Fiat Linea Classic Hatchback First Drive

Launched first in January 2009 in India, the mid-sized sedan Fiat Linea is an edgy saloon with true Italian DNA sporting perfect dimensions and a bunch of in-cabin goodies. The Fiat Linea range is available in two engine options spread across three variants; all mated to the five-speed manual gearbox. Fuel economy as rated by ARAI stands at 14.9km/l for the petrol variants and 19.5km/l for the diesel trims.

Compared to rivals in the segment, the saloon misses out on the automatic transmission and prominent features like airbags, steering mounted controls and an integrated touchscreen infotainment system among others. Under the skin, it comes with a choice between 1.4 litre petrol engine developing 89bhp and 1.3 litre Multijet engine making 75bhp, using a five-speed manual gearbox for transmitting power.

DESIGN AND STYLE ;

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.

CABIN AND COMFORT ;It is well furbished with various aspects that offer convenience to the occupants and also make the cabin look appealing. Seats are very cushiony and are covered up with fabric in top end and have vinyl seats in all other trims. The internal cabin that is made of high quality scratch resistant plastic that adds to the sturdiness of this vehicle. Inside door handles are in black in base ones and silver in higher variants. Head restraints of its rear seats have adjustable facility. In the high-end trim, there is an internal roof lamp which also has a dimming effect to it. There is an instrument cluster that is embedded with a lot of notifications. List comprises of a tachometer, a digital clock, programmable speed limiter buzzer, real time mileage indicator, a trip calculator with range, mileage/ average speed and duration. There is a lamp in the trunk also which helps to keep things properly even in the dark.

An air-conditioning unit is offered to all the trims as a standard variant and is regulated manually. This unit also consists of a heater. AC vents are also well placed in order to distribute the temperature equally to all corners. Only the top end trim has been blessed with a music system with a radio tuner and also which has a support to CD and MP3 player. All the doors are integrated with power windows with a delay and auto up function. The outside rear view mirrors are to be adjusted manually. A hydraulic power steering is bestowed, which will reduce the effort of the driver to a great extent. An armrest is provided for the rear seat as well. A cable is present for opening the boot lid in base and mid-level trims, while the high end is offered with a electrically regulated tailgate open. In top end variant, there is a vanity mirror fitted to the c-passenger side sun-visor. Tilt adjustable facility that is provided for its steering wheel will allow the driver to change the arm position while driving.

ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION ;

The Fiat Linea Classic has the same 1.3 litre Multi-Jet diesel engine as the old Linea with a major difference. This now has fixed geometry turbo and power has been brought down to 75 PS from 90 PS. This makes for a 17% drop in power and this is quite apparent when the car is driven on the highways, particularly at lower gears and slower speeds. The high torque diesel motor does provide ample power at higher speeds. The petrol motor offers 88 PS and is decent enough to drive as well. The driving experience is marred by the spongy clutch and the somewhat sluggish transmission unit.

RIDE AND HANDLING ;

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.

SAFETY AND SECURITY ;

Features such as exact door open indicators that avoid door crashes and accidents, a central door locking system, a defogger to the rear windshield and an anti lock braking system for avoiding the locking of brakes are offered to the top end variant alone. An engine and gearbox shield is present which will protect from major damage in case of external impact. A pair of fog lamps are fitted in the rear end too. In the front there are headlamps that have height adjustment facility. There are seatbelts integrated and for there is a reminder for the driver seatbelt. In order to keep away theft related worries, manufacturer has incorporated a feature of engine immobilizer. This has rolling codes for added security.

BOTTOMLINE ;

The main strength of Linea Classic is its high-quality engine and strong build quality and the growing service network which was a major setback earlier. And the competitive price tag has certainly given it a good boost in sales figures as well.

Hyderabad Auto Trade

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