Talk to any venerable car enthusiast in the country and you will find most of them to be Fiat enthusiasts. Today, it is a different scenario altogether. The once famous brand in India has brought a new powerful variant in the form of Fiat Linea 125 TJet.
I have fond memories of the Fiat Linea as it was the best car I could drive back in the day when I was in my teens. My best friend’s father was a die hard Fiat enthusiast and had bought the Linea just after a month of its launch. I got to drive it a few times and it made a positive first impression on my ‘enthusiast’s mind’. Never got behind the wheel of a Linea in all these years. Past weekend, I got a chance to reprise some memories when the latest update of the Linea was at my disposal.
So what’s different on the new range-topping Linea? A new badge on the front fender and 125S on the rear showing its power. The rest is exactly the same as the now discontinued 114 PS Linea TJet. The Linea is a beautiful car in person and makes a positive first impression. Even the quality of paint feels good which was Magnesio Grey in my case.
Step inside the car and I were expecting a dashboard devoid of a touch screen. But there it was, a 5-inch touch screen display to my pleasant surprise. The touchscreen reminds me of the resistive touchscreen technology which was employed before iPhones came into existence. The touchscreen responsiveness is as good as the Moto Rokr cell phone that I used in my college days. For the ones who don’t know Rokr, it came with a stylus as the primary input method. The resistive touch screen just does not cut it in this day!
The leather and plastic quality were satisfactory. Ingress is easy and once you slot into the driver’s position, it feels comfortable. The space on the second row is sufficient and it comes with a drop down centre armrest which is a good addition. A major problem arises when you wish to keep your cell phone and wallet in the car. There is simply no place from where it can be accessed quickly. Same goes for bottle holders. With just one bottle holder in true sense, it becomes a hassle to carry any stuff along.
The Linea has always been a drivers car and 125 is no different. It gives a feeling of gratification after a long highway run along which includes a twisty section with sparse traffic. The engine is very responsive and it always provides power when needed. The gearbox was complimenting the engine and it does leave you satisfied.
Driving within the city limits of Mumbai comes with its fare share of struggles. One is that the extremely heavy clutch will mean you need a foot massage after the drive and the other is the massive drop in fuel efficiency. I’m not kidding when i say that for a 30-kilometer drive in bumper to bumper traffic which took 2 hours, the Linea 125 guzzled four liters of petrol. It’s hard to believe that Fiat can’t figure out the fuel efficiency part when companies all over are using Fiat engines and tuning it lot better!
Fiat Linea has been in the Indian market for better part of the last decade. The stylish Italian was launched in 2009 with much fanfare. Fiat betted on the Punto and Linea to change its fortunes in India. Seven years later, the model has been discontinued internationally with a successor Tipo already taking its place in Turkey. With rumours of Fiat withdrawing completely from the Indian market in the near future, looks like the Fiat Linea 125 will be another solid product being a futile effort at trying to restore that ‘good old charm’.