The Fiat Linea is a rather hard car to dislike, it really is that good looking. The Linea has always cut a very pretty picture which is one of the bigger reasons why people buy it. But beneath the skin lay an imperfect product. The question is, with this facelift, have Fiat fixed the not-so-nice bits, or have they made the good bits worse?
New bumpers, larger air dams and a fresh grille along with plenty of chrome make for a smart look that we believe is still very elegant
As the word suggests most of the external changes are around the face. New bumpers, larger air dams and a fresh grille along with plenty of chrome make for a smart look that we believe is still very elegant. Whether you think it's better or worse is something you can tell us in the comments section below.
The side remains untouched except for the new mirrors with integrated turn indicators but the rear gets some subtle changes. The number plate is moved up into the bootlid and there's some neat chrome detailing with 'Linea' embossed on it.
The number plate is moved up into the bootlid and there's some neat chrome detailing with 'Linea' embossed on it
Usually that's where the ball stops but Fiat went the extra mile and gave the interiors a thorough refresh as well. The new dual tone dashboard looks great and oozes the Italian flair owners and prospective buyers so love about this car. In a nice touch, there's also some smart new orange mood lighting that bleeds through the dash and door pads in a manner similar to you'd find in much more expensive cars.
Despite being one of the longest cars in its class, knee room is just about reasonable but nowhere close to the Honda City or Nissan Sunny
There are some negatives however - the tiny buttons on the centre console are difficult to use and don't have a very nice feel. The front of the car has only one usable cup holder and there's no practical place to store things like a cell phone or wallet. Plastic quality in areas like the steering column shroud still need to improve. Then there's the six-speaker sound system that remains tinny and flat sounding. Things improve at the rear where passengers get an AC vent and sun blind. Despite being one of the longest cars in its class, knee room is just about reasonable but nowhere close to the Honda City or Nissan Sunny.
We drove the 1.3-litre Multijet diesel that uses a variable geometry turbo to kick out 93PS and 209Nm.
Mechanically, Fiat has left the Linea untouched. We drove the 1.3-litre Multijet diesel that uses a variable geometry turbo to kick out 93PS and 209Nm. The driving experience feels the same - you sit in an rather awkward driving position where either your legs are scrunched up and your arms are happy or your legs are comfy and your arms are stretched to their limit. The situation would have significantly improved if the steering was adjustable for reach but it only tilts up and down. Gearshift quality is precise with a hint of notchiness and the long travel clutch is very lightly sprung. There's quite a bit of lag till 2000rpm and the real rush only begins above 2300rpm before tapering off at about 4000rpm. It's a vocal but rev-happy engine and can be fun as long as you're willing to do a lot of work with the gearbox. Our test figures for the Linea indicate a 0-100kmph time of 15.6 seconds and a top speed of 169kmph. The diesel returns 14.9kmpl in city and 19.1kmpl on the highway for a combined efficiency of 15.9kmpl.
The tiny buttons on the centre console are difficult to use and don't have a very nice feel
Ride quality has always been Linea's strong point and it sails over broken roads with a composed and unruffled feel. It also has plenty of usable ground clearance (185mm) as I discovered when I inadvertently dropped it into a deep pothole and didn't scrape anything. It's a good handler with plenty of grip and good front-end feel thanks to a feelsome hydraulic steering setup. The steering can however get a little heavy at town speeds and the wide turning radius doesn't help.
Fiat offers the Linea with a huge list of features, even more so than its Japanese and Korean rivals. The top end variant gets auto headlamps, auto wipers, cruise control, Bluetooth telephony, ABS and two airbags and more. With a price range of Rs 7.2-9.9 lakh ex Mumbai the Linea makes great value given the kit it comes with. So to sum up, the good parts are better but the negatives remain. The Linea then is still an endearing car, but it still isn't the best among its peers.