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Old 28th May 2010, 19:34   #1
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Default Linea 1.4 (E+) - 1 year ownership review

It was sometime in Oct 2008, I was staring at the computer screen at my office in Gurgaon, thinking to myself "yaar ye sardi kab aayegi" when my cellphone rang. It was a Pune landline no. I said to myself - "finally, they called. I was expecting this call at least a week ago. But better late than never". A familiar voice at the other end spoke - "Hi Karan. Congratulations, you have been hired. I believe you would be joining us on the 24th Nov"? Of course I said yes.

So there I was, an out and out Delhite, about to be introduced to this new city - Pune. There were mixed feelings as this was the 1st time I would be away from my hometown, away from family and friends in a city where I knew only 2 people (friends) beforehand.

But there was 1 thing I was very happy and very sure of. Karan Puri will be buying a new car, and its going to be "lambiiiiiiiii".

If my rambling did not knock you off your head and you are still reading this post, a very warm hello to you fellow BHP-ian. I will be taking this opportunity to cover the ownership experience of my sedan, Fiat Linea 1.4 Emotion pack Vocal White (Thats a pretty long name. Add a "pin-code" to the darned thing and it will pass off as a home address).

In this review, I will be sharing details around the buying decisions (and the other cars shortlisted / rejected) and also the overall experience of living with the Fiat. The observations are my own and I do not intend to hurt the sentiments of other car owners / prospective owners of the other cars that I would mention here.
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Old 28th May 2010, 20:25   #2
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Now this should be interesting
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Old 28th May 2010, 20:31   #3
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Interesting intro.! Waiting for the detailed report.

I too am getting my Linea EP 1.4 soon!
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Old 29th May 2010, 02:50   #4
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Go on. We are all set to hear more.
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Old 1st June 2010, 18:28   #5
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So the hunt for the car begins. I initially set out with a budget of approx. 6 lacs. My requirements :

1) HAS to be a lambi gaadi (sedan). Have driven hatches all my life.
2) Should be good looking, what after living with the bug eyed santro for over 7 years.
3) Resale was not a consideration as I intended to keep the car for minimum 5 years. In fact, to put things in perspective, we (me and my family) never disposed off a car before 8 odd years.
4) FE was not of too much consideration as (assumed) running was not to exceed a 1000 kms a month.

Things such as handling, ride quality, possible upgrades was not necessarily considered. This was owing to my complete lack of knowledge on automobile dynamics (ride, handling, in gear acceleration etc). A special thanks to Team - Bhp for widening my perspective here. for me, the cars were classified in the following categories :

a) Affordable (within budget), slightly out of reach (may have to stretch the budget a little) and completely out of budget aka "very very expensive".
b) Fast cars and slow cars (did not give too much importance to this one though).
c) FE and non FE cars.

As mentioned above, various other car dynamics were not considered. Example - while test driving a car, if I approached a corner aggressively and the car screeched or showed resentment of any sorts, I thought it was because I did not drive it the way it was supposed to be driven, more than the fact that this was the car's weakness.
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Old 1st June 2010, 18:42   #6
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Second hand cars :

I searched various online forums and checked the classifieds. Most listings were put up by car dealers. Unfortunately, I could never look at buying from a dealer. The impending thought here was that here's someone who has bought this car on sale from someone at a lower price and will be selling to me with a mark-up on his purchase price. Translation - there is someone somewhere willing to sell this car at a (much??) lower price than what the dealer is quoting. I am not going to be anyone's meal ticket. I will only contact individual sellers.

Needless to say, this narrowed my options quite a bit. However, because of some of my friend's persuation, I did look at a few used cars from the dealers as well. They were :

Honda city - usually good examples were not too hard to come by. I preffered the OHC (type 2) and not the "new Dolphin shaped" model. I did not find the design appealing at all. However, astronomical sums of monies were quoted which I was just not willing to pay, especially for cars that have run close to 30 - 50k. It just did not seem to be worth it.

Chevy optra 1.6 - I always liked the "pre magnum" face of the optra. Test drove a 2004 model with roughly 35k on the odo. The test drive was arranged by some used car division of Mahindra. They quoted 5.5 lac + some handling / transfer fee. I quoted 4.5 lac all inclusive. Without hesitation, the manager agreed. Something did not seem right. Knocking off a lac without giving it a second thought - Fishy fishy. Needless to say, I walked away.

