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201430 Jan

Linea Classic versus Sail

Italian auto manufacturer Fiat has launched the Linea Classic in September 2013. The Linea Classic is a more economically priced version of the regular Linea sedan. The new, more affordable diesel Linea Classic is available in two trim levels – Classic and Classic Plus – priced at Rs 7.18 lakh and Rs 7.74 lakh respectively (all prices being ex-showroom, Kolkata), while the petrol Linea Classic is available in a single variant only. That makes the new Fiat Linea Classic over Rs 1 lakh cheaper than the base Active petrol and diesel variants of the regular Linea sedan.


Going up against the Fiat Linea Classic is General Motor’s Chevrolet Sail sedan. The Chevrolet Sail sedan was launched in the Indian market in February 2013, soon after the launch of the Chevrolet Sail U-VA hatchback and is based on the same platform. The Chevrolet Sail has replaced the Aveo sedan and has been developed in collaboration with General Motor’s Chinese counterpart – Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC).


Presently, the Chevrolet Sail is being sold in 16 countries around the world and is particularly a hit in China. General Motors is offering the Chevrolet Sail sedan in a total of eight variants – four petrol and four diesel – PS, LS, LS ABS and LT ABS with the base diesel trim priced at Rs 6.58 lakh.   


We got behind the wheel of these two machines to discover which one is the better choice for you. Read on to find out our verdict.


Design and Engineering


Linea Classic versus Sail


The Fiat Linea Classic shares its platform with the Grande Punto but that is where the similarity ends between the two. That’s because unlike the Swift and Swift Dzire or the Honda Brio and Amaze, the Linea isn’t a Grande Punto with a boot. It’s a completely separate car designed ground up and bears an identity of its own. The Linea is a big car measuring 4,560mm in length, 1,730mm in width and stands 1,487mm high. In comparison, the Chevrolet Sail sedan is 4,249 long, 1,690 wide and 1,503mm in height. So clearly, the Fiat Linea Classic is both longer and wider than the Chevrolet Sail. The longer wheelbase (2603mm in comparison to Sail’s 2465mm) also translates into a more spacious cabin


In terms of appearance the Fiat Linea Classic looks quite elegant and stately. From the front the Linea sports a nice two-part grille with the Fiat logo sitting pretty in the centre of the upper part. The good looking headlamps add a quotient of style at the front end. The Fiat Linea Classic also has a nice sweeping roofline and clean character line running along the side beginning just above the front fender and end right at the tail. Power is delivered through a front-wheel-drive layout. The Fiat Linea Classic boasts of good overall build quality and is tough as a tank.


In comparison, the Chevrolet Sail sedan pretty much shares a great deal of its styling and also its mechanicals with its Chevrolet U-VA hatchback sibling. The two-part grille with the Chevrolet bow tie sitting pretty in the centre looks good, and gives this car real character. The design runs well along the sides, culminating in a sober and elegant fashion at the rear. A crease flows from just above the front wheel arch to the rear tail lamps, and lends some more character to the Sail sedan. Rear styling is boring with a plain Jane boot lid and rear bumper which is devoid of any sort of style quotient. Overall, the Chevrolet Sail isn’t really a head turner.  


The suspension set up of the Fiat Linea Classic is superbly tuned making the Linea a joy to drive. The Fiat Linea has helical coil springs, dampers and stabilizer bar with independent wheel at the front and torsion beam at the rear. Ventilated discs on the front with drums at the rear ensure confidence inspiring braking. The Fiat Linea Active rides on 175/70 R14 tyres with 14-inch steel wheels.


The Chevrolet Sail sedan is built around a monocoque chassis, and rides on McPherson struts at the front with a simple torsion beam rear axle. Discs at the front and drums at the rear to a neat job in bringing the Sail to a halt. The Chevrolet Sail rides on similar profile tyres and wheels as the Fiat Linea Classic.


NVH levels are better contained in the Fiat Linea Classic in comparison to the Chevrolet Sail with very little clatter of the 1.3-litre Multijet diesel powertrain and external noise being filtered into the passenger cabin.


