FIAT LINEA CLASSIC Likes Ride quality Powerful AC Drivability compared to the 93 PS VGT engine Build Quality remains the same Improved fit and finish on the interior ABS and EBD available on Classic Plus variant Huge 500 litre boot but with high loading lip Dislikes Skinny tyres looks one size too small for the Linea In consistent Fit & Finish on the exterior No airbags in any variant The base variant comes without manual central locking The seat material in the classic variant is of shoddy quality more like Rexene instead of art leather Tricky situation for FASS to handle volumes if the classic makes a good seller. The newest of launches from Fiat which is nothing but a strip down version of the existing Linea. Why launch this when the Active variant which was very much available? Reason, pricing it competitive for its target market. The classic has been launched as an affordable sedan at the price of premium hatchback. The classic gets two engine options 1.4 Fire and the 1.3 MJD recognized as the National engine as this engine powers Swift, Dzire, Ritz, Etriga, SX4, Sail UVA, Sail Sedan, Vista, Manza, Premier Rio apart from Fiat's own Linea and Punto with various states of tune. A glance at the Tech Specs Source - Fiat - India Website Price tag for the Linea Classic - Ex showroom Bangalore Since the Linea classic is positioned as a sedan at the price of a hatch. A comparison of the prices with its nearest competitor Punto. Punto 1.4 Vs Linea Classic 1.4 Punto 1.3 MJD Vs Linea Classic 1.3 MJD PS: Only comparison point is the price; the features list in the Punto simply beats the classic Exteriors The exteriors have undergone minimal changes and it's a good thing that Fiat left it at that. With the target pricing, the Linea classic loses all the chrome on the exterior barring the front grill surround on the Classic variant. The fog lamp bezel is now silver and blends well with the Chrome + Silver grill on the Classic Plus variant. The base variant gets the black grill with chrome surround and the black fog lamp Bezel combo. The door handles and mirrors are body colored in the classic plus variant and black in the base variant. The Classic Plus gets the wheel caps from the Punto Active and the base variant has none. The 14 inchers makes the Linea Classic look quite under tyred and is shod with 175/70 R14 Apollo Accelere tyres. The fit and finish is inconsistent on the exteriors with the window beadings not aligned. It is high time that Fiat had sorted this out as this car is being manufactured from early 2009 and yet they have to get it right on the alignment. Though the panel gaps are consistent, there is scope for further improvement to make it better. The existing colors New Pearl White, Tuscan Wine, Minimal Grey, Oceanic Blue and Hip Hop Black are offered on the classic too. With the target market, expect the Pear White and Hip Hop Black to move of the showroom floors. Classic Classic Plus The irregular fittings Wheel well - the dark colors would hide a bit of the emptiness whereas the white and minimal grey it looks a bit odd Interiors, Comfort and Features The classic gets a dual tone Black and beige interior. The combination looks decent for the asking price. The fit and finish of the interiors is surprisingly better. The glove box and ill famed key hole console fitments have improved quite a bit. The feature list is a giveaway that this car is equipped minimally and price that way too. The Classic Plus variant gets the integrated audio and 4 speakers which is shoddy in terms of sound quality. Both the Classic and Classic Variant gives a world of options for setting up the ICE as these two variants have none of the Blue and Me compatibility headaches. The all door power windows, manual AC, power steering with height adjust, manual mirror ORVMs adjustment, Arm rest for rear passengers are some of it that is retained with the classic. The base variant misses the manual central locking. Please refer to the feature list for the complete list of features available on two variants Interior View Classic Interior View Classic Plus Door Pads Classic Door Pads Classic Plus Classic Roof lamp Classic Plus roof lamp Door handle and the manual ORVMs adjustment lever Speedo Console Classic Speedo Console Classic Plus No seat belt height adjuster Lever to move the seat back and fro. This is different from the existing Linea and Punto The Classic Plus variant gets the rear defogger where as the base variant is not provided with the defogger. The rear defogger is a safety feature than a comfort feature which needs to be available across variants. Glove box and Key hole console Gear knob AC foot vents are absent on the classic Foot well Performance, Drive and Handling 1.4 FIRE The 1.4 Fire engine coupled with the base variant makes this the least sought after car. The drive from the 1.4 feels slightly better than the 1.4 NA Linea from the other variants that were on offer before the Tjet was relaunched. This mainly is due to the car going a few kilos lighters due to lesser features as well as a bit of cost cutting. The drive was very short and the numbers of this variant too is going to be quite low. 1.3 MJD Though the Linea classic has two engine options, the ones that move out of the showroom floor would be the 1.3 MJD. With the target market in mind, this 76 PS engine would suffice most of the users. Make no mistake that the engine is not a topper on the 0-100 sprints or the top speed records. However, the drivability from the 76 PS engine is quite commendable. The turbo lag is lesser than the 93 PS VGT engine for obvious reasons and it does match the Punto 76 PS on the drivability front. The additional weight has not hampered the performance much. The enthusiasts looking for a performance sedan at an affordable price needs to looks elsewhere. The acceleration till 100 kmph is quite decent and the 2nd gear drivability is better in the classic than the regular 93 PS Linea. The full turbo spool or the pull is evidently felt around 2200 rpm and the strong pull is offered till around 3000 rpm. Beyond 3000 rpm, the engine feels quite boomy and it does not make swift progress on the speeds front either. What the classic betters the regular Linea is the ride quality. The ride feels a lot more softer due to the 14 inchers couple with the higher sidewalls. Shodding the classic with the 185/70 R14 profile tyres will not only improve the ride quality, but will fill the wheel arches a bit better. However, the down side of having higher sidewalls is increased body roll, but it isn't alarming to make its occupants feel sick and make them puke. The brakes are reassuring as always with the Linea and the classic plus variant gets ABS - EBD as a safety feature. The fuel efficiency should match the target market's expectations as the 1.3 MJD is never known to be a gas guzzler unless pushed real hard. Overall Impression The classic makes a compelling case to the buyer hell bent on getting a sedan at the price of a premium hatch back. However, on a personal note I would have liked to see the classic plus diesel priced another 30k less or simply provide discounts to the extent of it to set the cat among the pigeons in the taxi segment. The downside of it, if Linea classic manages to sell good numbers, the rush at the service centers is only going to increase from already an overloaded state (there are exceptions, but the norm is overload). Another aspect of the classic is to keep the cost of running low to achieve success. High cost of service will definitely have a detrimental effect on the sales. The taxi segment will not take it kindly to a high cost of service. Fiat providing a cheap/affordable AMC could help gain confidence and keep the running costs low. Looking forward to the sales charts to see the effect of this launch from FIAT. PS: Karthik accompanied me to the Linea Classic test drive. He will pen down his observations too.