Saturday, February 07, 2009

New Fiat Linea -Review,Onroad price & more

Update: Linea is now available in Multijet and also suspension kits are available to increase its ground clearance. Fiat plans to separate from tata motors and launch its own showrooms.

The most interesting thing for me in Linea was the classic looks. While most car makers are reducing the grill size and giving their cars more clean, sharp and aero dynamic looks, Linea flaunts large grills, which look large because the grills are extended downwards into the bumper (this has a downside too-radiator is over exposed to potential damages), giving it a retro look without compromising on the aero dynamics. I remember seeing images of some Jaguar variants with similar aggressive looks.
One advantage of working in a large IT campus is that lots of people come here to showcase their products or services and we can experience them for free, without any compulsion of buying them. (But a disadvantage is that they expect us to buy their products/services). Fiat Linea was on display outside our office and several people had gathered around it enjoying its looks. While others were discussing the looks I went ahead and asked the representative for a test drive. In next few moments we took off…

Once I got inside, first thing that impressed me was the instrument panel- again a retro feeling with modern touch. But the next thing I noticed wasn’t that comfortable- the ignition switch is not in-line with the steering column, its projected outside. Instead of inserting the key perpendicular to the steering wheel and rotating it towards the windshield, I had to insert it vertically downwards and rotate it towards the right door. May be one will get used to it in sometime, but wasn’t convenient at first.
Indicator and headlight controls are interchanged, as in Ford or Skoda-again those habituated to conventional positioning will find it confusing for a while. Foot rest near the clutch pedal is a good idea (I remember seeing bus drivers who keep a wooden plank next to clutch pedal to rest their leg) because some drivers will have a habit of keeping their legs partially on the clutch, straining the engine.

The one I drove was a diesel Emotion variant, but the silence and smoothness was very good. For a slow start engine responded well. (with only 2 people inside) I was told we can’t hit the main road as the car doesn’t have registration, so had to settle with a small round. That was a disappointment-couldn’t cruise on RK Salai to get a better feeling of this car. The top speed is 160+ kmph, according to the representative, which if true, is not good enough. (Cars like Accent & Swift can match that easily). (I couldn’t find exact top speed in Fiat linea’s website-another website quoted it at 168kmph). The engine specifications are not impressive enough when compared to Honda City, though its slightly better than Ford Fiesta 1.4 TDCi. (Feb 7 update: Probably that's the reason Ford has slashed price of Fiesta 1.4 TDCi)

Linea boot space has an interesting feature-not sure if any other sedan has it-one can fold the rear row seats and open the passage to boot area-see pic- If one needs to carry a lengthy object it can be carried this way. (A criminal idea: When police are inspecting the driver and passenger seats, hide in boot, when they go back to check the boot, move out of the boot area into the cabin).

Passenger seats are a bit thin- this may result in compromised comfort during a long journey. Interiors are not of high quality. The wheel cap is quite deceiving and gives an alloy wheel like look from a distance.

Emotion variant has most of the gizmo features available in cars of its class. Blue & Me and MyCar are extra. Microsoft provided Blue&Me technology helps you sync your Bluetooth enabled mobile phone or laptop with cars audio system and play your songs, or issue voice commands to operate your phone. Mycar 1 system is Fiat’s name for various digital information the car can display (no. of days for next service, current Fuel economy, FM channel number etc)

I’ve a major doubt about Tata Motor’s ability to provide good after sales service. Already there’re too many tata cars (mainly commercial vehicles like Indicabs and Sumos) on roads and on any day their service centre will have more cars lined up for servicing than they can service in a day. With Nano hitting roads in a few months, will TATA be able to give enough attention to each of their customers and their vehicles, unless they substantially increase the number of service centres? What do you think?

Naming convention adopted by Fiat is a bit odd. Say in Maruti Swift I know if it is Lxi, Vxi or Zxi it is petrol and LDi and VDi are diesel. Both petrol and diesel variants of Linea have same names. If it is 1.4 I should understand that it is petrol and if it is 1.3 then it should be diesel, but the number 1.3 or 1.4 is not mentioned along with model name.

On road prices in Chennai: Linea Petrol range starts from 6.8 lakhs (Active) to 7.9 lakhs (Emotion Pack). Diesel range varies from 7.8 lakhs to 9.1 lakhs. IMHO those looking for a value-for-money typical city use petrol sedan while hoping for very good fuel economy can definitely consider Linea but for a diesel car at 9 lakhs one can give a consideration to Optra Magnum. I couldn’t drive Linea long enough to make a judgment, but I can confidently say one shouldn’t take Linea for granted without personally checking it and satisfying themselves. Hype about Linea and its looks will settle down after sometime-ensure if it meets your expectation w.r.t. drivability and other aspects.

A quick comparison between Honda City and Linea for the interested: City has Airbags and ABS as standard in all variants (Linea has it only in most expensive variant). City doesn’t have a Diesel variant so those looking for Diesel can rule out city. City is expensive by a few lakhs but houses better engine and interiors. City & Linea have their own unique looks and brand name. I feel a brand and image conscious customer would still prefer city.

Similar: * Scorpio mHawk Vls review * Maruti A-Star Review * Wayanad Trip in a Scorpio * Chennai-Mysore in Skoda Octavia* Incorrect positioning of number plates *


Mohan said...

Hi Shridhi, nice review as usual. I too went for a test drive of this car last week and got no time to write about it. Will write my review soon.

Fiat is known for its ruggedness and build quality. This model seem to be more focused on the style and appearance. Diesel variant is higly priced! it may be good to do a compare this car with Chevy Aveo..

Logesh TamilSelvan said...

good review shri..
the car looks cool.. i think this will also share the category with verna and fiesta
anyway FIAT should increase their sales and service outlets, only then this car will reach all centers..

Mridula said...

Shrinidhi, if you were to buy a car which one it would be?

Shrinidhi Hande said...


Thanks. Yes, you're right on ruggedness and build quality aspect. Diesel variant always costs few lakhs more than the petrol counterpart. At 9-10 lakhs one can consider Optra Magnum instead of Aveo. Waiting for your review.

Nice to see you back after long time. As you see Fiat has closed its sales and service outlets and have offered it in collaboration with TATA... I don't see them going back on that...


That depends purely on how much money you can lend me...

On a serious note, I haven't decided yet as I have no intention of buying one in near future. Still, to answer your question, I don't see a single all purpose vehicle so assuming I'd 15 lakhs to spend on cars, I'll probably buy a cheap no frills small car like alto for city use, and a top end Scorpio or Safari for weekend. But this decision is of course subject to change w.r.t time, budget, arrival of new models etc...

prashant said...


Shrinidhi Hande said...

Which variant of Fiesta you want to compare with Which variant of Linea? Fiesta is more of a driver's car and 1.6S is quite good. Ford has slashed prices of some Fiesta variants last week. In Petrol version I think Linea sounds better...

apvila said...

i m looking for linea emotion how it is for fuel economy and also in maintenance

Fiat Linea Price said...

Its reviews is enthusiastic.But people have not shown the good response for it.Fiat cars has some artistic cult which makes it a unique option for car buyers.Fiat Linea is a fine example of its expertise.