Test Drive – Fiat Linea – Day 2 – Cabin and Comfort
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Today is our second day with the Linea and we are going to focus on provisions on board.
The seats are beige, they do tend to get soiled, if you a whiner. To us, beige connotes class.
The seats are firm, and only so in the right places. The base of the seat is rough, so during cornering, you don’t slide around. The rough portion ensures you are planted to the seat. The outer portion of the seat’s base is soft, it is made using a velvet-like material and so are the side bolsters.
Cushioning is near about perfect, we could have liked it a bit fluffier. The seat height adjusters are long, easy to use and made using high quality plastic. This makes up for the only down side – It needs to be manually operated.
The headrests offer maximum support to the head/neck. The vertical axis of the head support is almost in line with that of the lumbar support. This makes for comfortable seating. In many cars, they incline forward is high, creating a skull-prodding effect. You don’t get other fancy lumbar settings to pamper different portions of your back, but the existing settings can be tuned to your needs.
The rear seats are wide, good back and thigh support. The backrest is inclined at just the right angle, a treat on long drives. The hitch here is the exhaust tunnel which poses a threat to the middle passenger’s leg room. Only the Civic in this segment does away with it, and next generation models in this segment need to nix it for good.
The door openers are chromed; they also operate the door lock (enhanced functionality)
Start the car, and the air conditioning is in manual mode. After a while, we either slip it into auto pilot or we continue to give inputs. The big vents throw cool air into the cabin without much noise. A neat digital display mid dash aids things by displaying the set temperature, blower speed, and mode- whether you are in Manual mode, semi-automatic mode, fully automatic mode.
The climate control in the Linea sets the blower speed automatically in the semi-automatic mode and fully automatic mode. You control air circulation quantity adjusting the controls.
The temperature control dial operates smoothly just like any of its neighbouring controls. The unique thing here is all the buttons are flat and in line with the dashboard and the orange backlight is employed on all the Linea’s buttons which makes for easy operation in the dark.
The aircon worked brilliantly both in manual and auto mode. On many occasions, we had to turn it off, thanks to the ultra-quick cooling. Something only that the Linea has in its segment is the rear adjustable A.C vent mounted in the between the front two seats. Due to its presence, the temperature balance is not affected, and you feel the A.C working right from the time when you’ve switch it on, wherever you are seated.
A sense of toughness is felt while using these control stalks on the steering column. They are light and easy to operate, but on the other hand they don’t feel fragile.
The height-adjustable steering is wrapped in a coat of rich-feel leather. It feels adequate and chunky with a big Fiat logo on the centre screaming Fiat’s new face. Buttons for the Stereo, Information display and Blue and Me are neatly planted on the steering.
We’re not able to understand why Fiat’s given a height adjustable option since the downward motion is very restricted. It occurs to us as an afterthought. Fiat must look into this in their next generation model.
The vanity mirror is illuminated. At night they come in handy especially if you have a feminine passenger who is addicted to her mirror image.
The horn button is spread out on the steering wheel – easy to use even while cornering. A silver lining runs around the circumference of the two main dials (Tacho, Speedo). The needle is in red and the background in a mix for silver and white is classy.
Between the main dials, space is taken up by the MID which informs the driver various information ie the trip, live mileage, average mileage, distance the car can go with the fuel remaining in the tank etc. We found this very informative; we’re delighted to see such a gadget on a car which would otherwise feature in segments higher up.
The large ignition cylinder isn’t perpendicular to the door, but nearly faces the driver which is ergonomic. This came in handy while we returned from dinner last night.
Another set of buttons is placed on the right side of the driver has settings for the main menu and front and rear fog lamps also for the head light level adjuster. The Linea has a smart feature – If you pull out the key with the fog lamps on, the ECU switches it off for you. This is a power saving/point winning feature.
Buttons around the cabin are sturdy; Fiat hasn’t compromised on quality. The dash has a strip of aluminium running along its length; it looks stylish and matches with the aluminium coated door handles.
Adjacent to the roof lights in the front, two orange lights switch on when the headlights are on. These LEDs give a beautiful ambience to the Linea’s cabin. Roof lamps are also available on the rear.
Rear windshield has a curtain installed which slide up and lock when you don’t need them. The last time we saw this on a factory car was on the Skoda Superb. They keep the cabin insulated on a hot day.
The Linea emotion pack comes with dual airbags. Self explanatory.
We cracked the boot code today – yesterday, we were not able to fold the upper half of the rear seat, and today, thanks to the journalists who used it before us, the flap managed to get struck inside the rear parcel tray which releases the seat’s lock. We used everything from pen knives to screw drives to retrieve it and finally got a flat floor behind the front seats.
We come back to the Linea day after tomorrow as the Ford Ikon in our fleet feels neglected.