Fiat Linea Multijet Long Term
Car Tested: Fiat Linea Multijet Emotion
Kms Done: 3012 kms
Test Started at: 9011 kms
Test Concluded at: 12,023 kms
Mileage: 13.82 km/l (mostly city running); 15.41 km/l (best), 11.02 km/l (worst)
Major Repair – None
Service Cost – None during the test
The Fiat Linea still impresses with its timeless Italian design and great ride quality.
Fiat has been surviving on the Grande Punto and Linea for quite a while now. The Fiat Linea has been the company’s flagship model and has sustained itself in this ever so competitive market, in spite of sporting a dated design. Don’t get us wrong, we are only appreciating the fact that it has managed to look so elegant and classy even though the car was designed more than 6 years ago. We have driven almost every variant of the Fiat Linea right from the time of its launch, this time we use the Linea as our daily drive and find out if it still as impressive.
The classic Italian design fails to fade away and still looks as eye-catchy. There is no sharp element in the design and the round contours manage to hide its age well. The dual headlamps light up the road well at night. Muscular wheel arches and multi-spoke alloy wheels give a muscular character to the car. The tail lamp assembly too looks nicely detailed and adds to the value. The gold colour looks exceptionally good on this car. Doors are heavy and shut with a loud thud to show the impressive built quality and the Linea feels like a vault.
Fiat has improved the interior quality over the last couple of years and the Linea not only gets better plastics but also improved fit and finish. Even after 10,000 kms of use, there was not a single rattle from our test car. The dashboard design is the same and the controls do look like they are ageing but work pretty well. The leather seats are comfortable on long journeys and there is enough space both at the front and rear. Tall passengers will find the under thigh support lacking, especially at the rear. However, back support is really good and even after long drives there is hardly any fatigue. The boot has gas filled pistons which make it easy to open the boot lid. It’s a good addition since the boot lid itself is quite heavy.
The audio system allows CD/radio and USB connectivity. The USB input is placed in the glove box and it’s quite difficult to access from the driver’s seat. Sound quality is average and audio controls mounted on the steering only add to the convenience. Fiat was one of the first companies to offer BlueTooth telephony in the segment. The Microsoft developed Blue & Me (phone connectivity) works well once the phone is paired but pairing the phone is a little confusing and tricky and it takes a few attempts before you can master it. On the downside, there is no BlueTooth streaming and there is no way you can stream music from your device which is quite a letdown. The AC cools pretty well and automatic climate control ensures uniform cabin temperature. Rear AC vent helps in maintaining the cabin temperature and is very useful for rear passengers in our tropical climate.
Under the hood is the tried and tested 1.3-litre Multijet diesel engine which produces 90 BHP of power at 4000 RPM and 209 NM of torque at 2000 RPM. Unlike the Punto, the Linea uses a Variable Geometry Turbo (VGT) and this is mainly responsible for the additional 15 BHP this engine produces over the Punto. Power delivery is linear with a good low and mid-range. Peak torque comes in at an early 2000 RPM which makes city drivability quite easy. However, by no means it will scorch the tarmac. The Linea is quite heavy and this does not play in favour of outright performance. Having said that, it offers reasonable performance for both city and highway driving. On our test the best fuel efficiency we got was 15.41 km/l on a highway run. The average fuel efficiency on our test was 13.82 km/l which is mainly attributed to its heavy weight. The worst fuel efficiency in city traffic was 11.02 km/l.
The Fiat Linea is equipped with a hydraulic power steering. While this steering certainly feels alive while pushing the car around corners, it makes the car less fuel efficient as compared to an electric unit. Fiat has raised the ground clearance of the Linea to 185 mm in 2012 and this has taken away a bit of the superb driving dynamics this car offered. 16-inch wheels do help restoring the dynamics but as we have mentioned in our previous reviews, the handling is not as sharp as it used to be, but it’s still very good and better than most of its competitors. The steering feel is decent but still not as precise as you would expect from a hydraulic unit, especially at triple digit speeds. The Linea still boasts of an impressive ride quality and even on bad roads, the Linea seems to be well composed. Brakes offer good stopping power too.
Fiat is in the process of developing its own dealership network and will have quite a few dealerships by the end of this year. Fiat’s marriage with Tata Motors was marred with non-availability of spares and poor service which had left more than a few dissatisfied customers. Things are now set to change for the better. Service costs (as on September 2013) related to the Linea are as follows –
1. Engine Oil – Rs. 2575/-
2. Air Filter – Rs. 402/-
3. Oil Filter – Rs. 411/-
4. Fuel Filter – Rs. 2050/-
5. Front Brake Pads – Rs. 2780/-
6. Rear Brakes Pads – Rs. 1123/-
7. Clutch and pressure plate – Rs. 4728/-
8. Front Bumper – Rs. 2000/-
9. Headlight assembly (with bulb) – Rs. 4038/-
10. Tail-light assembly (with bulb) – Rs. 2771/-
(all prices are excluding tax)
Even though few of the spares are more expensive than the competition, bear in mind that the Fiat Linea needs to be serviced only once a year or 15,000 kms (whichever is earlier). Work out the maths and it’s still more economical than the cars which need to be serviced every 10,000 kms.
The Fiat Linea may be an old horse but it still has a charm of its own. The enthusiasts will certainly want more performance out of the engine and Fiat should address these issues with the soon to be launched 1.6-litre Multijet engine. The Linea may lack on the mileage front but it’s sorted in most departments. Be it the design or the driving dynamics, the Linea still continues to impress. Fiat cars have a cult following in India and Fiat fans are still bound to give the Linea a thumbs up. For others, Fiat are on a reform and once this shapes up, Fiat will be a worthy contender in the Indian automobile market.