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Old 25th March 2010, 14:25   #1
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Default Linea Diesel Emotion Pack - 1 year experience

Itís been work in progress for some time but I have eventually managed to finish my experience.

Selection criterion: Build quality, safety, drivability, comfort and cost of ownership and after sales service
Upgrading from: bike (personal favourite but is unsafe in Mumbai monsoon as it slides a lot) and dadís Opel Astra
Competition: Skoda Fabia (diesel/petrol), Honda City (petrol), Ford Fiesta (petrol) and FIAT Linea (petrol) Ė all within 10 lakhs. I have comfortably left out Maruti and Tata out of the race.
The winner: FIAT Linea, Diesel, Emotion Pack, Red

Build quality
Skoda had the best build, the material as well as the fit and finish. The seats were not comfortable though. The diesel was not smooth and there was lot of vibrations and noise in the test vehicle.
Honda City had very good fit and finish, but felt comparatively light. There is nothing to complain there.
Ford was equally good but I did not like the interiors and it felt light and bumpy.
Linea felt very heavy, the materials used seems better than Honda and Ford. The interiors were fresh but the fit and finish was the worst of the lot but only marginally and if one is nitpicking.
Skoda and FIAT were a standout for the materials used. The Finish was best for Skoda and Honda.

Skoda had all the safety that I was seeking, airbags, ABS, side impact beams, front crumple zones, tubeless radials etc. It gives a feeling that in case there is a crash it will keep the occupants safe and will not fall into bits.
Honda and ford also had everything on the list but somehow did not give the feeling Skoda gives.
FIAT gave a solid cocooned feeling, a heavy car with all the safety features on the list including the pre-tensioned safety belt.
There was nothing much to chose between the three but Skoda and FIAT felt more reassuring.

Cost of ownership
Skoda is a big let down there. The petrol version was not very fuel efficient and both the engines have very short service intervals. The spare parts of Skoda are very expensive. There was only 1 year warranty.
Honda has only petrol but with very good fuel efficiency for a car of its size. They make not only good engines but also a very light car, which helps in fuel efficiency. The service interval is short and spare parts expensive. The warranty was 2+2.
Ford petrol was nothing compared to Honda. Diesel was good in terms of fuel efficiency but again the service intervals were short and spare parts expensive.
FIAT had the longest service interval and the spare parts the cheapest. The warranty was 2+2.
FIAT managed to have lower spare part cost coupled with a longer service interval. With more number of cars sharing the same engine the part availability, at least for the engine, will not be a problem.

After sales service
Skoda has very few dealers and nothing close to my place. The service cost, as I read on other forums, is pretty heavy on the wallet.
Honda is equally good in after sales service. It is the closest to my home.
Ford after sales service had some issues as I read on other forums.
FIAT after sales service has the widest coverage on Team BHP and one can see that there are a lot of issues. But, considering the fact that in the next 5 years I will go for regular service only 6 times, this does not seem to me to be a big issue (hopefully I will not have any accidents of part failure in between). Anyway, I expressed my doubts to the owner of the workshop and he was surprisingly assuring. The forums on Team-BHP also mention that FIAT is listening to its customers and putting efforts in that. The old FIAT owners had mentioned problems with parts availability as the top reason rather than the lack of quality in FIAT cars.
Between Skoda and Honda there was nothing much to choose. FIAT had a poor record but now they are putting the most effort than any other brand.

Drive and comfort
Skoda did not have a very refined engine, the diesel made its presence felt by its clatter especially on cold start. The ride was bumpy and seats very firm. There was lot of space and except for the quality of the materials, fit and finish it did not look an expensive car.
Honda was good to drive, the clutch and steering was very light, and the drive was smooth with good NVH insulation. The car was bumpy in potholes and under heavy breaking it was not very confidence inspiring, even with ABS. It was not good on broken patches of roads.
Ford petrol was good to drive and diesel had its clatter. NVH was acceptable in petrol but diesel had its fair share of NVH. The interior space was at a premium at the back. The low seating at front means I had to stretch a bit to reduce the space behind even further.
FIAT petrol was a total let down as it demands the engine to be in correct rev range. The diesel was surprisingly good. It was very easy to drive and came next to Honda. There is a very strong kick in turbo as soon as the revs climb past 2000. The NVH was better than Skoda and Ford diesel but below Honda. The seats were comfortable and spacious. There is lot of space at the rear, especially width wise and is the best of the lot. The brakes are next to Ford petrol and the ride is most stable of the lot over potholes and broken patches of road. Itís the most composed of the lot.
FIAT stood out in drive department. It was very assuring and stable. The ride was smooth and the drive effortless. The steering is the best of the lot, not too heavy, not too soft or wobbly. Its perfectly weighted power steering at all speeds.

