We drove the 2014 Fiat Linea 1.3 litre turbo diesel MultiJet over a weekend and logged about 500 city and highway kilometers. The test vehicle had already been ‘run in’ when we got our hands on it. The car held up very well for the two days that we battered it. Read on..
2014 Fiat Linea
Fiat claims to have tuned the engine to perfection this time around. As an owner of a 2009 Fiat Linea (diesel), I can confirm in all earnestness that they tried. While the engine has definitely been refined and tuned, it may not deliver the finely crafted performance as advertised.
Being powered by a diesel engine, the new Fiat Linea attracts your ears to the start-up diesel clutter. Shift into first gear and the car moves off the block with a somewhat slugish pace. Second gear is no charm either. But shift it into third, and that’s where some of the finely crafted performance starts to kick in. And it only gets better, the faster you are.
The gear ratios leave a lot to be desired, but the car certainly does not lack in the power department. We managed to hit 150kmph and the car seemed like it had only begun to warm up. Traffic, as always, required us to keep our speed in check, as did the low visibility. We are certain, however, that the new Fiat Linea has enough juice to breach the 190kmph mark with relative ease.
What would really interest a driving enthusiast is the new cruise control system. This simple addition to the already powerful engine makes driving the Fiat Linea an absolute pleasure. A simple push of the lever to the left of the steering wheel and you’re good to go. Once the cruise control is engaged, your feet can start tapping to the music. Be warned though that the cruise control system is something that takes a while to get used to.
Ride and Handling:
Like most other budget sedans available today, the Fiat Linea rolls out of the factory with tubeless tyres (Goodyear) as a standard fit on all the models. The diameter varies between 15 and 16 inches based on the model. Alloy wheels are also available as an option on the higher-end models.
We managed to do some very adventurous high-speed turns that would normally make a car scream like a teenager. The car held on surprisingly well. The steering is direct and here the Linea makes you feel happy. It listens to the commands of the driver and follows the line the way driver wants. Its surely fun to drive with hydraulic power steering that gives you fantastic feedback, though steering is slightly heavy. If you love driving, this is the sedan after Ford Fiesta to have fantastic driving experience on curvy roads and ghats in ‘powerband’. The chassis and suspension setup are so well to ensure every action of car in spirited driving is in utterly control of the commandeer.
The suspension and the 16 inch wheels on the test vehicle ensured a supremely comfortable ride throughout. Speed bumps, potholes, stray debris, roadkill – nothing seemed to bother the ‘built-for-Indian-roads’ suspension. The ground clearance is also something that the Italians seem to have sorted out perfectly for Indian roads. The test vehicle was stuffed with three passengers and we did not have a single instance where the under-body touched or grazed anything; even on some of the monstrous speed-bumps in the city. Fiat has lived up to the ‘Ride the High Life’ claim with its best-in-class ground clearance.
The build-quality is quiet sturdy and the car does not give away a soft-sedan vibe at all. We were rear-ended by a public transport bus in the city and the car came out of it without a scratch. The dual airbags give you that extra peace of mind knowing they will engage upon impact. Fortunately we didn’t have to test out the airbags and hopefully never will. It also boasts an Antilock Braking System (ABS) and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), which didn’t make a discernible difference to the ride quality in the city but were pretty useful on the highway.
Interiors & Embellishments:
As you step into the car, the first thing that catches your eye is the dual-toned interior which is a very classy touch. The dash has been revamped completely and now sports circular air-vents on the sides. The controls for the air-conditioning system remain the same. The music system has been given a much deserved facelift and now has buttons that pop slightly out of the housing for precise selection.
One of the better features is the ‘Blue & Me’, using which you can connect your mobile device to the on-board system using Bluetooth. This enables the making and receiving of calls possible without having to touch your phone. The initial set-up is a little tricky but once connected, it works like a charm. Although a similar feature was also available earlier, its visibility near the gear knob will make you take notice. There is also a USB port and an auxiliary-in port for those inclined to play music using handheld devices. By changing a few settings on your android device, the USB port can also be used as a power source to charge your phone.
There is a neat ambient light on the dashboard just above the glove compartment which adds to the aesthetics of the dashboard. The roof-lights (near the driver) are tricky to figure out in one go. We had to fiddle around to figure out what exactly happens when each button is pushed one way. The instrument cluster has been slightly revamped to blend in perfectly with the dashboard.
Some fancy features which we weren’t able to test completely are the rain sensing windshield wipers and the programmable service reminders. Both of these are available as standard inclusions on all models. What especially caught our attention was the auto-switch on/off headlamps and we were almost about to write it off as a malfunction. Much later, when the headlights automatically turned on inside a dimly lit tunnel, did we realise the beauty of this feature. The reverse parking sensors are a nice touch. However, it only boasts of a beeper and no display to actually tell you the distance before ramming yourself into something. Illuminated vanity mirrors are available on the top-end models.
What we didn’t like is the seating posture. The front seats seem to slide down towards the floor on the rear which makes your seating posture almost like a kid learning to drive. The height adjustment lever is of a help in correcting this. The positioning of the steering wheel adds to the conundrum here. Getting in and out of the car may be a problem for big-bodied drivers who like the steering low and the seat high.
The presence of a rear armrest, while a good thought for 2 passengers at rear, makes the middle seat a bit uncomfortable for the 3rd passenger.
Additionally, the plastic flapson the seats, through which the front seat-belts pop out, is incredibly flimsy; just like the one on the old Fiat Linea. It showed sign of wear even on a relatively new test vehicle. The collapsible rear sun curtain, while practical, would have been better if it was automated. The current clip based mechanism would make it hard to use in case there is no passenger on the rear seat.
The new Fiat Linea is best friends with chrome. Front-grill, front-bumper, side moldings, door handles, rear-bumper, tail lights, boot-lid handle – everything has chrome. Not surprisingly, the extent of chrome is balanced enough to make the chrome blend in with the rest of the car.
The front grill and both the bumpers have been redesigned to give the car a sportier look. This change is more visible on the rear bumper which has a matte black trim towards the bottom. The license-plate housing has been moved from the rear bumper to the boot lid; presumably to make way for the parking sensors.
The side indicators have now been moved to the ORVM (electrically controlled) and the sides bear a badge of the model you’re driving. Daytime running lights would have been a good addition, had Fiat decided to add them. Similarly, a sun-roof wouldn’t have felt too out of place considering the competitors have already started offering them.
The all-new Fiat Linea isn’t. Do you think that sentence is incomplete? In a manner of speaking it is. However, it precisely describes the feeling you get driving the new Fiat Linea 2014. It would be a prudent buy for the Indian buyer considering the price range (6.99-9.72 lakh) and the other comparable options available. It is surely improved over the time and the features offered are value for money in 2014 Fiat Linea.
Author: Gaurav Rohra