Interior and Comfort


Fiat Linea Classic interior


Step inside the Fiat Linea Classic Plus and you will be welcomed into a vibrant and plush looking passenger cabin done up in black and beige colour scheme. The longer wheelbase measuring 2603mm in comparison to Sail’s 2465mm translates into more spacious cabin in comparison to its competitors. Front seat are comfortable, well-padded and provide good all round support. Front visibility is good as well. Rear bench is wide with decent under-thigh support and can accommodate three individuals.


The quality, fit and finish of the plastic used is much superior in comparison to that of Chevrolet Sail and even the Maruti Swift Dzire. The 500 litre boot space is also bigger than the 370 litre offered in the Chevrolet Sail sedan.


The AC dials and all others controls on the central console are easy to operate and the instrument cluster looks chick in the black with orange light. Similar to the regular Linea Active, the Classic Plus also comes with a CD, MP3, FM integrated music system which is decent in quality.


The Fiat Linea Classic Plus that we drove came equipped with, power steering, power windows, rear defogger, tilt steering, and central locking; features which are identical to the regular Linea Active sedan. 


Chevrolet Sail


If you found the exterior of the Chevrolet Sail ordinary, you are in for more disappointment once you step inside. You will be greeted with the same beige interiors as you will find in its stable mate - the Chevrolet U-VA hatchback. The quality and style of the Chevrolet Sail is anything but impressive. Hard plastics are a clear indication to General Motors’ ‘built to a price’ approach, and the surfaces are rough to the touch and lack any form of design flair. And that’s not all. In order to further cut down costs, all four power window switches have been grouped together just ahead of the gear lever, which aren’t very ergonomically friendly.


The front seats in the Chevrolet Sail sedan aren’t the most comfortable because they narrow towards the top. This means that you would tend to feel uncomfortable around the shoulder blades after a long haul behind the wheel. The rear seat is merely a single flat bench and doesn’t offer much comfort either, although three people can sit abreast in relative comfort due to a low transmission tunnel. The reclined backrest ensures that the rear passengers will miss out on most of the front view.


However, the good part is that the Chevrolet Sail sedan, similar to the Sail hatch has storage space under the rear seat. By relocating the fuel tank to under the floor of the car, the engineers at General Motors have managed to scoop out some storage space under the rear seat which can accommodate medium sized duffle bags. This makes up for the smaller boot somewhat.


The integrated music system with CD, MP3 and FM fitted in the Fiat Linea Classic is definitely better in quality and clarity when compared to the one that comes with the Chevrolet Sail.


Performance and Handling


Fiat Linea Classic


Doing duty under the hood of both the Fiat Linea Classic Plus and the Chevrolet Sail is a very familiar engine. This is the same 1.3-litre diesel powertrain which also does duty in numerous cars in India, from various brands like Tata Motors, Maruti Suzuki, Fiat and Chevrolet and is a tried and tested diesel motor. The 1248cc Multijet diesel engine was jointly developed by GM and Fiat. However, it is tuned differently depending on the vehicle it powers.


One noticeable change is under the hood with the 1.3-litre Multijet diesel now producing 76PS – identical to the Fiat Punto – as opposed to the 93PS on the regular Linea In comparison, the same motor produces 78PS in the Chevrolet Sail sedan. The Fiat Linea Classic Plus churns out 197Nm of peak torque at 1750 rpm, 8Nm less than the Chevrolet Sail.    


The Fiat Linea Classic Plus’ steering felt very light at slow speed and weighed up as we reached higher speed limits. The engine is very responsive. Acceleration was very impressive with linear power delivery and excellent torque available throughout rev range with good in-gear experience.


What also makes the Fiat Linea Classic Plus a pleasure to drive is the suspension setup. The suspension is on the stiffer side and offers commendable ride comfort and handling at high speeds and at the same time it can take bad roads very easily. The low speed ride on broken surfaces does feel stiif, and the Linea rides much better with a full complement of passengers.


