Driving the Linea 125S
A lesser jet-lag?
I had reviewed the T jet 114 a couple of years back, and came out impressed. Overall package was competent but again, the car remains a sales dud. Blame it on poor marketing skills or the brand on the nose or relatively lack of confidence of the general car buying public in this car. Its 7 years old now, and ages gracefully, and competition on the other hand constantly introduces redesigns or product refreshments, which, sadly Fiat doesn't.
But, of late, Fiat India has been a bit alive out of nowhere. They refreshed their lineup with new variants, rejigging of engine options, coming to present age with ICE and launching the jeep and urban cross. But somewhere, their passenger car lineup still remains ignored, still, in its latest iteration, the Linea too got a model rejig this year.
The T jet active and dynamic is discontinued, and replaced by 1.4 FIRE active which gets the touchscreen unit as standard along with added alloy wheels. The emotion, however, remains in T jet guise and power is upped to 125 horses and torque to 208 nm. The diesel lineup remains the same, save for the touchscreen as standard inclusion.
Driving the 125
The car basically remains the same to drive as the 114 T jet, but the 11 extra horses do make their prescence felt. The car accelerates with much more eagerness, and 100 comes up in close to 10 seconds. We did many stop watch speedo acceleration runs and the same can be confirmed. There is sudden burst of torque when the turbo spools from 1800 rpm onwards and low end response is much, much improved. The mid range is more sharp and the car gathers pace effortlessly. The empty stretch at greater noida was the perfect opportunity to let it loose and its only once you cross 5000 rpm power begins a bit to taper off, the engine's small displacement being a factor to the same. Not only the engine pulls cleaner, the exhaust note is also one of the best around. Trust, it cannot be driven with light foot, and this does have an affect on FE, which can range from 8-10 in city and 13-15 on highway in realistic driving conditions.
While the engine remains the shining star, the same cannot be said about the gearbox, which continues to remain vague and rubbery, though the even numbered gears have a shorter throw shift. Reengineering the gearbox for smooth shifts remains the need of the hour.
The ride and handling remains the same, with fair amount of body roll due to the high perched stance but the wonderful HPS makes for more than it. Its just brilliant around and gives you a feeling of security and connectivity and grip on the road like no other car of its segment can.
The price is a wee bit north of 10 ex showroom, pretty competitive for the equipment on offer. Potential high costing parts remain the pads, which cost 12k for front and rear. Brakes, as usual, remain stupendous, with surefooted straightline stopping, aided by all wheel discs.
The touchscreen brings the car upto age, with USB, aux-in, BT and SD card, and touch sensitivity is pretty decent, but resolution remains small. SQ remains average, from what you expect in a factory audio. High volumes crackle the speakers, which beg for an upgrade.
Overall I quite liked the car, but again, all the efforts will go unnoticed, as the sales figures show. Its one of the lowest selling nameplates in the country and more than the product, its all on whats written on the nose that counts. Its aged gracefully, and it needs a replacement, an all new car together. How many people will buy, again, is the question which only FCA India can answer, and with not much seriousness shown towards marketing or any sort of promotional activities, it will go unnoticed.
Its a great product, in the hands of a wrong parent.
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