I have always had a soft spot for the Linea and rather selfishly was hoping that Fiat may actually never bring out a facelift version at all! You see the styling of the Linea seemed beautiful enough for my eyes to continue on and it did not need a facelift. However the market dictates otherwise and since Linea was around for a long time now and with new rivals coming by the dozen, an update had to be done. Fast.
Enter the 2014 Fiat Linea and here things that needed to be changed have been changed while the good things are kept intact. I am happy to say the Linea 2014 looks even better in its new glitzy avatar. The Linea being the longest already has presence and now with Fiat throwing in a generous sprinkling of chrome, it looks like it belongs to a higher segment altogether. Nothing in its class matches it for sheer presence.
The changes at the front involve a new front bumper and grille while things stay the same at the side save for new alloys and ORVM with turn indicators. The rear styling changes include a new Rear bumper and trunk lid.
Inside, the interior is superbly styled and dripping with wonderful details. No surprise since the car's Italian character shines through just about everywhere. the beautiful dials for example- you get the sense that style matters in everything.
The changes to the cabin are bigger when compared to the exterior with its new centre-console. The leather upholstery dual tone dashboard makes this one classy interior and again feels like it belongs to a higher class. The quality is great and the way the doors shut gives you a sense of solidity.
This is the T-Jet and Fiat has stuffed in a whole lot of features. There is ambient lighting, AC with Automatic Climate Control plus the Blue and Me tech featuring voice commands along with the 'usual' stuff like steering mounted audio controls, USB & Aux. Space is decent but considering its size the space at the rear could have been better. Headroom is a bit tight there as well.
Now to the driving bit and here it's just like meeting an old friend. I have always loved the T-Jet and I remember when it was launched, test driving it and then cajoling my father to buy it. The 112 bhp 1.4 T-Jet engine is an absolute gem and feels best with the 5-speed manual. An auto would just distance you from the driving experience. There is some lag at the start but once past that it just pulls so strongly that the acceleration is addictive.
The 207 Nm of torque is useful too and the shove past 1500-2000 rpm is great and it eggs you on. Driving the Linea T-Jet hard is fun and the 5-speed manual which is light and easy to use is an useful architect of your driving fun.
The steering is nice as well with a level of directness and feel not found in cars in its class. Now the Linea might turn into an SUV considering its raised height but despite that the handling is very good with enough grip available.
However special mention must go to the ride which is simple among the best in class. The suspension irons out the bad roads and does not let them filter through. If you drive the T-Jet gently then you will be rewarded with good FE figures. During our test we got about 10 kmpl.
The Linea T-Jet range starts at Rs 8.5 lakhs then goes till Rs 9 lakhs for the top-end model (ex-showroom Delhi) which means its excellent value considering what you get. Fiat has changed what was needed to and now is a serious threat to the other cars in its class. The new Fiat Linea looks great inside out but it's the driving experience that ultimately makes it special.