Not as flashy as the Verna, not as timeless as the Rapid, and not as futuristic as the City, yet the design of the Linea stands outit is clean, curvy and the facelift does a great job of giving the Linea a more premium look. There is a lot of chrome trim all around and the two-slat front grille looks striking. At the back, the number plate is now on the boot lid. The front and rear bumpers look fresh, as do the new alloy wheels. The car doesnt look vastly different from the sides thoughthe only change being ORVMs that have side-indicators on them.
Open and shut the doors of the Linea and you will find that it is built like a tank. The thud sound the doors produce are a testimony to its exceptional build quality. The Linea was and remains a solid European car. Step inside and you will see that Fiat has completely reworked the cabin. The colour schemeblack and beigeis a treat for the eyes. The in-cabin lighting is a warm orange glow and the new dials look smart. The digital trip computer provides a lot of information, including trip readings, distance-to-empty figure, average speed, average fuel-consumption and real-time fuel-efficiency. There is ample space all around, though some tall people sitting at the rear may find their head scraping the roof lining. The top-end variants get reverse parking sensor, dual airbags, Blue & Me technology, cruise control, auto headlamps, rain-sensing wipers (standard on all variants) and collapsible rear sun curtain. The boot space is a huge 500 litres.
This 1368-cc 16 valve T-Jet petrol engine churns out an impressive 112.4 bhp at a high 5,000 rpm. Further, the 207 Nm of torque generated at 2,200 rpm is among the highest in its class. In fact, so powerful is this motor that as soon as you step on the gas, the car shoots ahead. And it is not just limited to initial acceleration. When the engine reaches 2,000 rpm and the turbocharger kicks in, you get a second booster dose, and the car touches 100 kmph in about 10 seconds. What especially attracts attention is the T-Jet engines turbo whistlethe sound from the engine is music to ears. The steering is light but communicative, and the car tackles corners very well. The Linea drives well over potholed roads and its handling is solid. Fiat has increased the cars ground clearance to 190 mm and this means it doesnt scrape even the tallest speed-breakers our roads have. But if performance makes your heart flutter, a glance at real-time fuel-consumption figures on the trip computer sinks it. For example, at high three-figure speeds, fuel-consumption drops to single digits. While the overall fuel-consumption according to the company is 15.7 kmpl (ARAI-approved), we got close to 13 kmpl in a mix of city and highway driving. But then this car loves to be revved, and when you rev it, the figure drops under 10 kmpl.
When it was launched in 2009, the Linea got rave reviews. Why it did not sell in large numbers can be attributed to the fact that its service, managed by Tata, was relatively poor. Fiat has now gone independent and is setting up its own dealership and service network. From R7.45 lakh to R9.02 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), the car is well priced too. While the new Linea may sell more units than the old one, but will it lead its segment Unlikely.