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, while the petrol Linea Classic is available in a single variant only, priced at Rs 6.18 lakh, all prices being ex-showroom, Kolkata. 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.
It is no hidden secret that the competition in the entry level compact sedan segment has been heating up for quite some time now. And with Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire and Honda Amaze driving the revenue northwards for their manufacturers and with so much of sales potential in this segment, every manufacturer wants of to have its presence here. However, the regular Linea which priced at Rs 7.46 lakh for the base petrol and Rs 8.52 lakh for the base diesel are in a different price point and positioned in a different segment. Therefore, Fiat came up with the smart idea to launch the more economical Linea Classic range to compete in this segment and claim its share of the pie.
Of course, the slashed prices mean that the Linea Classic variants will be powered by the 1.3-litre Multijet diesel powerplant now producing 76PS – identical to the Fiat Punto – as opposed to the 93PS on the regular Linea sedan. However, Fiat has kept the 1.4-litre petrol engine untouched and it produces 90PS.
We took the Fiat Linea Classic Plus 1.3-litre Multijet Diesel for a spin around town. Read on to find out how it fared.
Design & Engineering
The Fiat Linea Classic Plus 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 and 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, the Maruti Swift Dzire stands 3995mm long, 1695mm wide and 1555mm in height and the Honda Amaze measures 3990mm in length, 1680mm in width and 1505mm in width. So clearly, the Fiat Linea Classic is both longer and wider than all its rivals ensuring more cabin space.
In terms of appearance the Fiat Linea Classic Plus 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 Plus 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 Plus boasts of good overall built quality and is tough as a tank.
The suspension set up 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. NVH levels are well contained with very little clatter of the 1.3-litre Multijet diesel powertrain and external noise being filtered into the passenger cabin.
The top-of-the-line Linea Classic Plus that we tested came fitted with chorme radiator grille surround, body coloured bumpers, outside door handles and ORVMs and silver radiator grille, all of which are also found on the base regular Linea Active. So clearly in terms of exterior features there is nothing that separates Linea Classic Plus from the regular Linea Active barring the tyre profile (205/55 R16) which does impact ride quality.
However, the major component through which the price difference between the two cars is achieved is through the use of different turbochargers which are also responsible for the difference in power output of the two vehicles (76PS in the Classic as oppose to 93PS in the regular Linea).
The Fiat Linea Classic is available in five colour options – Oceanic Blue, Tuscan Wine, Minimal Grey, New Pearl White and Hip Hop Black.
Interiors & Comfort
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 (2603mm in comparison to Sail’s 2465mm, Dzire’s 2450mm and Amaze’s 2405mm) also 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 integrated music system with CD, MP3 and FM produces satisfactory music quality and clarity. The quality, fit and finish of the plastic used is much superior in comparison to that of Linea’s competitors like Sail and Swift Dzire. The 500 litre boot space is also bigger than the 370 litre offered in the Chevrolet Sail sedan or the 318 litre boot of the Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire. 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.
Performance & Handling
Doing duty under the hood of the Fiat Linea Classic Plus is a very familiar engine. This is the same 1.3-litre diesel powertrain which does duty in numerous cars in India, from various brands like Chevrolet, Tata Motors and Maruti Suzuki and is a tried and tested 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 and 75PS in the Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire. The Fiat Linea Classic Plus churns out 197Nm of peak torque at 1750 rpm, 12Nm less than the regular Linea.
The 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 offer commendable ride comfort and handling at high speeds and at the same time it can take bad roads very easily. 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.
The Fiat Linea Classic Plus 1.3-litre Multijet diesel boasts of an ARAI-ratified fuel efficiency of 19.5kmpl (in comparison Linea Active claims 20.4kmpl). Although we didn’t get an opportunity to do a proper mileage test, however, one can assume that 19.5kmpl 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 won’t be unreasonable.
In terms of safety, the Fiat Linea Classic Plus comes equipped with the all essential ABS which is an important safety feature for Indian roads, rear defogger, automatic door lock, central door locking, front and rear fog lamps and engine immobilizer. Surprisingly, even the regular Linea Active which is over Rs 70,000 dearer doesn’t get the ABS.
When Fiat first launched the Linea in India back in 2009, it surprised everyone bagging the car of the year award. It is very unfortunate, that merely four years down the line, nobody even mention its name in any discussion. In fact, it shocks me that how such 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 got to this point of oblivion. It seemed to be the classic case of an excellent product blended with bad marketing. Sadly, Fiat has not really bothered much with marketing the Linea aggressively in India and as a result a car which has huge potential is on the brink of extinction due to poor brand awareness and not-so-good aftersales network.
The Linea Classic range is competitively priced 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 Chevrolet Sail, Maruti Swift Dzire and Honda Amaze. At Rs 7, 74991 the Fiat Linea Classic Plus is an excellent buy and actually look and feel much costlier than the price tag it bears.
However, once you have decided in favour of the Fiat Linea, the pertinent question is that should you buy the Linea Classic Plus or rather dig deeper into your pockets, and buy the regular Linea Active for Rs 8, 52,655? Given the fact that the features and equipment level are almost identical in both the car, and with the Linea Classic Plus gaining upper hand with ABS, I would certainly feel that opting for the Linea Classic Plus would be a prudent choice. Yes, the Linea Active does put outs more power in comparison to the Linea Classic Plus, and also claims higher fuel efficiency, however, I don’t think these factors should be a deal breaker. Beside, you will be richer by over Rs 70,000. Think about it.