After a long five-year stint in India, the Fiat Linea finally gets a makeover. But can this upgrade help the Fiat Linea stay relevant in one of the most competitive segments in the market?
The mid-size sedan segment in India has heated up tremendously over the last year. We’ve just witnessed Honda make a huge comeback with the all-new City, while Hyundai has refreshed the successful Verna – and it would be a difficult task for any manufacturer to compete with these two products. Fiat’s sales, on the other hand, were suffering hugely in the segment, so it came as no surprise that they recently launched a refreshed version of this car. Although the new Fiat Linea has been around in the global market for almost a year now, this late entry into India is an attempt by the Italian carmaker to get back on track in the Indian market – where it’s struggled to grab significant market-share.
A couple of years ago, I had driven the Fiat Linea T-Jet up to the mountains on a road trip, and the car really impressed me. So, there was no doubt in my mind that the Fiat Linea would still be an impressive car to drive – since the engine and transmission setups remain exactly the same, and, of course, it’s got the same solid chassis. The main changes to the refreshed car come in the form of slight design modifications to the exterior, but the interior is where the most significant changes have occurred. The Fiat Linea is a very solidly built machine, and its overall design truly reflect its Italian style. The front bumper has gone under the knife, and now gets a better looking grille. The wheels are sportier, and the ground clearance has been raised by 5mm. Inside the cabin, you’ll notice the completely new dashboard that features a two-tone finish and a more premium feel. The AC vents are round, and, along with the in-built audio system, now has a glossy black finish. The instrument cluster has also been redesigned, and it can be customized according to the driver’s wishes – and there’s also a digital trip computer screen that displays additional information.
We got our hands on the Fiat Linea Multijet, which features the 1.3-liter 4-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine. This unit pumps out a healthy 92bhp, but the 209Nm of torque makes it more interesting. Unfortunately, the diesel engine does feel sluggish at low revs, and, from a standstill, it does take a while to pick up speed as there is some turbo lag – you only really feel the torque come into full effect after 2,000rpm. The 5-speed transmission works well, and the clutch is quite light in its operation. The highlight of this car, however, is its handling – which is stellar at all speeds. Another character trait of note, which continues on this refreshed model, is its high-speed stability. The hydraulic power steering works like a gem, with good feedback from the road – and the Fiat Linea is always very composed.
The Fiat Linea also comes with some new technology, such as automatic headlights, rain sensing wipers, and cruise control. Then there’s the Blue&Me system that allows the driver to use his or her voice to command the audio system, or to answer calls and receive texts from the phone via Bluetooth. It also gets added safety features, such as dual-stage front airbags, ABS with EBD, and rear parking sensors. If that isn’t enough, the diesel engine – thanks to its turbocharger – provides a fuel economy figure of around 20km/l, which is very impressive indeed.
So, now that the Fiat Linea finally has some additional firepower, Fiat will be hoping to rake in additional sales. However, they have some work to do to catch up with the other automakers who offer products in this segment. To achieve that goal, Fiat is already working hard to set up a new dealer network across India and make their cars more accessible. So, even though the Fiat Linea is a good car, with a very attractive price tag, the brand still has yet more work to do before it can assured of success in India.
- Fiat Linea
Engine: 1248cc / 4-cylinder / DOHC / Turbocharged
Transmission: 5-speed manual
POwer: 92bhp @ 4,000rpm
Torque: 209Nm @ 2000rpm
Price: Rs.9.72 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi)