The Linea Classic is an attempt by Fiat India to offer the classic styled Italian machine to the customer on a budget. The footfall at the Fiat showrooms hasn’t been much to write home about, what with both the Linea and Punto selling in small numbers. With a face-lifted version of the Linea on the horizon in the next few months, Fiat India decided to plonk in the more basic Punto engine with fixed geometry turbo in the sedan, took some features down and put a mouth watering price tag on it to lure in some customers.
For the 1.4 liter petrol FIRE engine, the Linea Classic is available only in one variant. However, the Classic range comprises of two sub variants for the 1.3 diesel engine version – Linea Classic and Linea Classic Plus. The Linea Classic forms the most basic variant, with the Plus variant boasting a whole bunch of features over and above the vanilla Classic. We had the 1.3 Multijet Linea Classic + variant with us for a test. So while we will talk about the handling and performance of only the Classic +, we will let you know about the features and price of the rest of the variants in the Classic range as well.
So how well has the Classic range turned out? Let’s find out!
Words: Amit Chhangani
Images: Hanoz Patel & Amit Chhangani
Visual and feature-related differences
On the outside, both Classic and Classic + variants have been stripped of the front fog lamps. The aluminium finish slots for the fog lamps, however, have been retained and do help in retaining the visual appeal at the front end. The liberal sprinkling of chrome which the previous Linea enjoyed has been taken away as well. The chrome on the doors, the window sills and the bumpers has been removed. The Classic version gets a black radiator grille while the Classic Plus gets a chrome unit.
The wheels on the Linea Classic and Claassic+ are sized at 14 inches shod with 70 profile tyres, as against the 15 inch 60 profile tyres on the Linea Active. There are no alloys on the Classic / Classic+ and the wheel well, especially at the rear looks rather empty. This is even more prominent on Classic variants painted in lighter colours. The width of the tyres for the more basic and less powerful Linea Classic and + variants has been reduced too. The car now features 175 section tyres as against the wider 195 rubber on the Active variant.
The Linea is an authentic Italian design, and the beauty of its well designed surfaces, neat lines and alluring curves is that even with so much ornamentation having been taken off, it still manages to look graceful from most angles. There are, however, a few angles, especially the rear three quarters (thanks to the smaller wheels and jacked up suspension) from where the car looks a little disproportionate. The Linea, however, even in its Classic avatar retains its classy charm, and manages to look like a pretty thing on wheels
On the inside, quite a few things have been taken off to make this longest sedan its class more affordable. The most basic Classic variant loses ABS, remote central locking for a key controlled operation, auto air conditioning, fabric upholstery (replaced by vinyl material), rear defogger and music system.
The Classic + range has ABS, but without EBD. Unlike the base Classic variant it retains remote central locking, fabric upholstery and rear defogger. The Classic + variant also retains the 4 speaker audio systems, but without Bluetooth connectivity. Both Classic and Classic+ variants have been stripped of the Blue & Me communication system.
Further features on the Classic + version over and above the Classic variant include an exact door open indicator in the instrument console, Body colored ORVMs and door handles, wheel covers for steel rims, remote boot-lid opener with a boot lamp, a more advance roof light with dimming effect and a passenger side vanity mirror. The interior for both Classic and Classic + variants is all-black, unlike the black and beige scheme for the more expensive Linea variants.
In terms of features, the Classic+ variant still manages to retain quite a few goodies. ABS, a factory fitted music system and central locking are really good features for a budget car, especially looking at its size and styling. The Classic variant, on the other hand feels a tad too stripped down, but then for those who are looking only at the sticker price, it brings further value to the table.
Next page for Engine, Ride and Handling>>>
Engine, ride & handling
Unlike the more expensive Linea models, the Classic range is powered by diesel engines with a fixed geometry turbo (petrol unit remains the same). This engine, which also powers the Grande Punto, produces 75bhp of peak power at 4000 rpm and 197 bhp of peak torque at 1750 rpm. Those figures are 17bhp down on power and 22Nm down on torque as compared with the Linea Active.
That reduction in power and torque is not too small to go unnoticed, and the Classic+ did feel slightly less punchy as compared to the VGT engine car. Having said that, the Linea Classic doesn’t feel sluggish or underpowered in any way. En route Lonavala, on the Expressway, the Linea Classic felt very reassuring in terms of acceleration and clocked a very good top speed. Even in its 75bhp version, the Classic has enough grunt to let you overtake the odd car ahead with confidence, and it wouldn’t disappoint you if you gave it the stick.