At low speeds, the stiffness is felt when going over bumps and uneven surfaces when slight jitters are sent through to the cabin but nothing unnerving. Cornering even at mid-range speed limit prove effortless with body-roll being well contained. The gearbox has a long throw but the shift action is relatively light and smooth too.




In comparison, the Chevrolet Sail offers ride comfort and the engineers deserve a pat on the back in this respect. The Sail rides very well, even on broken surfaces, and body control is reasonably good too. However, increase the speed a bit and one would notice the Sail putting up resistance. One good thing about the Sail is to handle rough roads really well, which is does with ease.  


The diesel Sail boasts of impressive drivability though, with minimal lag and a strong surge of torque in the mid-range, which makes light work of traffic. The gear ratios are well thought out in this car and the gears slots in smoothly with short, positive throws.


Fuel Efficiency




The Fiat Linea Classic Plus 1.3-litre Multijet diesel boasts of an ARAI-ratified fuel efficiency of 19.5kmpl, while Chevrolet claims that the diesel Sail returns 22.1 kmpl. Although we didn’t get an opportunity to do a proper mileage test, however, one can assume that 19.5kmpl for the Fiat Linea Classic Plus and 22.1 kmpl for the Chevrolet Sail will be difficult to attain in real world conditions, especially given the traffic that plagues most cities of India. However, the 1.3-litre Multijet has earned itself a reputation of being frugal and expecting about 12kmpl within the city and around 16.5kmpl which cruising on the highway for the Fiat Linea Classic Plus won’t be unreasonable.


Our interaction with Chevrolet Sail diesel owners has hinted towards the Sail delivering upto 13.5kmpl in city driving conditions and around 18 kmpl on the highway. So in comparison, the Chevrolet Sail diesel is slightly more frugal than the Fiat Linea Classic.




Fiat Linea Classic and Chevrolet Sail rear


In terms of safety, the Fiat Linea Classic Plus comes equipped with ABS which is considered an important safety feature for Indian roads, rear defogger, automatic door lock, central door locking, front and rear fog lamps and engine immobilizer. 


The Chevrolet Sail comes fitted with a driver side airbag as standard across the Sail model range barring the base PS trim. The mid-range Sail LS variant has the option of ABS+EBD as well, but a front passenger airbag is only available with the top-of-the-line Chevrolet Sail LT variant.






The Fiat Linea Classic and the Chevrolet Sail are both very important products for their respective companies. And they are up against another two very well performing competitors namely the Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire and Honda Amaze which has been contributing significantly to their company’s revenue. 


The Fiat Linea Classic is a wonderful car which boasts of brilliant drivability and handling, with plush and spacious interiors, big boot, decent mileage and overall elegant and stately appearance. However, Fiat has not really bothered much with marketing the Linea aggressively in India and as a result of which a car which has huge potential is on the brink of extinction due to poor brand awareness and not-so-good aftersales network.


On the other hand, the Chevrolet Sail diesel also has the potential to sell well. Although, there isn’t one particular aspect of the cat that is really outstanding, however, as a package, it could prove to a good value proposition. It has a spacious cabin, good ride quality and drivability and decent fuel efficiency too.


The fully loaded Chevrolet Sail LT ABS is priced at Rs 7, 86,998. In comparison the top-of-the-line the Fiat Linea Classic Plus comes for Rs 7, 74,991 and actually looks and feels much costlier than the price tag it bears, although it does not offer two aribags, which the Sail does. I feel that everything taken into consideration the Fiat Linea Classic is a better buy and with the aid of an aggressive marketing campaign, improved brand awareness and better aftersales service, the Linea Classic could well give tough competition to the segment leaders like the Maruti Swift Dzire and Honda Amaze. Don't forget that at the end of the day you are getting a full-sized car for the price of a compact sedan, which makes the Linea Classic brilliant value in the scheme of things. 


Fiat Linea Classic and Chevrolet Sail



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