Toyota Corolla (1st Gen) - I had extensively driven my friend's corolla in Delhi and really loved this car. The test drive car (local dealer) was an "off white" colour (my fav in corolla), had roughly 45k on the odo and seemed all right. However, on closer inspection, found the driver side rear window and quarter glass' make year different from the ones on all other glasses. Something's not right. Asked the dealer the same question to which he replied, "ho sakta hai thodi lagi ho saarr. Bombay ka gaadi hai. But abhi to ekdum 1st class hai. Aur iska number bhi to VIP hai? Accha piece hai". Walked away.
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Old 1st June 2010, 18:50   #7
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New cars -

I am an impatient person by nature (gemini after all) and my patience was wafer thin by now. I made a decision to bid goodbye to the user car market. A novice like me could be duped very easily by these car dealers and I just did not want to lose my peace of mind.

So now the question arose, which new car? In my budget (or in the vicinity of), these were the sedans available :

1) Accent
2) Ikon - did not even consider it. did not like the looks of the new gen Ikon and also the horror stories of expensive upkeep of Fords kept me at bay.
3) Fiesta - A lil too small for a sedan. Never was a fan of the way it looked. Also, upkeep cost stories.
4) Dezire - Hmmmmm, for someone who has "looks of the car" in the priority list, it was a big thumbs down. Add to that the wait period.
5) Verna - Yet again, I found it a lil too small for a sedan. Plus, the star was the diesel engine which was out of budget.

That left me with Accent, ONLY Accent.
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Old 1st June 2010, 19:11   #8
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Hyundai Accent :

So, went for a test drive of an Accent at Kundan Hyundai (for Pune waalas, this is near Thermax Chowk). Even though the design was dated, I always liked its clean / uncluttered looks. Test drove the car (for the heck of it. I had almost made up my mind). The car was not a test drive car and the speedo was disconnected. When I enquired the same with the sales rep, all I got was a sheepish smile. Not impressed. What gaurantees do I have that the car I will get will not be abused by someone looking for a test drive? No response from the rep though.

Anyhow, enquired about the on road price which I think was close to 5.3 lac on road Pune. I also wanted fog lamps, which would be an additional 7k (IIRC). So with my mind made up, went home and started looking at my finances. That very evening, I also called up my Dad to discuss how I was to go ahead with this. The conversation went like this :

Me - Dad, aaj Accent test drive kari.
Dad - Tu Accent le raha hai? Kya hua?
Me - ??????? Matlab?
Dad - Yaar bohot puraani gaadi nahi hai?
Me - Ya, but abhi bhi acchi lagti hai.
Dad - Dezire nahi pasand? Humaare office mein kucch logo ne lee hai. It also looks better from behind, unlike the bloated up Swift.
Me - Dad, I HATE the way this car looks. In fact, I think Swift is a looker. Fat tyres, bling wheels will make .........
Dad - Fine fine. Dekh lo.

I kept the phone down. Wow, Dad!!! thinks the car is dated. This coming from someone who does not care a damn about cars. In fact, he does not even drive. "Great", I said to myself.

And as if that was not enough, I spoke to a friend in Pune (you know, one of the two people I knew beforehand). That conversation kinda put things to rest. I am not buying an Accent. This is how the conversation went :

Friend - Hey, kya kar raha hai aaj shaam. JM road aa jaa. Wahaa se Thousand Oaks chalenge.
Me - Naah, just went for a long test drive of a car. Am tired, plus I hate paying these auto waalas the ridiculous amounts they quote.
Friend - Car? Kaunsi?
Me - Accent.
Friend - Kyu? Kya hua? Accent kyu le raha hai?
Me - (Not again) Lambi gaadi mein yehi ek fit ho rahi hai.
Friend - Ek baat bata. When was the last time you saw an upgrade in the design of that car, except maybe their clear lens lights?
Me - Never
Friend - When was the last time you saw an advertisement for the Accent.
Me - (puzzled) its been a while.
Friend - Ek baat bata, company gaadi bechne mein interested nahi hai, tu kyu khareed raha hai.
Me - @#$@$%%
Friend - Tujhe pata hai tere order place karne ke baad kya hoga? "Accent ki factory" mein ek letter jaayega speed post se. Wahaan foreman letter kholega, khush ho jaayega. Bhaag ke apne workers ko neend se uthaayega aur bolega, " Bhaiyon, Accent ka order aaya hai. Jaldi se banaao".
Me - What bakwaas.
Friend - Listen, I am serious. I will not introduce you to any girls in Pune if you buy an Accent.
Me - You tell me, which car then?
Friend - Arrey ye lambi gaadi kucch nahi hoti. Meree Optra hai, so what? Trust me, go for a Swift.

