Test Drive - Fiat Linea - Day 3 - Electronics and Electricals
Ashwin Ram N P, Ashwin is a guy with a slightly unorthodox perception of everything. His struggle to choose a career path, between art and automotive engineering, has landed him in the field of auto journalism, where he has paved way for himself to practise both.
Today the focus shifts towards the unique Blue & Me system that's on the Linea and all of Fiat's new cars around the world. Let me first explain what the B&M really is-
This system is developed by Microsoft for application on Fiats. The basic characteristic of this system is its highly advanced voice recognition system through which one can answer his mobile calls, listen to sms' browse through a mobile phone's contact book using its display on the dashboard (display between the Speedo and RPM) all through inputs using the buttons provided on the steering wheel. He can also play music from mobile phone all when his hands are still on the steering wheel.
The B&M system can be used by either the buttons or simply through voice commands.
We first had to pair our Sony Ericsson K550i with the B&M (just like pairing your friends mobile). If you have got stuck while pairing, you need to scream "HELP" and the digital female detects you are in trouble and she comes to your rescue. She tells you the commands and you need to shout the appropriate one back to complete the pairing procedure.
Phone book contacts get transferred (only if you want it to) to the B&M system. Once complete, you can toggle through your contacts using the buttons on the steering wheel.
To dial we either say "Dial" or simply use the input buttons on the steering. Voice quality is superb and no drop in network or in the connections was experienced throughout the last few days. The 0-1 lady, also reads out your texts and it is fun to hear the Italian speak Hindi.
But never the less this feature makes driving simpler and safer on this car. This system can air songs from your mobile phone, and we were able to shuffle and play our favorite track. "Random" "Shuffle" and "Next" are the sensitive words. The system did not pick up any other commands.
The great thing about the B&M is its user friendliness. It is quick to recognize your voice. Whether you are an 8 year old or a middle-aged man, it needs no training. Your wish, is the Italian's command.
As a matter of fact, we felt the B&M was a more effective bluetooth module than the one in the Merc M-Class, which we drove a while back. The German disobeyed us, often never bothered to connect with us or understand us.
Apart from the Blue&Me, the USB port inside the glove box is a handy feature. Apart from its placement deep inside the dark dashboard, we loved all its other aspects. We plugged in a pen drive filled with MJ's hits and the music player was quick to bring him to life.
As said before, the music system on this variant is top notch. Stereo on the Emotion pack is from Blaupunkt. You can play CDs and MP3s. Sound quality is up-market, we didn't notice any disturbance in the reception of FM channels. Saving the FM channels was an easy task, you had to use the arrows for the system to detect the channel, and press the number (1,2..6) for a few seconds where you desire to save the channel.
The quality of sound through its speakers is crystal clear. We would have appreciated the addition of a wireless remote so that the passengers at the rear could morph into DJs .
The security system on the Emotion pack does its duty obediently. The command is given through the remote which is packaged neatly into the foldable key. Buttons to unlock, lock and boot opener is embedded, and there's no confusion there. The distance from which the remote works/locks is also large.
No audible beep or noise is heard when locking or unlocking the vehicle which is nice but what's better is its parking lights, which flash to tell you that your Linea is safe and the security system has taken over.
The car gets locked automatically if you are out of it with the keys in your pockets for five minutes from the exit time. The headlights are also controlled by the ECU; we can bet on this because when you turn off the engine and remove the keys, the headlights including the fog lamps, go off by themselves and when you return and start the engine again, the lights are off until you switch them on again.
Tomorrow we would skip to the most important part of this 5 part series - the engine and gearbox. So come back for that. Cya then!