It goes without saying that Fiat Linea is an aspirational buy. Under the 10 lakh category, there are few other cars that can match Fiat's responsiveness and dynamic refinement. However, Linea has never been able to rock sales chart thanks to partly company's shaky image and partly to its high price. So when existential crisis loomed large, Fiat came with a cut price version of the Linea. Named Linea Classic, this new affordable version of Linea has lost on to some equipment. Fortunately, it still looks the part and feels belonging to notch higher than its competitors. To know more about this Italian beauty, we decided to get behind the wheels and here’s how it fares overall on critical parameters of buying decision.
Design, Style & Interiors
Externally regular Linea and Linea Classic share the looks. The only way to tell apart these models is the absence of alloys and fog lights on Classic version. Satin grille upfront flanked by double - barrel headlamps is undeniably is inspiration from the Maserati. Alloys have now been replaced by 15” wheels covered by wheel covers. Profile is similar as before with creases flowing down from the front edge to the rear. Rear also follows similar pattern with large wraparound tail lamps adorning the butch bumper.
Inside the cabin, Linea fails to impress as the interiors have started showing their age. Black dashboard with subtle grey are par on the course for the segment though its unanimated layout that is real culprit. Additionally, Linea Classic has lost on many features to save on cost. For starters, there is no climate control available. Customers will get rotary controls and large screen infotainment system has also got replaced by ordinary music system. Further, Bluetooth and USB/Aux-in have also been removed from the feature list. As you can easily anticipate now, steering mounted controls have also gone and instrument cluster has also got some improvisation.
Thankfully, seats continue to remain spacious and comfortable. Large length of the car translates into roomy cabin and Linea has lot more space than other cars in its class. Same holds true for large boot which can even shift houses owing to its humongous 500 litres of trunk size.
Engine, Transmission & Driving Dynamics
Powered by similar 1.3-litre multi-jet diesel engine, Linea Classic puts out 75 PS of max power. Compared to standard Linea which makes 90 PS, Linea Classic comes with a dropped power of around 17 percent. Figure is worth consideration though Linea Classic just manages fine in the city. Part throttle responses are not too bad and though the lag is quite apparent, it doesn't bother much as long as you are in lower gear. On open stretch, Linea Classic shoots to fame quickly though past ton-up speed, the progress is laborious. We would be happy to have 90 PS VGT engine rather than this 75 PS motor. Gear box is still a major concern as the rubbery feel is very much apparent. Throws are not direct, requires additional effort and have to optimize for smooth functioning. Clutch pedal feel too is not progressive and jerky at times. Gear ratios too need a serious improvement as first- and second-gear are extremely short while third- and fourth-gear are really long with good cruising abilities.
It’s hard to fault Fiat on ride and handling. Linea Classic is no different as it perfects the balance between ride and handling. Bot slow- and high-speed ride is equally competent and though a bit firm suspension makes a thud every time you go over the pothole, it won't be intrusive beyond a certain point. Even more commendable is the fact that despite running on smaller 15” tyres, Linea never runs out on grip. Hydraulically powered steering wheel bristles with feedback and far ahead of the lifeless electronic units around. You can literally take Linea Classic by the scruff of the neck and throw it around the corners without any complaint. Brakes bite well too and thankfully, ABS remains intact on feature list.
With price range starting from Rs 6.46 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), Fiat offers Linea as a wonderful value for money proposition. The point of its aesthetic value couldn't be overemphasized. Possibly it is the most beautiful sedan around and will hold on to crown for a long time in future, especially considering the fact that trend of rise in sub-4m sedans. Further its driving dynamics make it best among the business. That said, the car feels a bit dated inside and power also seems to be a tad lower than rivals. Gearbox and clutch combo requires some improvisation and same applies to the features. All in all, we expect Linea Classic to perform well in the market and specifically, its appeal among the fleet operators will also rise with this new addition. And now Fiat working hard on to expand its dealerships,
Style & Substance 4/5 Ride & Handling 4/5
Interiors & Ergonomics 3/5 Safety & Equipment 4.5/5
Power-Plant &Transmission 3/5 Fuel Efficiency 3.5/5
Value for money 4/5