My heart sank. Although he was being comical about the whole thing, he was right. It is a dated product. Maybe I should consider a Swift. Even thought its not a sedan, it sure is good looking. And I will have money left to really do it up, Fat tyres, wheels and what not.

With that in mind, I called up a Suzuki dealership for a test drive (cannot recollect the name of the dealershipo though).
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Old 1st June 2010, 19:43   #9
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Suzuki Swift :

It was sometime in the begining of the year that I got the test drive car (Swift) at my place. It was the ZXI version. Made a mental note, I am not buying the ZXI. I want fatter tyres and my choice of wheels. This will be a waste in the ZXI. Do not want the hassle of buy back and what not. Vxi will work out much cheaper, but I want the ABS waala model.

Do not recall the name of the dealership, but it was faaar from where I stayed. Full marks to the dealership for taking the pain to come that far and that too on time. They had sent 2 sales reps, a guy and a girl. Was not sure why but did not care too much about it.

The idea was to drive all the way to the dealership, speak with the manager in charge and strike a deal of some sorts. The on road price of the Swift VXI in Pune was similar to the Accent, maybe 10 - 15k lesser.

The drive was all right. But I knew that the car begins to rattle post a couple years. This feedback was given to me by a friend who owns a swift for a few years now. Inquired about the same and got a standard response from the sales rep - "this has been rectified in current models". What was done to rectify the same however was not known to him. The car was zippy, but I did feel it to be sluggish below 2k RPM. FYI - I had never owned a car with an RPM meter before. These discoveries were fascinating to a newbie like me. Overall, there was not much that I could complain about. I liked the Swift.

We reached the dealership and I was immediately introduced to the manager. No waiting whatsoever. It was a working day for me and I had made it clear that any sort of delay would be unaccpetable. They kept their promise. Kudos.

But the universe was plotting against me it seems. This was somewhere around Feb 2009 I think and I was very keen on getting a car manufactured in the current year. Pat came the reply - All cars are of 08 manufacturing only. I cannot express in words how disappointed I was. It had been roughly 3 months now and I was without a car. I had to commute to work in the company cab which I hated. From the 1st day that I have been working, I have never used company transport. I cannot listen to the constant yapping of the people around me, or "bhaiya FM chalaao, volume tez karo, AC kam karo" etc etc. I like driving by myself, listening to songs I like, with the AC at the level I want it to be.

I did not want to wait any longer. I asked - "what sort of discount will be offered on this old car"? The manager lady looked puzzled, almost aghast. It was like I had asked her to transfer all her property in my name. She said - "Sir, there is no discount on swift". To which I replied - "then give me a new car. I ll make the payment for the booking amount right now and not ask for a discount / freebies". She looked at me, even more shocked and said, "it IS a new car sir. Just the manufac.....". I stopped her there and said, "mam, if I were to sell this car today, it will be a 2008 car, irrespective of when it was registered. I will be bearing the depriciation loss due to no fault of my own. I am actually hoping that I get 10% knocked off the on road price, roughly 50k".

That was it. I had committed a cardinal sin. She went in a fit of "NO NO NO NO NO NO SIR NO NO NO NO NO NO". I did not want to argue anymore. I thanked her for her time and asked that I be dropped back to my office. She looked at me and knew I was not going to budge. She asked me to wait and approached an elderly gentleman sitting inside a cabin. She came back after two minutes and said, "Sir, the best we can offer you is 10k discount. I have spoken to our GM, specially for you sir". I shook my head and turned down the offer. She asked me to wait and went to the GM person again and returned shortly. "Sir", she said, "this is the last offer. 15k max sir. We will provide you with the ABS model in white (my colour preference) and it will be delivered to you in 20 - 30 days".

That was it for me. I told her point blank, "even 49k wont do. It has to be 50 minimum". Obviously, she refured. We shook hands and parted ways. I was not expecting a ride back after the showdown but to my pleasent surprise, I was offered a ride back with the same execs who had accompanied me earlier. Full marks on courtesy.

