2016 Fiat Linea 125 S review, test drive
14th Jul 2016 11:50 am
We find out if extra horsepower has made the Linea more desirable.
What is it?
Although the Linea has been around for a very long time, it has always remained on the sidelines of the market. This had more to do with the brand rather than the product itself. The current car is the same generation car as was launched back in 2009, but it has gone through various updates and facelifts through the years. This time round there’s a more powerful T-Jet engine and a handy touchscreen infotainment system. We wish though that Fiat had done more to differentiate the 125 S from the regular Linea, apart from just some badging at the rear and A-pillars. We can expect quite a few enthusiasts looking for some visual mods for their cars.
What is it like inside?
The Linea 125 S is very similar to its lesser-powered sibling on the inside, with the exception of a new touchscreen for the infotainment system, replete with navigation and Bluetooth connectivity.
The dashboard is attractive in design, with a large swath of soft-touch plastic sandwiched between hard, scratchy plastics. The touchscreen is quite tiny, though it is easy to use and features high-definition display. The only grouse is the positioning of the unit itself which is a bit low requiring you to take your gaze quite far off from the road.
One of the Linea’s biggest problems has not been rectified with the 125 S – the poor driver-seating position. The steering wheel juts out too much and the long-travel clutch and other pedals are located too far away, compelling you into a stretched out position. The front seats, however, are large and comfortable. The rear is not the most spacious in the segment, and headroom is particularly tight, and while the seat is generally comfortable, the seatback is a bit flat.
The equipment list is still strong, with navigation, automatic headlights, auto AC and rain-sensing wipers, to name a few. The remote-operable boot is a roomy 500 litres, though access to it is restricted by a narrow and high loading lip.
What is it like to drive?
The Linea 125 S is powered the same 1.4-litre turbo-petrol T-Jet engine as before, though its different state of tune results in an increased power rating of 125hp as compared to the earlier cars 114hp. The manner of delivery of this power, however, is the real highlight, the engine has enough low-range torque to allow you to potter about town comfortably and post the 2,000 rpm mark things really pick up robustly all the way up to 6500rpm, with power delivered in a linear and continuous fashion. Engine noise is well-contained at lower revs, and though you can hear it at higher revs, it is not unpleasant or unbearable.
The rev-happy engine should have been complemented with a better gearbox. Gear shifts aren’t sporty and feel rubbery.
The hydraulic steering has a nice, old-school feel to it, and it sends a good amount of feedback your way. However, it is heavier than some electrically operated systems and you can feel so around town. The car does not feel as composed as its predecessor at high speeds, but it corners with a nice heft. On the positive side, low-speed ride quality is among the best in its segment. The suspension feels solid and is absorbent and has the ability to swallow bumps and potholes. Add to this, the best-in-class ground clearance of 190mm, and you get a car very capable over bad roads.
Should I buy one?
The Linea was always a good sedan, with decent engines, a solid build quality and lots of Italian flair. Those qualities have carried over to the 125 S, and additionally, now there’s more power, resulting in an even better driving experience, and the oh-so-in-demand touchscreen. Add to this, a competitive price of Rs 10.46 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi). However, recommending one is a tricky affair, because all Fiat cars are ultimately let down by a harrowing ownership experience. The sales and after-sales service infrastructure for Fiat cars are not the best, which is a caveat to bear in mind.