New Fiat Linea, Grande Punto review, test drive
3rd Jan 2012 8:25 pm
The Linea and the Grande Punto have been upgraded with difficult-to-spot yet significant updates. But are these Fiats the better for it?
Fiat has made some of the greatest advances in small car design and technology over the years. It has designed some of the most attractive-looking hatches, it often sets the benchmark for ride and handling and its 1.3 Multijet diesel is so good, even the Japanese have bowed down to its genius. Yet, despite having all the essentials, Fiat hasn’t attained the level of success it should have enjoyed in India.
Still, Fiat has put its shoulder to the grindstone to update its very underrated Linea and Grande Punto. This year sees some significant updates for its flagship Linea and the Grande Punto. But look at the cars and you won’t be able to tell the difference instantly. What hasn’t changed is that they are still among the best-looking cars in their respective classes.
On the outside, the Linea Emotion now gets the handsome 16-inch turbine-blade alloy wheels from the T-jet, all Linea models now get automatic headlights and wipers (a first for the segment) and Fiat has improved the aircon unit as well. Mechanical changes include more ground clearance (Fiat claims a best-in-class 185mm) and revisions to the state of tune of the 92bhp diesel engine. Fiat’s diesel still feels a bit rattley at idle, however, and you still have to work the gearbox and accelerator to extract any performance from it. Interior quality has been given a perceptible lift and, on its raised suspension, the Linea still rides beautifully. The handling isn’t as sharp as when the car was originally launched here, but we think this softer character of the suspension suits it better overall.
Also brightened up from the inside with two-tone colours and nicer fit and finish is the Grande Punto. Like the Linea, ground clearance has been increased and the aircon system has been improved. The car drives beautifully, feeling very solid and one-piece. Ride quality is exceptional, agility is good and now even the base version gets the Linea’s slick-looking audio system as well as central locking. If only Fiat had a proper 16-valve 1.2-litre motor; this current 1172cc, eight-valve unit is simply too anaemic. Still, the 1.3 diesel is good enough to get the job done. And it’s still one of the most attractive-looking hatchbacks ever.
As expected, the updates have come at a price, and there is an increase of approximately Rs 50,000 on the price tag of every model in both cars’ ranges. The Grande Punto now starts at Rs 4.81 lakh and the Linea at Rs 6.84 lakh for their respective base Active petrol variants (both prices ex-showroom, Delhi).