Launchpad Fiat is regaining lost momentum with the Linea Classic that is built to offer excellent ride and handling. Ameya Dandekar has the details

Fiat has not had a good run in India recently. With no significant launches in the last three years and

with its two-car line-up, the carmaker couldn’t excite consumers. But now, with the Linea Classic, the manufacturer is trying to play the value card and regain lost momentum.

The Linea Classic diesel is powered by the familiar 1.3-litre Multijet diesel motor. But instead of 90bhp, the Classic comes in a detuned 75bhp form. The lower-powered 75bhp motor gets an FGT (Fixed Geometry Turbo) to save costs. The diesel car comes in two versions — the Classic and Classic Plus.

It’s the same engine that does duty in the Swift and several other products but it has a shorter gearing than the Swift and this has sacrificed top-end performance for better driveability. In traffic, there’s adequate power and the Classic feels quite eager in town. The shorter gearing also makes the engine work harder at higher speeds. It’ll hit 100kph in 18.92sec, which is 1.11sec down on the 90hp Linea.

And, the instant you want to make urgent progress, the diesel Linea lacks sufficient grunt. The initial turbo-lag is still there, but even after the turbo starts spinning, the strong tug or spike in the powerband is missing. But an area where the Linea simply excels is ride and handling. The springs and perfect damping results in a very pliant ride. Few shocks filter in from the road and even the largest bumps are dealt with quietly. Even when you up the speed, all that absorbent compliance miraculously is still intact. It rides flat at high speeds, only pitching a tad. Even though the steering is a bit too light, it’s direct and delivers generous feel.

The cabin is unchanged over the old car and you get the same driver-focussed dash. But quality of some of the new knobs isn’t impressive and plastic quality in the lower half of the dash is disappointing.

In terms of equipment, the carmaker has omitted some key features like airbags, steering-mounted controls and chrome touches, among other things. Alloy wheels and climate control are available only on the Classic Plus diesel variant.

Priced at Rs 6.96 lakh for the base Classic diesel variant, the Linea Classic is well priced — Fiat is following an aggressive pricing strategy with the saloon. The Linea Classic may offer more bang for your buck but there’s a lot of kit that’s missing.

The springs and perfect damping results in a very pliant ride. Few shocks filter in from the road and even the largest bumps are dealt with quietly

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