Fiat Linea Classic Review
Car Tested: Fiat Linea Multijet Classic Plus
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 8,91,000/-
The Linea Classic offers surprisingly good performance in the city.
The demand for entry-level sedans is quite high in India as most hatchback buyers aspire to get into a three-box vehicle as soon as possible. The entry-level sedan segment, better known as the C-segment is dominated by sub 4-metre offerings from Maruti Suzuki and Honda while cars like the Toyota Etios, Ford Classic, Tata Manza and Mahindra Verito manage to do some decent numbers as well. In a bid to appeal to a wider audience, Fiat has launched the Linea Classic, which is nothing but the regular Linea sans some equipment, putting the car in a new price bracket. The company claims the Fiat Linea Classic is the longest car in the segment and thereby offers more for less. We analyse.
The Fiat Linea Classic looks like the regular Linea but is devoid of many features. Thus on the exterior side, you will find the front fog lights, alloy wheels, body side moulding, chrome door handles and chrome lining on the doors missing. Now these features do add to the premium touch of the vehicle but the lack of it on the Linea Classic isn’t much of a bother because the car continues to look attractive even in lower trim. If anything, the lack of 15-inch wheels do rob away the beautiful stance of the car. Mind you, the Linea is a long car and by far the longest in its segment (4560 mm length) which means you will always have the feeling of driving something bigger than what you paid for.
On the interior front, the Linea Classic lacks quite a lot of equipment you will find in cars of a similar price. Manually adjustable rear view mirrors aren’t very welcome at this price point as even hatchbacks are now coming with electrically adjustable ORVMs. Cost cutting is evident at several places. Although the car has four power windows, the driver side door has controls only for the front two power windows. The classy white Linea cluster is missing too but what’s really shocking is the spare wheel, which is a space saver of size 165/80/14, when the car runs on a tad bigger 175/70/14 tyres. Other things missing include keyless entry, USB and Bluetooth connectivity, steering mounted audio controls, etc.
On the brighter side, Fiat has retained one touch power windows, twin glovebox, multi-information display, follow me home headlamps and rear centre arm rest on the Linea Classic. The vehicle also turns off the headlights on its own if you forget to do so. Space inside the cabin of the Linea is generous although the sloping roof line does eat into the headroom of rear seat passengers. The seats are firm but comfortable and the visibility all around is good too, thanks to the large glass area. Fifth passenger isn’t going to be comfortable inside the Linea as the hump is significant and the seat back has the arm rest.
Fiat makes some solid cars and the Linea Classic is no exception. The vehicle feels well put together and the doors shut with a resounding thud. The AC is a chiller and the audio system offers decent sound quality. The Linea is the only car in its segment which comes with double-blade wipers which clean the windshield brilliantly. So as far as the cabin goes, the Linea Classic does offer more than its rivals with more solidity and a generous boot which can hold 500-litres of luggage.
When Fiat launched the Linea Classic, we all were skeptical about how it would perform as the 1.3-litre Multijet diesel engine only outputs 75 BHP of power and 190 Nm of torque, which is down on the regular Linea’s 90 HP and 209 Nm. Considering the regular Linea isn’t quick and the Linea Classic also weighs as much, we were expecting disappointing performance. However the Linea Classic has surprised us with the way it moves. The engine lacks VGT which has somehow become a blessing for the car in city conditions. Unlike the VGT equipped Linea diesel, this lower output motor has turbolag well contained which gives it slick performance in the city.
The Linea Classic’s mill is very tractable and power delivery is linear. You will never feel the lack of ponies in city conditions. Want to amble around town at 20 km/hr, sure you can do that in third gear without a hitch. 100 km/hr comes up in third gear near the redline while cruising on the highways in top gear at 100 km/hr will make the tacho needle tick at around 2500 RPM. What further complements the Linea Classic’s drivability is the light clutch with a dead pedal although the gearbox is a bit resistant and isn’t a fast shifting unit. One can expect a mileage of 14 km/l in the city and 16 km/l on the highway with 100% AC usage.
The meat of the performance comes between 2000-3500 RPM and post that the Linea Classic’ powerplant really starts to lose breath. NVH levels are good in the lower part of the powerband but once past 3000 RPM, the oil burner starts becoming audible and is very loud post 4000 RPM. The motor itself is very lethargic in the higher end of the power band and redline comes in at 5100 RPM. This isn’t a car you would want to rev hard as there is no top end power. Thus the Linea Classic doesn’t far well in outright acceleration and 0-100 km/hr takes around 18 seconds. You need to downshift on the highways to get going while overtaking.
Fiat has been known for giving a good blend of ride and handling in its cars. The Linea’s mature underpinnings means the Classic rides very well, better than the regular Linea thanks to the higher profile rubber. However handling isn’t as good due to the car being undertyred and the steering lacking the feel you expect from a Fiat car. Sure the hydraulic unit is heavy at low speeds and quick at high speeds but it isn’t feedback rich. There is pronounced body movement at high speed and that really robs away the feel from the car although the Linea remains firmly composed on the highways. Turning radius seems better thanks to the smaller wheels. Brakes are aided by ABS and offer very good stopping power, there is no EBD though.
Now arrives the crucial question. Does the Fiat Linea Classic make for a compelling case in the C-segment? We certainly think so. Amongst a sea of me too sedans, the Linea Classic offers a genuine European feel with its tank like build quality, attractive exterior styling, excellent ride quality and most importantly bigger dimensions. While the regular Linea Active is priced Rs. 75,000/- more than the top spec Linea Classic Plus, the latter is more feature loaded making it good value for money. The Linea Classic isn’t as loaded as similarly priced Japanese compact sedans but it has a definite character and that’s what makes it worth considering. With Fiat now finding its foot with a wide number of dealerships and the company offering a class leading 3-years/1 lakh kms warranty, there is no reason why admiration isn’t guaranteed with the Linea Classic.
The Linea Classic is an excellent alternative to sub 4-metre sedans as it has a charm of its own. If you drive mostly in the city, the Linea Classic is definitely worth a look.
* City performance
* Tank like build
* Ride quality
What’s Not So Cool
* Some equipment missing on top spec variant
* Engine not at home on highways
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