That 197NM of peak torque figure, kicking in at 1750 rpm, gives the Linea plenty of mid range punch to build speed reassuringly – even in the fast lane. Sure, it’s not as spunky as its more powerful VGT siblings, but for all practical purposes, the Linea Classic doesn’t leave you with much to complain about.
If anything, we found the engine noise a tad too much for comfort. While the 90bhp VGT Linea is also not the quietest cars around, the engine noise within the Classic’s cabin was even more pronounced. It may probably have to do something with reduced noise insulation, but the engine sound was most definitely perturbing.
Engine noise aside, we don’t have much to complain about the Classic’s down rated engine. The difference, however, is much more perceptible in terms of the car’s handling. The Linea has been known to be one of the deftest handlers in its segment. Its poise, as regards handling and ride has always hit the sweet spot for us. While the increment in ground clearance by jacking up the suspension a while back did take some magic away, the Linea was still an able handler.
With the downsized tyres on the Classic, however, the loss in poise is a bit more apparent. The Linea Classic still keeps its line very reassuringly in a straight line. However, when pushed aggressively around the bends, the thinner rubber tends to break traction a tad more early. The rock solid behind of the higher spec Linea tends to slither a bit on the Classic variant. While still very predictable and sure footed, one can feel that the Classic is a tad happier to wag its tail. It’s still much better than some other Korean and Japanese cars in its segment when it comes to displaying composure when driven at the hands of a spirited driver though.
Next page for visual representation of details and features>>>
Details and features represented via images and captions
60:40 Split rear folding seats are available in Classic as well as Classic + variants
Rear armrest on back seat – without the cupholders though
Back seat comes off completely – revealing the not-so-well finished padding beneath
Boot hinges were a tad tight on the test car, required some force to let the opened boot come down
Space saver spare. Notice the crack in the cardboard boot floor
Front seats are big and comfortable as ever. The base Classic version gets vinyl upholstery, unlike the fabric you see here on these seats
Steering wheel is nice to hold as ever. No audio controls or leather wrapping here though
Classic badging on the bootlid
Classic + variant gets the factory fitted audio system with four speakers. Base Classic version doesn’t
Even after blazing through the expressway and driving really hard on the Aamby valley roads, we managed 13.4 kmpl
Focused reading lights on the Classic + variant, Classic variant has more basic cabin lights
Storage compartment on dashboard could have done with a sturdier lid. The cover requires you to press it hard to stay in place
Vanity mirror for front passenger available only on the Classic + variant.
Next page for Conclusion>>>
Even with its great street presence and a good engine, the Linea has lost much ground in its segment. Its interior looks a tad dated when compared with the competition, and it needed a big USP to draw customers to the FIAT showroom. It is, thus, an appropriate move by Fiat to offer the Linea at a great price by taking off some not-so-important features.
The more basic Classic 1.4 FIRE petrol offers a fantastic deal to those looking to buy a full sized sedan for a bargain. It’s retailing for Rs 5.99 lakh ex-Delhi, which is a great price for a car this size. The feature list may be an issue with some people, but if it’s just the sticker price you’re looking at, the Linea Classic petrol is worth giving a thought.
At Rs 6.96 lakh and Rs 7.51 lakh for the Classic and Classic Plus variants, the diesel variants also offer good value. While the Classic variant will be looked at primarily by the tour operators, the Classic + has a great set of features and offers a good combo of value and features to the customer looking to buy it for personal use as well.
The Fiat brand name has taken some beating thanks to some unfortunate associations in the past, but the Italian carmaker seems committed to resurrecting itself in India. Fiat is disassociating itself from Tata for sales and service and has set up as many as 90 exclusive dealerships in India as we write this report. This number will go to 100 by the end of 2013.
Sure, the re-sale value and service is still a bit of an issue, but purely from a product and value standpoint, the Classic range of Linea does make a lot of sense to those looking for full sized sedan at a great price. Do give this one a thought if you’re buying in the segment!
Next page for tech specs and Image Gallery>>>
Tech specs: Linea 1.3 Multijet Classic +
|Max Power||75 bhp @ 4000 RPM|
|Max Torque||197 Nm @ 1750 RPM|
|Mileage (ARAI)||19.5 kmpl|
Fiat Linea Classic+ image gallery