The winner
Skoda and ford dropped out of the race pretty early because my wife did not liked their cars but only agreed to allow me to evaluate. It became a two horse race between an established Honda and a resurgent FIAT. Without further logic or reasoning my wife voted for FIAT. She liked FIAT for its look and interiors and felt to be more upmarket that she can live with for the next 5 years at the least. The FIAT diesel was less expensive and had more features which she did not understand and was bothered with. She was amazed by the fuel efficiency and that it is a diesel and was willing to gamble with after sales service. She felt FIAT to be more robust and composed. To be honest that was my feeling too.

The sales experience
Before the booking I went with all more information on FIAT and thus there was not much the sales guy had to do. It was fast and the car was delivered to me a week in advance after being told to wait for 5 weeks in April 2009. I like my car clean and thus as instructed there was no sticker anywhere, no QC, no car dealer sticker, no blue and me etc. The glass, plastic, bumper all were devoid of any stickers and it looked great. The only sticker on my car as of now is the office parking sticker which I was forced to put. On my friends advice I got the Dinitrol coating and 3M Teflon coating (I knew I will not get the time and space to wax my car myself) only. No other accessory.

Out of the showroom
I realised that car needs a good sun film for AC to work effectively and reduce the blind caused by sun. From the Milan subway, Mumbai I got a 3M film S20 for sides and back. It cost me only 1200. The film was taken from a 3M sealed role and has 3M watermark on it. It is very light in colour but has noticeable effectiveness in blocking the sun heat without affecting the visibility in day or night. Itís almost a year and there is not a single scratch on the film. For the front I went for Llumar which claims to block 70% of sun heat without affecting visibility. Collectively the sun films were effective and even on the hottest of days the AC work effectively with better cooling. I got floor mats and mud flaps to complete the accessories list. No seat covers as I like the Fabric which is better in hot climates than leather/leatherite.

My experience is no more different than other Linea owners. Still there are few experience and views I can share.

My office is about 6 km from home and it takes me about 20 mins from door to door. I get a fuel efficiency of about 14.5 with AC on all the time in the weekdays. On the weekends I sometimes go to south Mumbai and other times out of Mumbai. On weekends I find ling stretch of roads and get fuel efficiency. So between tank to tank the display gives me an average fuel efficiency of more than 18 with AC on all the time. The top speed I have managed is about 185 on Mumbai Pune expressway with revs showing a healthy 4500 and no AC. The car was very stable, NVH was nothing to complain about and when I braked it slowed without any trouble and a very safe and assured way. My wife all smiles and only realised the speed after she looked at the speedo, which is when I slowed down.

There is a good thing that I really want to mention which is climate control. This is blessing in Mumbai rains. In the rains with AC on everyone faces the problem of condensation on the inside of the windscreen. This is where climate control comes into picture. The FIAT climate control adjusts the humidity, temperature and circulation inside the car while monitoring the outside conditions. What this effectively achieves is very pleasant inside as per set temperature but without any fog on the front, side or rear glasses. This improves the visibility, which helps in personal and other road users safety and I totally like this.

Driving is very easy in city as it has huge torque at low revs. There is no need to change gears constantly and I just cruise around. There is one thing that needs attention. At revs climb past 2000, there is a huge turbo boost and on slippery roads, turns etc. one needs to be very careful as there can be massive wheel spins. This is scary and needs attention. Mumbai has lot of concrete roads which I feel is low on grips. Few times, when I tried to overtake, as Iím accelerating, all of a sudden there is a kick and the front wheels spins and the car nose loses direction. This peculiar behaviour demands driver knowledge of the power band and attention and thus an extra bit of planning before overtaking. This is true only in city where average road speeds are low. I have not faced this on highway.

One thing I really like to mention is the tires. The Bridgestoneís are wear resistant. I have done 10k on these without using the spare tire. The spare tire is not on an alloy wheel which is very annoying. I will get an alloy for that too in my first 15k service. There have been no punctures as of now. The tires takes a bit of time to warm up and in that time if you a situation demand heavy braking, there will be lot of screeching and in spite of ABS the stopping distance will be more. The word of caution here is to drive slowly initially as you start your journey and be careful in cold and rainy conditions. I will change my tires when they wear out with something stickier. To date I have done only two wheel alignment and balancing, one on 5K and the second on 10K. On both occasion there was minor misalignment and wheel misbalance. This was not noticeable while driving but I stuck to the interval of 5k.

