Fiat Linea 1.4 Petrol
Out Car of the Year gets a petrol heart but does it do the job?
Good diesels are what Fiat is all about but which Italian car would be complete if it didn’t have a rev-happy petrol in its line-up? Beside, to a certain percentage of customers, a petrol motor is the last word in refinement and diesels are just not worth the huge premium they come with. That’s where the Linea 1.4 petrol, which is nearly Rs 1.26 lakh cheaper than the diesel, comes in. But is the petrol motor equally talented? Does the huge having on the sticker price make sense?
Before flicking open the chunky and expensive-looking key fob, we study the specs of this twin-cam, 16—valve engine. A modest 89bhp at a peaky 6000rpm and 11.7kgm of torque at a high-ish 4500rpm in a car that weighs 1240kg implies that the engine will have to be worked hard.
However, first impressions are pretty good. Crank the engine and it settles down to a smooth idle. Slot the tall gear lever into first and you can feel the springy clutch, which has a long travel. As you ease off the clutch pedal and give it some throttle, the Linea noses ahead smartly. The short first gear gives an impression of a willing engine but as you shift gear, you feel a lack of urge from the Linea’s motor. Press the throttle halfway and the engine hesitates before picking up, revealing the gutless bottom end of this motor. You have to use a generous amount of throttle, and the tachometer needle needs to be around the 3000rpm mark before you feel any real acceleration.
Despite the very short gearing, the Linea is hard work in town and the gearbox is in constant use. This isn’t what you expect though, since the Linea feels like a big car and big cars feels best with torquey engines.
What the Linea lacks in low-end grunt, it makes up with an eager engine. It loves to be revved and this all-aluminium motor really starts to come on song past 4000rpm. The raspy engine note makes you fall in love with Italian motors and it’s pretty smooth too all the way to the 6500rpm rev limiter. Flat-out acceleration is modest, the result of a small engine in a big car and the 100kph benchmark comes up in a lazy 15.14 seconds. In-gear acceleration times aren’t impressive either.
On the highway, the engine’s strong top-end gives the Linea sufficient overtaking grunt but the short gearing means cruising is not so relaxed. This also has a knock-on effect on fuel consumption; the Linea did no better than 13.4kpl in our highway cycle. In the city, a figure of 9.4kpl puts it on par with the competition.
If the Linea’s engine let us a bit cold, then the rest of the car continued to dazzle us. The interior is superbly equipped and except for a few cheap-looking plastic bits it’s well finished too. The cabin is not as generous as the Linea’s exterior dimensions suggest but it’s large enough for most. The front seats’ base slopes downwards, so you lose out on thigh support. The rear bench is very generous and like a sofa but headroom is short.
Like with the diesel, we love the Linea’s solid build quality. The ride and handling is also outstanding and quite simply in a class of its own. Priced at Rs 8.10 lakh, the Linea petrol is outstanding value purely from the amount of car you get for this price. It’s big comfortable, has peerless road manners and comes packed with equipment. If only it had a stronger engine to match its size.