In automotive circles, the 1.3-litre MultiJet diesel engine made by Fiat is informally known as the national engine of India. This fabulous motor powers the Swift siblings, Ritz, SX4 and Ertiga (Maruti); Sail siblings, Beat, Enjoy (Chevrolet); Indica Vista, Indigo Manza (Tata); Rio (Premier); and, of course, the Grande Punto and the Linea (Fiat). So why is this the case that a Fiat engine in a Fiat car fails to sell as well as a Fiat engine in, say, a Maruti or a Tata vehicle? Understandably, then, it’s not only the engine that makes a car desirable, it’s also the things that surround the engine. Although the Linea is one of the most beautiful cars to be powered by the MultiJet, its sales have remained low. Fiat has now launched the 2014 edition of the sedan, which gets a thorough facelift and a major interior update. We figure out how good Fiat’s latest effort to push the sales of the Linea is; remember, the Linea faces competition from the Honda City, Hyundai Verna and Skoda Rapid—cars that are no pushovers.
Not as flashy as the Verna, not as timeless as the Rapid, and not as futuristic as the City, yet the design of the Linea stands out—it is clean, curvy and the facelift does a great job of giving the Linea a more premium look. There is a lot of chrome trim all around and the two-slat front grille looks striking. At the back, the number plate is now on the boot lid. The front and rear bumpers look fresh, as do the new alloy wheels. The car doesn’t look vastly different from the sides though—the only change being ORVMs that have side-indicators on them.
Open and shut the doors of the Linea and you will find that it is built like a tank. The ‘thud’ sound the doors produce are a testimony to its exceptional build quality. The Linea was and remains a solid European car. Step inside and you will see that Fiat has completely reworked the cabin. The colour scheme—black and beige—is a treat for the eyes. The in-cabin lighting is a warm orange glow and the new dials look smart. The digital trip computer provides a lot of information, including trip readings, distance-to-empty figure, average speed, average fuel-consumption and real-time fuel-efficiency.
There is ample space all around, though some tall people sitting at the rear may find their head