Non-Linea thinking

Apr 27 2014, 08:46 IST
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It has great products, but for Fiat to get its act together, it needs to reconsider its approach It has great products, but for Fiat to get its act together, it needs to reconsider its approach
SummaryIt has great products, but for Fiat to get its act together, it needs to reconsider its approach

scraping the roof lining. The kit is exhaustive and and top-end variant (Emotion) gets reverse parking sensor, dual airbags, Bluetooth, cruise control, auto headlamps and rain-sensing wipers (standard on all variants) and collapsible rear curtain. Some things missing are rear-parking camera and electric-operated ORVMs. The boot space is a huge 500 litres.

Drive

Powering it are the 114 PS, 1.4-litre T-Jet turbo petrol, and the 93 PS, 1.3-litre MultiJet diesel engines (the MultiJet produces 209Nm of torque). We extensively drove the diesel-powered Linea and found that though the engine is smooth, it remains sluggish until about 2,000 rpm. For example, at engine speeds under 2,000 rpm, if you are climbing uphill and four people are sitting in the car, more often than not you have to downshift to maintain a decent speed. But as soon as the engine reaches 2,000 rpm, the turbocharger kicks in and it effortlessly moves the car ahead. Although the NVH levels in the cabin are low, the diesel motor gets noisy at higher.

The Linea drives well over potholed roads and its handling is praiseworthy. Fiat has increased the carís ground clearance to 190 mm and this means it doesnít scrape even the tallest speed-breakers our roads unfortunately have. It remains fun to drive around the corners and wide tyres (205/55R16) ensure plenty of grip. The diesel is frugalóthe company-claimed fuel-efficiency figure is 20.4 kmpl. The petrol returns 15.7 kmpl.

Verdict

When it was launched in 2009, the Linea got some rave reviews. Why it didnít 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 after-sales service network. And that, in a way, makes the company cars more desirable. The new Linea may sell more units than the old Linea, but will it lead its segment? Unlikely. One of the reasons is that the diesel engine, although a gem, is decidedly underpowered as compared to the competition, and it is the diesel that is the current favourite in its segmentóit is high time the Linea gets the 1.6-litre diesel motor. Moreover, the 1.3-litre MultiJet is better suited for lighter cars such as the Swift siblings, not the Linea, not in todayís times when the competition gets maximum power figures of 128 PS (Verna).

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