Shootout – Tata Manza vs Fiat Linea
While the Fiat Linea and Tata Manza share their engines, both are very different cars.
Tata Motors recently updated the Indigo Manza line-up with the Club Class label. The company launched a new EXL variant, which boasts of more features but also results in a steeper price which is around sniffing distance of the Fiat Linea. While the Fiat Linea is perceived to be in a higher segment, the price difference between these two cars makes us put them together in a sibling rivalry shootout. The Tata Manza does outsell the Fiat Linea by a big margin every month, owing to its cheaper pricing and better marketing by Tata Motors, both cars are so similar yet so different, but which one would you rather choose?
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Exteriors – Anyone who has seen the Fiat Linea can vouch for the fact that its one of the best looking cars in its segment. The same cannot be said about the Tata Manza, which is starting to look outdated. Tata Motors has given a lot of chrome all around to make the Manza look premium but the Fiat Linea’s understated elegance is simply unmatched. On the styling front, the Linea is way ahead of the Manza, even though the Fiat’s design is older. The Linea looks well proportioned with the right dose of chrome where it is needed.
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Interiors – Step inside either of these cars and there is very little to choose form in terms of overall quality, fit and finish levels. Both cars offer steering mounted audio controls, Bluetooth telephone pairing, climate control, leather seats, etc. Although the Manza has a much better audio system, with touchscreen, navigation and maps, the Linea’s Blue&Me system offers clearer reception of calls. The Linea also has automatic headlamps, better wipers and bigger tyres (205/55/16 against 185/60/15). The Manza’s interiors offer much better interior room, more so at the rear. The Manza’s rear seat offers splendid legroom and the Linea is simply no match for the comfort levels of the Manza. There is ample amount of space to stretch inside the Manza even though the Linea has a longer wheelbase.
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The Linea’s interiors are very good too, with a driver centric centre console, a typical Fiat trait. The steering wheel of the Linea has contours for better holding and that makes it a joy to steer the car. The Linea also has a smart looking instrument cluster which is the right size, while the Manza’s console feels a bit small. The gets a bigger boot and the foldable key feels much better to use than the rather regular key of the Manza. Fiat’s built quality is better too with the Linea’s doors shutting with a resounding thud. Overall, more features and space in the Manza make it a better pick in the interiors department.
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Performance – Both the Fiat Linea and Tata Manza are powered by the same 1.3-litre diesel engine, which is essentially a Fiat powertrain. Badged as the Quadrajet90 in the Manza, this oil burner belts out 89 BHP of power at 4000 RPM and 200 Nm of torque between 1750-3000 RPM. In the Linea, the output is slightly higher, with the Multijet motor generating 93 BHP of power at 4000 RPM and 209 Nm of torque at 2000 RPM. With almost similar output, performance is quite identical. Both cars use the same 5-speed manual gearbox which feels identical to use in both cars.
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While both cars are quick for the output they offer, the Manza feels a bit more eager, owing to its lighter weight and the turbo kicking in at a lower RPM. Power delivery in both has similar characteristics, low end turbolag, strong mid-range and average top end. This Fiat engine is truly a gem and is the life of both these cars, giving them fantastic performance and good mileage. The Manza’s smaller tyres enable it to get a slightly better mileage too, although by not much. The Multijet or Qjet, whatever you may call it, will return upwards of 15 km/l in city driving conditions. The same 1.4-litre FIRE petrol engine is used by both cars and offers average performance. The Linea has a high performing T-Jet (Turbo Charged Petrol) motor which is currently not available on the Manza.
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Driving Dynamics – The major difference between the Tata Manza and Fiat Linea is the way they drive. Fiat certainly knows how to get a good balance of ride and handling, which is apparent in the Linea. The Linea feels surefooted around corners although the 2012 edition has lost its sheen a bit. However, Linea is still the better handler of the two by a decent margin. The Manza’s handling is neutral and the steering doesn’t respond as well as the Linea.
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Clearly Tata Motors has designed the Manza for comfort and not for outright handling and that is why the Manza rides better than the Linea. Ride quality of the Linea is slightly stiff, but the Manza is more comfortable and pliant. Braking performance of both cars is good, aided by ABS, but the Linea is that little bit ahead owing to better pedal feel. The Manza is easier too maneuver though, thanks to the much lower turning radius. The Linea is also more glued at high speeds and feels the better of the two to drive.
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Verdict – After putting both these cars through their paces, we can clearly say the Fiat Linea is a much superior product in most parameters. However the Tata Manza is the more affordable of the two, with the EXL diesel variant retailing at Rs. 10.40 lakhs, against the Fiat Linea Emotion’s 11.08 lakhs pricing. The Manza has evolved into a much better product and is the vehicle to buy if you are looking at comfort but for everything else, the Fiat Linea is still the better vehicle, offering an involving drive and Fiat desirability.
The Tata Manza runs the Fiat Linea close, but other than better interior space, the Linea is a superior product.
Further Reading –