The 2014 Fiat Linea was launched in India in February this year. The 2014 model brings to the sedan the first major cosmetic makeover, both inside and out, since its launch in January 2009. This is how the refreshed Linea fares in our review -
The Linea has won many a customer by way of its emotive design, though we find this lacking a bit in the new model. The large grille of the older Linea is replaced by a smaller twin-slat chrome grille.
Towards the rear, changes are a bit more significant as the registration plate enclosure is moved up from the bumper to the bootlid. The number plate enclosure gets a chrome garnish with “Linea” badging on it, while the engine spec (Multijet or T-Jet) is mentioned on the top-right side of the bootlid. The rear end of the Linea appears a bit more premium than the older model.
That being said, the front fascia of the older Linea had a charm to it, which is not seen on the refreshed model.
Fiat has made considerable changes to the interiors of the new Linea. Starting with the dashboard which is all new, the cabin of the refreshed Linea is a much nicer place to be in. However, the retro-styled instrument cluster has given way for this rather sedate looking cluster.
The center part of the dashboard is finished in a new beige fabric, which looks very upmarket and is soft-touch, while the plastics surrounding the music system and AC vents are finished in a contrasting piano-black color. The new music system sounds better compared to the previous Linea’s unit, while an AUX-in port is now included apart from USB connectivity.
Towards the rear, the Linea continues to retain features such as a rear AC vent and a sunblind. However, build quality of the plastics are still a step below the competition. Panel gaps can be tightened, especially those existing near the steering column. The larger picture here is that Fiat has made a positive step in sprucing up the interiors of the Linea, and this will go appreciated by customers.
The top-end Emotion trim of the Linea comes with features such as ABS, dual airbags, foglights, keyless entry with foldable key, 16-inch 205 section alloy wheels, leather upholstery, automatic headlights, rain sensing wipers, cruise control, automatic climate control, CD player with AUX-in, USB, Bluetooth and steering mounted controls.
Engine and Gearbox:
The Linea we drove was the top-end diesel model powered by the 1.3-liter four-cylinder Multijet engine outputting 93 PS at 4,000 rpm and 209 Nm of torque at 2,000 rpm and matched to a 5-speed gearbox.
A short drive is enough to tell you that the Linea diesel feels underpowered. Though on paper torque may be adequate, you never get a sense of the car accelerating with urgency. The relatively higher 1,268 kg kerb weight doesn’t work in favor of the car’s performance.
As a result, you find yourself driving in a relaxed fashion, often short shifting gears. The strong point of this engine lies in its low-speed ability and fuel efficiency. You can do 10 km/h in third without stalling this motor, while maintaining high triple digit speeds actually saw the car return better efficiency.
It’s a bit ironic to note that licensees of this engine have better tuned it for performance than the maker of the engine itself.
Ride and Handling:
The ride and handling department is perhaps an area where the Linea can be considered class leading. The ride quality feels plush, and you sometimes have a joyous feeling putting the Linea on bad/patchy roads knowing full well that the suspension will not transfer the terrain inside the cabin.
On the other hand, the dynamics of the Linea are well set up for enthusiastic driving. The sedan takes well to corners, and urges you to push harder. Aiding the driving dynamics of the Linea is its steering, which has a heavy feel to it at all speeds (though its a bit cumbersome in the city).
Safety and Brakes:
The top-end Linea diesel comes equipped with driver and passenger airbags, ABS and EBD. The brakes are very effective in shedding speed and the 205/55 tires have commendable grip.
The Linea diesel is claimed to deliver 20.4 km/l, and our tests saw the vehicle returning about 13 km/l.
The 2014 Linea range starts from INR 6.99 lakhs for the base petrol model and extends up to INR 9.72 lakhs for this top-end diesel (ex-Showroom, New Delhi).
The new Linea, no doubt, is an improvement over its predecessor. The improvement comes mainly inside the car where Fiat has upgraded materials and added features. Sadly though, the new Linea continues with the same mechanical package left behind by the older model, and in terms of power or refinement, it is a few steps below its competition.
This is a missed opportunity for Fiat who could have introduced a more powerful diesel engine, say the 1.6-liter Multijet diesel. While that may have driven up the price, it would have given the Linea something more to talk about.