Car Reviews

Fiat Linea 125S review

The Linea T-Jet gets 11 horses added to its stable

The Linea has been in the market for over a decade now. Fiat brought in several upgrades to the sedan but the sales never picked up. So what does Fiat do? Bring in more updates! The latest in the series being this Linea 125S and as the moniker says, it makes 125ps (123bhp) of power. But can it impress the enthusiast in me (since my daily driver is a T-Jet) and make me upgrade to this uprated version? Well, we shall find out.

What’s new?
The 125S was showcased at the Auto Expo with a lowered suspension and an all-black theme, without the chrome bits. Sadly, Fiat hasn’t brought-in any of the design elements in the production version (just like in the case of the Urban Cross we drove last month) and there is no way you can differentiate this ‘sporty’ variant from the lower specced MultiJet, with the exception of the 125S badge.

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Does not get lowered suspension as showcased in the Auto Expo

The Linea 125S retains the 1,368cc T-Jet turbocharged petrol engine that was introduced in 2010. The engine has been retuned and now makes 123bhp of power (up by 11bhp) while the torque figure remains the same, at 208Nm. What it means is that the power-to-weight ratio has gone up from 90bhp/tonne to 98bhp/tonne. Along with the additional horses, a 5.7-inch touchscreen has now made way into the central console. Although it’s a high-res unit, it lacks several features, such as a reverse camera, Blue&Me and it cannot even charge iPhones anymore.

The build quality is patchy too. Fit and finish levels have improved slightly, although there is loads of scope for improvement. Having lived with Lineas for over 10 years, I felt that the doors and the hood have gotten lighter. The reassuring ‘thud’ from the closing of the door seems to have been lost with this update. The build quality is still among the best in its class, only bettered by the Vento. Everything else remains the same.

More power?
The 125S is slightly quicker as compared to the 112bhp variant, however, the difference is negligible. With the T-Jet engine, It is not about how the power is generated but how it is delivered to you in the real world. The in-gear acceleration is pretty quick. Power starts building up right from the moment you dab the accelerator and we believe that the ratios have been altered as compared to the old car. We haven’t been able to test the acceleration figures, but expect the car to hit 100kmph in less than 11 seconds.The missing sixth cog is a big sore point though and could have given the Linea longer legs on the highway and improved efficiency too. Turbo lag is minimal and once the tachometer hits the 2000rpm mark, the variable geometry turbocharger kicks in and sends all the available torque to the front wheels. There is torque steer but it isn’t as alarming as the Abarth powered hatches. The 125S is now the most powerful Linea but there is more scope if a Abarth version is introduced with 143 horsepower. Maybe in another upgrade then, before the Linea reaches the end of its life cycle.

 

Expect the 125S to hit 100kmph in less than 11 seconds

Still fun to drive?
The Linea always catered to the person seated in the driver’s seat, as we have been aware. The feelsome hydraulic steering still remains the benchmark in its class, although other manufacturers have moved to electric units for better efficiency. Even the ride and handling setup has been one of its USPs, although the raised suspension does add to some body roll. You can always brake late while entering a corner thanks to the all disc setup and keep accelerating as you exit. If there is one reason you are looking to buy the Linea, this is it. The rubbery gearbox and inaccurate ergonomics take a bit of the driving pleasure but its still a very planted car while driving hard.

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Touchscreen is high-res, but laggy

Heavy drinker
Turbocharged petrol powertrains are notoriously infamous for their high fuel consumption. The T-Jet isn’t an exception. Add to it, the 1,258kg of body weight and hence, the Linea requires loads of fluids to keep itself hydrated. We managed to eke out a best figure of 15kmpl, on a much sedate run on the Pune-Mumbai Expressway. In city, expect the figure to hover between 8-11kmpl.

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205-section tyres look handsome

Verdict:
The Linea 125S is a minor update over the 112bhp Linea T-Jet. It is not the most practical car with high fuel consumption, low cabin space and dodgy ergonomics. The T-Jet 125S Emotion we tested here is priced at Rs 10.47 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi) and if you bargain, (you must, when it comes to a Fiat dealer) you can even get incentives worth Rs 1 lakh or more. At that price, you can even remap the ECU and still end up saving over Rs 2 lakh, as compared to a Honda City, today. For every ounce of fuel it sips, it sticks a smile back on to your face. Isn’t that what the thrill of driving is all about?

evo rating:

3.5/5

Engine: In-line 4-cyl, 1368cc, turbo-petrol
Power: 123bhp @ 5000rpm
Torque: 208Nm @ 2000-3500rpm
0-100kmph: NA
Top Speed: NA
Price: Rs 10.47 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi)

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