With the world of cars going all compact around you, Fiat still manages to give you more ‘car' at those prices. Fiat recently updated the Fiat Linea and added more style to an already pretty looking package. But as the car gained more finesse, it came at a bigger price tag. Luckily Fiat will also be selling the previous generation car alongside the new one with the moniker ‘Classic' attached to it. We get to spend a few days with this proper sized C-segment saloon to understand the advantage it carries with its size.
The design of the Classic is very familiar as it happens to be the previous Linea. True to its Italian roots, the styling is bang on with the correct bits of everything everywhere. The front is graced by that detailed chrome grille, and that marks the end of chrome. The chrome strips on the sides and door handles, fog lamps and alloy wheels are gone. Yes we agree that those touches made the car look great from good, but no matter, the basic design is attractive enough to worry others in the segment. The body is so proportionate that this design will never get old. And the steel used for the body panels is thick and sturdy to last ages. And then it all ends at the smooth and serene rear.
The inside of the Classic is true to the name it carries. The styling is sober with a nice solid touch to all the switches and toggles. Cost cutting implies you do not get much in terms of kit here. You get a CD changer with four speakers, but no AUX/BlueTooth/USB. There are power windows on all four sides, but the driver can control only the front two from his end. Two glove boxes add a lot of convenience. The air conditioner is quiet effective and it really chills the cabin. The thing that we love most is the solid sturdy feel of the cabin. Everything is put together well and will last through ages. The seats are supportive but lack comfort. We believe long drives in these seats could get tiring. The steering is perfectly sized and weighed. However, a leather wrap would have been a welcome touch.
The Linea Classic is actually well equipped when you consider the list price of the car. Linea Classic's longest wheelbase in the segment implies that there is ample space in the entire cabin. The only issue is headroom at the rear for taller passengers, which is not adequate. The boot space is very considerate with 500 litre capacity.
Engine and transmission
The variant that we are driving has a 1.3 litre Multijet diesel engine that produces 75bhp of maximum power and a healthy 197Nm of peak torque at a low 1750rpm. The petrol variant on offer has a 1.4 litre Fire unit that pumps out 89bhp of power and 115Nm of peak torque. Both these engines are mated to a 5 speed manual transmission. The diesel variant is the pick here. It has a bagful of torque and combined with that quick shifting transmission, is a treat to drive. There is a slight lag before the turbo spools up, but then it has a lot of grunt to put many others in the segment to shame. Acceleration numbers are not scorching, but adequate to make the car exciting. We noted a good 160kmph on the highway, with still more in reserve.
The handling is perhaps the best bit about the Linea Classic. The steering is direct and tells you exactly what the front wheels are up to. Take it out for a spirited drive and you will come back with a fairly large smile plastered on your face. The ride quality is again very impressive. As it is a big sedan with 2603mm of wheelbase, and it feels big to drive as well. It stays planted to the tarmac on high speeds and ride quality evens out bumps for occupants. The suspension has been carefully adjusted for Indian roads and all you hear is a thud when you drive over a pothole. The clutch does get annoyingly jerky at low speeds, but it is a small price to pay for all the other advantages.
As an entire package, the Fiat Linea Classic is a big car for less money. It is the longest in the segment, so it does not compromise on space, and it comes equipped with that brilliant Multijet diesel engine. It drives well and the ride quality is very smooth. Our test car returned 15kmpl on our city commute with air conditioning working the whole time, and will surely return about 18kmpl on the highway. And you get a big boot to carry your stuff around. With all these advantages and a starting price of Rs 5.88 lakh, the big Italian still makes a bold statement for itself.