The one area I have really neglected is car care. The car is cleaned daily by the security person at my office and once a week from insides too. I have observed that there are swirl marks and dullness of the paint. Nothing alarming and only against a new Linea it is observed. So, about two months ago in Jan 2010 I took my car to 3M car care at Fortune motors, Powai, Mumbai. I paid a whopping 1700 to get the interiors cleaned and polished. There is shine on all plastics and the fabric has been cleaned along with some anti fungal treatment which I think is necessary as the sweat and dust sticks to fabric and becomes a breeding ground for germs. The exterior was cleaned and swirls were removed along with a fresh free coat of Teflon. The car looks as good as new and I compared the same against the one standing the showroom. No complaints there and this show the quality of paints and plastic components used by FIAT. I have now made a point to wax my car at least once a month and I clean my interiors once a fortnight. I use 3M microfiber cloth to clean all surfaces and have fried few different products from Formula 1, Turtle was, Armorall to Motomax. They all are pretty close and I buy depending on the availability at the time of shopping.

Another area where I felt a bit let down is road noise insulation. Now I want more. I compared with friends Honda city, Chevy Optra and Ford Ikon and all have more or less same levels of noise insulation. Without the stereo I can hear the road noise as much as any other car. I plan to double the carpet to improve the insulation. Any other reasonable suggestion will be welcome in this regard. I would say the old Honda accord has the same levels of insulations but I still want more. I like silence and not the cacophony of traffic and road.

There are no problems anywhere and I think some small issues which other Linea owners mention here can be lived with and does not bother me, although I have not experienced most of those. My seat height remains where I leave, the blue and me works will all of my phones, all my pen drives and the music CDís work, there is no tak tak or any other sound. There is though two things which are annoying and needs care. The car hits almost all speed bumps. I have gone for a 1 psi more pressure on tires and drive very smoothly and slowly over bumps. I have, of late, managed to avoid any more hits below the belly. The second is the force required to close the boot. At all malls the security guard checks the boot and tries to close the boot gently like any other car. Linea requires a lot more force and it often takes two three attempts by ignorant security guards to close the boot. Inside the car one hears a very loud thump which is very annoying. I will see if FIAT can rectify this in my next service. Any one have any advice on these two is most welcome. To some the clutch feels hard. I like my clutch to be hard and as one do not need to change the gears often this is not much of a bother for me. The clutch travel is very long and if one slides the seat to front then the steering becomes very close. But the adjustable steering and height adjustable seat means this can be worked around. Iím 5í10 and did not find it a problem which others might.

There are few things I want to improve. One is the speakers. I like Punjabi and Rock so with just a little cranking of volume the speakers goes bust. I might go for a new amp and new speakers leaving the current head as it is. I have delayed this and may still further because for a normal week I hardly travel in the car to bother me with the music. I do not want my ears to bust but want good sound quality at all volume levels which the stock unit fails to deliver. The second thing is tires which I have already mentioned earlier. After the next service I will go for another layer of carpeting to aid in insulation.

I have been on few drives out of the city repeatedly to Lonavala, Aurangabad, Pune and Nashik. On all occasions the car delivered what I expected and promised. Two things stand out. The car is no slouch. It is pretty fast and sound very good at high revs. Overtaking is no problem at all. The second thing is handling which is very good. The car sticks to road (once the tires are warm enough) and corners to where one wants to go. The high speed stability and cornering is excellent. The NVH is very good. Unless told none of my friends were able to figure out that it is a diesel whether as a passenger or a driving. It is that good a car. Unless someone really rips their car to out accelerate you, Linea manages to stay in the leading pack in all departments be it acceleration or top speed but ahead in braking and handling. I donít think there is any car, under 10 lakh, which will give performance that will tilt the g-force scales.

