With an engine upgrade, the Linea T-Jet gets its running shoes on. Ouseph Chacko feels the car is now fun to drive
Fiat has boosted the Linea's power to 112bhp by adding a turbocharger to the 1.4-litre engine. The Linea T-Jet has a class-leading 21.1kgm of torque. It's the first turbo-petrol in this segment but, the T-Jet uses the indirect-injection engine, which is a bit old-school. Still, it's like a breath of fresh air and just what the doctor ordered.
The T-Jet for India makes 8bhp less than the one sold abroad. Fiat says this is to compensate for Indian fuel quality and strike a balance between adequate power and reasonable fuel efficiency.
Though 112bhp in the T-Jet may not sound like much, the spring in the T-Jet's step makes it really nice to drive. The key is the extra torque (9.4kgm more than the non-turbo 1.4 petrol makes) which peaks at a high 2200rpm, when the turbo is on full song, but its effects can be felt as early as 2000rpm. This abundance of torque and strong mid-range performance are what separate this motor from normally aspirated engines. This motor pushes out an impressive 21.1kgm and this is reflected in the performance figures.
In terms of flat-out performance, the Linea's 0-100kph figure of 11.05sec puts it in Honda City and Ford Fiesta S league but where it blows its rivals away is with its punchy mid-range that is clearly evident in the in-gear acceleration times.
This motor has a 6400rpm redline but it's best to upshift early because past 5500rpm, the engine gets quite vocal and sounds strained. There's also noticeable turbo-lag that can catch you out if you are in the wrong gear in city traffic and you have to work the gearbox to keep the engine on the boil.
Unlike the non-turbo version, the T-Jet delivers stronger power and torque to allow a wider gear ratio. This is well-suited for highway cruising as the T-Jet eats up the miles effortlessly.
Fuel efficiency hasn't taken take too much of a hit. The extra torque and well-chosen gear ratios require the engine to work less for lugging around the 1,230kg car. We got an impressive 10.3kpl in the city and 15.4kpl on the highway.
The Linea T-Jet gets more than just an engine upgrade. Fiat has worked on a number of areas to improve its piece de resistance, and the result is a well-rounded car. With the T-Jet you get bigger 16-inch wheels, wider tyres, disc brakes on all four wheels and ground clearance is up too (mostly due to the bigger wheels).
Fiat hasn't touched what we've always loved best about the Linea — its ride and handling. That brilliantly balanced steering, good body control and unbelievable grip levels can now be exploited to the fullest thanks to more power. The ride, if anything, feels even better. It is absorbent, well-damped and feels very refined. In fact, the Linea behaves better than cars many times its Rs. 8.99-lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) price tag.
Seat comfort is the same as before, which means space is generous except for rear headroom, which still remains in short supply. However, the cabin's rough and hard-looking plastics have been replaced by softer textures and smoothened-out edges.
Equipment levels continue to be the best in class and no other competitor is as loaded as the Linea. Leather seats are now added to the long list of kit that includes Bluetooth connectivity, airbags. ABS, power mirrors, rear air-con vents, climate control, remote locking and steering-mounted audio controls.
But the biggest improvement Fiat has made is to the aircon. A new compressor, a bigger fan and a new shroud in the engine bay (to direct more air to the condenser) have successfully resolved the Linea's cabin cooling issues.
Along with the better grip from the new bigger wheels, the squared-off exhaust tips and the big T-Jet badge on the rear and you have a car that Fiat should've brought out in the first place.
The T-Jet engine compliments the stunning styling and capable chassis. The T-Jet offers effortless performance, unmatched cruising ability and ride and handling continues to be top-notch. The cabin is improved, and there are generous amounts of equipment too. The diesel Multijet Linea is cheaper than the T-Jet but this one is the more fun to drive.