Fiat Linea Hatchback Review

Apart from the Fiat competizione, the Abarth Punto and the Urban Cross there was one more car which caught lots of attention at Fiat pavilion of the 2016 Auto expo and this was the new Linea 125s. Now the Linea 125s is based on the same Linea sedan which was actually launched way back in the year 2009 in India and honestly this car has started aging now. Perhaps Fiat wants to give this car a new lease of life until they launch a replacement for the Linea sedan.

Coming to the 125s, this variant of the Linea actually does not get a lot of cosmetic upgrades but what it gets instead is this interesting 1.4 litre T-Jet petrol unit under the hood of the sedan. Now you must be wondering what is so special about this new 1.4 litre T-Jet petrol motor, so for your information this is actually the same engine which powers the newly launched more aggressive and sportier Punto Abarth and the 595 Competizione. Get deals on Fiat Linea

DESIGN AND STYLE ;

The Fiat Linea 125S is based on the current generation Linea. t has got some cosmetic changes too. The Fiat Linea 125S looks premium no doubt and is also a desirable car. It was always a beautiful looking car and still is. The Linea can still give a run for their money to many a competition, even after so many years.

The Fiat Linea 125S has a black coloured front grille with the outside ring plated in chrome. The headlamps remain the same as on other Lineas. The front bumper is also the same but it gets a black centre part. The fog lamp bezels are also black in colour and this gives it an urban car appeal. The rear portion is the same, the only difference being new 125S badge on the boot lid. There is also a chrome plated exhaust tip present, which adds to the sporty appeal in the car. Fiat hasn’t made any changes on the Linea as it was showcased at the Auto Expo.

CABIN AND COMFORT ;

Step inside and you will immediately appreciate the all new dashboard which has a very premium touch to it. Quality levels immediately feel a notch up over the old model with the plastics now being soft touch. Without doubt the new dashboard bring a dose of freshness to the Linea. The design is well executed and has an Italian feel. The use of colours is also well done, with the top of the dashboard getting black colour while the centre uses light beige (with an interesting pattern) and glossy black finish used on the centre console and audio system. Fiat has also added ambient lightning to the car, whose orange colour uplifts the mood in the cabin.

The instrument cluster is all new as well, taken heavy inspiration from the now defunct Bravo. The new cluster has large pods for the speedometer and tachometer (with smaller ones for the temperature and fuel gauges) with a large rectangular display in between for the multi-information system (which shows an array of data) and other tell-tale functions. At first glance, the cluster doesn’t appear as easy to read on the move as the one on the old Linea but with time it grows on you. The old Linea had an open storage space right above the centre AC vents, the new one has a closed one. One cup holder has been removed at the front, right below the AC controls as Fiat has now placed the AUX and USB ports in lieu.

The Fiat Linea has always come loaded and the new model isn’t any different. In fact Fiat has only added features like the top-end variant now gets Cruise Control, a feature of not much use in India. Other features include dual airbags, ABS, leather seats, rear windshield curtain, automatic headlights and wipers (standard on all variants), 16-inch alloy wheels (15-inch on the lower trims), reverse parking sensors (which don’t beep right into your right ear like on the old model), Bluetooth audio system with good sound output, etc. Space inside the cabin is almost unaffected and you continue to get decent interior room with all seats offering good all round support but rear legroom is just about average. The roof lining is very neat but tall passengers will find headroom at a premium at the rear.

The Fiat Linea feels like a tank, build quality is exceptional and you really need to put in some efforts to close the doors, they are just so heavy. The AC chills in no time and we particularly like the way the AC vents are shaped in the new model. The glove box is all new as well and is decently big with a cooling function which has a light and two separate compartments (USB port has been shifted out). The steering wheel is among the few parts on the dashboard which has been carried over from the old car but we aren’t complaining as the steering is one of the best to hold with the right contours. The boot space is decent but ironically the Emotion variant which comes with 205/55/16 alloys comes with a 195/60/15 steel rim space saver.

ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION ;

The Linea 125 S is powered the same 1.4-litre turbo-petrol T-Jet engine as before, though its different state of tune results in an increased power rating of 125hp as compared to the earlier cars 114hp. The manner of delivery of this power, however, is the real highlight, the engine has enough low-range torque to allow you to potter about town comfortably and post the 2,000 rpm mark things really pick up robustly all the way up to 6500rpm, with power delivered in a linear and continuous fashion. Engine noise is well-contained at lower revs, and though you can hear it at higher revs, it is not unpleasant or unbearable.

The rev-happy engine should have been complemented with a better gearbox. Gear shifts aren’t sporty and feel rubbery.

The hydraulic steering has a nice, old-school feel to it, and it sends a good amount of feedback your way. However, it is heavier than some electrically operated systems and you can feel so around town. The car does not feel as composed as its predecessor at high speeds, but it corners with a nice heft. On the positive side, low-speed ride quality is among the best in its segment. The suspension feels solid and is absorbent and has the ability to swallow bumps and potholes. Add to this, the best-in-class ground clearance of 190mm, and you get a car very capable over bad roads.

RIDE AND HANDLING ;

All the variants except T-Jet versions come with disc and drum braking mechanism, while the T-Jet variants are loaded with disc brakes for all four wheels. Adding to this, the anti lock braking system and electronic brake-force distribution makes driving for more predictable. This ABS feature is available as standard for Dynamic, Emotion and all T-Jet variants. The Linea gets a superior suspension system as well. This car’s front axle has an independent wheel type of layout and the rear one gets a torsion beam type of mechanism. Both these axles are further loaded with helical coil springs along with double acting telescopic dampers and stabilizer bars that enables it to deal with all the irregularities on the roads. Not but the least, this sedan gets a highly responsive power steering system that makes for a predictable handling. Request test drive for Fiat Linea

BRAKING AND SAFETY ;

Braking and safety, both these aspects have been looked well by Fiat in Linea. The halting of front wheels is supported by disc brakes while the rear wheels have been awarded with drum brakes. The larger diameter of disc brakes allows instantaneous deceleration of car while the safety aspect in sudden braking is looked into by Anti Lock braking System (ABS) and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) system that distributes braking force equally to all four wheels preventing sliding and squealing of tyres. Other measures taken to ensure safety of its passengers include an Anti-theft engine immobilizer, Fire Prevention System (FPS), 3 safety headrests, programmable speed limit that helps controlling speed of the car, digital door open indicator, power steering, and double crank prevention system.

BOTTOMLINE ;

Fiat doesn’t intend to sell huge volumes with the new Linea 125 S. In fact, we wonder how many cars Fiat plans to sell at all, considering that the brand has not had a single functioning showroom in Mumbai (of all places!) for well over a year now. Nevertheless, 125 S is a decently specced car but doesn’t offer anything staggeringly new over the competition, apart from some added performance and a subsequent loss in efficiency.It will be a niche car which will likely be brought by an enthusiast or an existing Fiat owner. It though remains to be seen how it will fare against the Volkswagen Vento TSI in terms of performance. But let’s reserve that for later. The talking point of this car then remains its timeless form, that enthusiastic motor and sharp handling. Just like its Abarth siblings then.

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