ride, Handling and Braking – Ride and handling of the Linea is exceptional, we were pretty impressed with the way the linea handled and rode on pothole ridden Mumbai roads. The suspension soaked up almost 90% of the bumps making the ride excellent. The handling was one of a kind again, attacking a corner at 100 kmph, the Linea turns in effortlessly and responds to the steering inputs superbly, high speed stability was exceptional and the 195/60/15 Good year GT3’s may not be the best but they provide enough grip for the job. Considering that the car was driven hard for 12000kms, the tires did an exceptional job, considering that we smoked them for a while. The car is well balanced and fun to drive, and its no surprise that its used in rallying abroad.
Performance – We loved redlining this little beast and the sweet sound of its engine made us do it all the more. However you need to revv the engine hard to extract the best out of it. Low end torque is just about adequate to pull a car of this weight. We really wonder why Fiat didn’t put in a 1.6 powerplant in the Linea or better still the 1.4 T-Jet. The engine is not in the Honda City’s territory but still more than adequate for most buyers who buy the Linea to travel in comfort and style and not to simulate Michael Schumacher.
Conclusion – The Fiat Linea is good fun to drive car thanks to fantastic dynamics and comes loaded with features which are seen in cars much higher in the segment. Though is it is mainly up against the Honda City and the Ford Fiesta, it boasts of features which are not even seen in the Civic and the Corolla. Attention to detail is good and overall its a terrific car which more than justifies the price you pay for it but its the Tata service which may be hindering its sales. Fiat has a stunner on its hands, and with great features and exceptional ride & handling, the Linea is surely a comeback for Fiat in India.
- Ride quality
- Blue and me
- Accessibility of controls
- Engine sound
- Very well damped and lack of any kind of NVH
- Notchy Gearbox
- Heavy Clutch
- Lack of low end grunt
- Audio quality
- Tata service
Amazing attention to deatil, in the above pic, the mirror on the sunvisor has lights on the side which light up when the flap is raised.
Fiat Linea 1.4 Petrol Specifications –
- Engine: 1368cc, 16V, DOHC, 4 Cylinder
- Power: 90PS @ 6000rpm
- Torque: 115Nm @4500rpm
- Transmission: 5 Speed Manual
- Drive: Front Wheel
- Top Speed: 170 km/hr (est)
- 0-100 km/hr: 15.40 seconds (est)
- Fuel Consumption: 9-10 km/l (City), 11-12 km/l (highway)
- Fuel Type: Petrol Unleaded
- Suspension: Independent Wheel, Helical Coil Springs, Double Acting Telescopic Dampers and Stabilizer Bar (Front), Telescopic Beam, Helical Coil Springs, Double Acting Telescopic Dampers and Stabilizer Bar (Rear)
- Tires: 195/60/15 Tubeless
- Brakes: Internally ventilated discs (Front), Drums (Rear) ABS, EBD
- Safety: ABS, EBD, Dual SRS Airbags, Fire Prevention System, Anti-Theft Engine Immobilizer
Fiat Linea 1.4 Petrol Dimensions –
- Overall length x width x height: 4560 mm X 1730 mm X 1487 mm
- Wheelbase: 2603 mm
- Turning Radius: 5.55 m
- Ground clearance: 165 mm
- Boot Volume: 500 liters
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 45 litres
- Kerb Weight: 1240 kgs