2014 Fiat Linea: First Drive review

New face lifted Linea is first of four launches in India Fiat has planned for 2014, all of which debuted at Delhi Auto Expo earlier this year. With new Linea selling in good numbers across Fiat’s own 75+ dealerships, older twin is still sold at marginally lesser price. But, a dealer in Coimbatore confirmed that Linea classic will be sold only till stocks last, and no more will be supplied from factory. Guess its arrivederci old Linea then.

Fiat linea drive review 1 front quarterNow, we got a chance to spend some quality time with new Italian dame in town and here’s all we experienced:

New Linea’s sense of charm seems to have gotten more mature with its new front grille extending an innocent chrome smile upto the headlamps. Redesigned bumper carries level chrome slat between its new fog lamp housing. Upon closer look, those upright continuous slats that old Linea used to show, is camouflaged behind in black.

Rear bumper however lost its licence plate privileges to boot lid, receiving a thick and long horizontal chrome strip instead. On a personal note, the curvy compliment presented by old Linea’s boot lid and bumper in conjunction with tail lights is the most hauntingly beautiful feature a Linea could ever show, but new one does attempt to carry the same essence. Thanks to preserved tail light design. Rear bumper also undergoes another visual revamp with plastic under-cladding, making it look higher from ground level. Overall silhouette of New Linea stays same in terms of shape as well as size. Time to get inside!

Fiat linea drive review 6 rear quarterOn first impression, interiors give a refreshing appeal with new dashboard design in dual-tone beige-black theme. Plastic quality is good as it used to be, with a better finesse added by soft-touch feel of beige overlaid segments. The bifurcation line on dashboard on shotgun side presents a subtle orange glow coming out of the creek, intended to light up in-cabin aura (only in top-end Emotion). Piano black finished central console also emits orange spirit into the cabin from LCD backlights. Instrument cluster (also orange back-lit) sees some minor contemporary touch to keep up with current trend. Music system has not been upgraded, but still features Aux-in, USB and Blue & Me bluetooth connectivity that accepts voice commands. Auto headlamps and rain sensing wipers are available in all variants.

Fiat linea drive review 11 dashboardNew inclusions in top of the line Emotion variant includes perforated leather upholstery and rear sun blind.

In-cabin utility features include sunglasses compartment, tiny cubby hole beneath driver’s arm rest, one near gear rod and a mini glovebox kind of compartment on driver’s right below air-con vent and light controls. Pockets on all doors are reasonably sized, capable of carrying water bottles. Cup holders are not available anywhere near front row seats, but rear seated passengers enjoy arm rest concealed utility tray and twin cup holders. They also get sufficient leg, knee and head room in new Linea, although not best in class. Boot volume however remains enormous and functional with 500 litres capacity.

In a nutshell, new Linea’s cabin is refreshing, functional and friendly.

Power train options stay the same as old Linea’s with 1.3 Multi-jet VGT diesel and 1.4 T-jet petrol engine coupled to a five speed manual gearbox. We drove the diesel fuelled Linea which gives out max. power of 93PS at 4000 rpm and 209 Nm max. torque at impressive 2000 rpm. While driving in busy roads inside city, drivetrain is smooth and offers effortless navigation through traffic, but as soon as you spot an empty stretch and step on the gas pedal, you realise the phenomena of “turbo-lag” and wait-for-it until tacho clocks past 2000rpm. Multi-jet engine is still a tad under-refined at high engine speeds, evidently displayed by cabin penetrating noise and feel of it. Otherwise, it is very enjoyable to drive and holds great punch between gears beyond 2000 rpm mark.

Fiat linea drive review 13 centre consoleCruise control feature available in top-end Emotion variant is a new addition, which works past 50 km/hr or so on speedo. Despite its necessity in a city car on Indian roads, it is still a nice feature to boast.

Contrary to featuring highest ground clearance of 185mm in the segment, new Linea takes on intense twists and corners like a breeze with least body roll or tail out cases. Suspension and Steering characteristics must be praised as it gives best possible experience behind wheels, among its close rivals. Be it a ruggedly punishing patch or shiny new tarmac, new Linea handles the situation enthusiastically, giving driver absolute control and least impact through dampers.

Fiat linea drive review 9 front side viewTo sum it up, charming looks, torquey engine, responsive gearshift, light clutch, steering providing right amount of feedback, height adjustable seat, high ground clearance, and impressive braking make the new Linea one hell of a ride for under 10 lakhs (ex-showroom).

Price list for diesel Linea multi-Jet is as follows, Linea multi-Jet Dynamice variant is Rs 9,50,504 (ex sh Mumbai), and Linea Multi-Jet Emotion for Rs 9,96,629 (ex sh Mumbai).

Petrol Fiat Linea price is as follows: Active Rs 7,22,142 (ex sh Mumbai), Linea T-Jet Active Rs 7,65,726 (ex sh Mumbai), Linea T-Jet Dynamic Rs 8,77,907 (ex sh Mumbai), Linea T-Jet Emotion Rs 9,27,218 (ex sh Mumbai), Linea Multi-Jet Active Rs 8,35,524 (ex sh Mumbai).

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