The experience at first service was satisfactory. This was for the 3000k first service. I was not facing any problem so there was nothing much to complain still I mentioned sound insulation and the force required to close the door as areas to check. The car was delivered before the proposed time and I received a call from service engineer as well as a SMS. The car was clean and dry, there was nothing much to complain but I donít think they did anything about the two things I mentions. As I said FIAT is doing its bit to assure its customers as well improve its services. I got a feedback call from FIAT and I mentioned the above two experience as well other nitpicks. Overall I still said that Iím satisfied while I demanded more. To my surprise within 2-3 weeks I got a call from service centre and they requested me to bring the car for check-up and rectify anything that I requested and they missed during the service. I said its ok and donít bother as I there is nothing much they can do about insulation and I have got used to the heavy door. I did not go. About a month ago, I received a gift from service centre with a apology letter and assurance that they will strive to provide improved service in future. Well, in past my dad had an 800, Zen and Opel Astra and we had faced few problems with dealers. I have never seen this level of involvement and commitment by Maruti or GM. This is a surprise and perhaps will lead to even better service from TATA and FIAT.

The experience to date has been pleasant and there has not been any major issues which could have made me repent my decision.

If you need more info on my experience then please feel free to drop a line.
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Old 25th March 2010, 14:40   #2
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A well-written thesis. Congratulations and best wishes, jawanak, for your prized possession.
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Old 25th March 2010, 15:09   #3
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Originally Posted by J.Ravi View Post
A well-written thesis. Congratulations and best wishes, jawanak, for your prized possession.
+1 on the "Thesis" part. Wow, took a while to read. Jawanak, as your "thesis" was in WIP for quite some time, how old is your car now?

Hey, jokes apart, you seem to have done a systematic study to choose this car and hope this car serves you for many years to come.
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Old 25th March 2010, 15:42   #4
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nice review please post some pictures soon
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Old 25th March 2010, 17:38   #5
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i wrote this in word doc and it was not looking very long. After pasting it in it seems sooo long. My apologies for this 'thesis'. So much words is a put off. But then to sum up one year experience will take few pages.

Great to know that you got patience to read through.
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Old 25th March 2010, 18:22   #6
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On the contrary, it was a very well written, descriptive post. Please continue to do so in the future, they are a great help to potential buyers and even other enthusiasts.
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Old 25th March 2010, 18:45   #7
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This is the kind of review that I am looking for. I am torn between the City and the Linea and your post gives lot of confidence in selecting the latter.

Kudos for an excellent and honest review.
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Old 25th March 2010, 19:59   #8
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Originally Posted by jawanak View Post
i wrote this in word doc and it was not looking very long. After pasting it in it seems sooo long. My apologies for this 'thesis'. So much words is a put off. But then to sum up one year experience will take few pages.

Great to know that you got patience to read through.

Hey that was a heart felt review. Dont worry about the length of the review. It will be great if you can post some photos of your car.
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Old 25th March 2010, 22:07   #9
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nice review man. please post the fotos also
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Old 25th March 2010, 22:10   #10
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A red Linea ! Never seen one, please do post the pics.

Congrats and all the best !
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Old 25th March 2010, 23:17   #11
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That review pretty sums up everything about the Linea. What would make it complete would be some interior pics.
Wishing you more happy miles with the Linea.
Originally Posted by jawanak View Post
The tires takes a bit of time to warm up and in that time if you a situation demand heavy braking, there will be lot of screeching and in spite of ABS the stopping distance will be more.
AFAIK the stopping distance is a bit more with a car equipped with ABS compared to the non-ABS one. It just makes sure that you don't lock your brakes while heavy braking.
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Old 26th March 2010, 11:34   #12
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It is Flemenco red...
At the start the braked and tires does not have the same bite and there is invariable screeching for stopping or cornering.. this is not a problem but one needs to be careful for first 10 mins to get the grips..
I will get some pics this weekend and try to post the same ..
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Old 30th March 2010, 19:01   #13
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waw that was really a big non stop read for me Nice to see a happy Linea owner!

..........had faced few problems with dealers. I have never seen this level of involvement and commitment by Maruti or GM. This is a surprise and perhaps will lead to even better service from TATA and FIAT.
Nice to see FIAT doing every thing to improve the A>S>S!

we are awaiting the pics
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Old 1st April 2010, 09:43   #14
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Great Report! Till now, I was not that big fan of Linea, but I like Punto very much. From your report I believe Linea is very capable sans the interior parts' quality.

Keep it up. You have got a very good car!
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Old 12th April 2010, 15:36   #15
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Jawanak - one word. Awesome review. This is the first time I have seen a feel-by-the-experience review on this forum. I have read so many others, but from your review one can guage whether to buy the car or not. And one can never be in doubt on this car. Whichever way whether the purchase is made or not. Do post some good photos which would complement such a good review. Would appreciate it if you can post the mileage figures in greater detail and also exact pricing/loan details.
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