Fiat hasn’t had a great time in India recently, with its two-model line-up failing to bring buyers to its showrooms. Now, in a bid to recover its fortunes, the company will soon launch a facelifted Linea. It, however, won’t be phasing out the current car and will sell it alongside the new car. To make space for the facelift, the current car has been given a major price reduction and a new name. It’s now called the Linea Classic and is available with both petrol and diesel engines in two trims.
To go with the price cut, the diesel car is now powered by the detuned version of the 1.3-litre Multijet engine with mechanical changes that help save on costs. This is the same 75bhp state of tune as the Punto and Maruti Swift. To make up for the lack of power, the gearbox has been suitably modified so as to not hamper the car’s performance.
In real-world conditions, this has worked to an extent. In city traffic, the Fiat Linea Classic has enough grunt most of the time and it responds well when there is a need to pick up the pace. But a lack of power is apparent on more open roads. There is that slight hesitation at lower speeds that most small-capacity diesels have, but the sudden surge as the engine picks up speed is missing and it takes its time to respond too. Flat-out performance, however, is not too far off from the 89bhp Linea – the 75bhp Classic's 18.92sec 0-100kph time is just 1.11sec slower.
What hasn’t changed are the ride characteristics of the car. The stability at speed is great with only a little vertical movement. It stays flat and inspires confidence, and it works well even on broken roads. Almost everything that our roads serve up gets absorbed by the suspension with next to no noise filtering into the cabin. And the steering is light enough to make easy work of parking the car but at the same time, is communicative enough to let you know how the car is behaving. The comfortable back seat makes this an ideal chauffeur-driven car.
Prices start at Rs 6.96 lakh for the base diesel which sounds like a steal for a proper mid-sizer. However, you have to take into account that there is a lot of equipment missing, like steering mounted controls, rear power windows and airbags.