That said, I was in a rut, major rut. It was 3 months now and I did not have a car and no more choices to look from. Maybe it was time for a compromise (again) and go for some of the cars that I was not considering earlier. (Sob)
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Old 1st June 2010, 19:50   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by extreme_torque View Post
Now this should be interesting
Quote:
Originally Posted by Utopian View Post
Go on. We are all set to hear more.
Quote:
Originally Posted by nkapoor777 View Post
Bring it on Karan! Nice intro.

Thanks guys. I will try and cover all details possible. Please do let me know by the end of the review if there are any specific queries. I will try and answer the same to the best of my limited abilities.

Quote:
Originally Posted by arun1100 View Post
Interesting intro.! Waiting for the detailed report.

I too am getting my Linea EP 1.4 soon!
Congrats Arun.
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Old 2nd June 2010, 14:36   #11
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A phone call, ending all my worries :

Towards mid of Feb I think, I got a call from one of my friends enquiring about the purchase decision. I felt like crying. But what he said next was like music to my ears. The Linea was to be (or had been?) launched. I was grinning like a fool from ear to ear. Budget be damned, Fiat A$$ be damned, I want a Linea.

It had been more than a year since I began hearing rumors about this sedan being launched in India. A quick search on google images, and I was floored. I am sure many of us can recall the gorgeous Linea pics in that Fox Trot colour. I wanted a Linea. My lust elevated to an altogether different level when I saw her in the metal @ the Delhi Auto Expo. There she was, maroon, all shiny with touches of chrome here and there. She was gorgeous. Spoke to the Fiat rep at the stall who quoted approximately 9ish lac for a top end petrol. Mt heart kinda sank. He had suggested an Aug - Sep launch that very year. Even though it was woefully out of budget, I was still anticipating the launch. "Maybe a base version will fit in my budget", I thought.

Well fast forward to early 2009 and there she was. No longer a news, no longer my desktop fantasy. She was here. And she was here at what a price. The ex-showroom Pune price was 701000 for a petrol e+. Add to that the road tax, insurance and all sundries, and the on road price was a little less than Rs. 770,000.

Whoops, there goes the budget. But frankly, I was blinded by the urge to own this car. Whats life if you do not indulge yourself from time to time?

Again, called up dad and explained to him the Swift saga. He agreed it was not a good idea to go for it. However, then came the info on the latest entrant to my list of cars - Linea. Dad never expected this. "Fiat????" he said. How much will this cost? I quoted the price. He immediately snapped back, "why not a Honda City? Its a good car, Honda makes good cars". Some brand building honda has done in India I tell you. Full marks to them. My father, who could not care two hoots about cars (in general) knew Honda was great.

But my mind was (finally) made up. The Honda was a lakh plus dearer than the Fiat. for someone already stretching themselves by about 2 lac, further additions are not welcome. But to be honest, if I had set out with that (city'ish) sort of a budget initially, I would have gone for the City wayyyy back. No doubt about it. Not because I knew the car's capabilities 1st hand or anything but just because it was a Honda. My middle class mind did aspire for the badge. That said, Linea changed the game (for me). It was loaded with features, looked great (actually felt like a car from a segment above) and after a long long time, I could scratch that itch. Get this car out of my PC and in my garage (well ...... parking space).

Last edited by Urban_Nomad : 2nd June 2010 at 14:55.
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Old 2nd June 2010, 14:54   #12
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Initial dealership experience :

Within a day or two from me receiving word on Linea's launch, I called up the dealership (BU Bhandari aka BUB) told that Linea 1.4 is not available in the showroom for a test drive. Only 1.3's were available. Bummer. I did not want a diesel. Tried another dealership (Pandit) and got the same response. Both dealerships were prompt to tell me though that the bookings for all models / variants was open. I left my details with both dealers and asked them to call as soon as the 1.4 was available for a test drive. Having heard Fiat's reputation for not just their A$$ but also their customer follow ups, I was not expecting much.

I was in for a pleasent surprise though. Within days, I got a call from BUB saying they have a test drive car available for 1.4. Thrilled, I booked an appointment with them for the next day to test drive the car.

I reached the showroom at about 10 in the morning, and man was it crowded. What immediately grabbed my attention though, were the 3 Italians on display. A black (Drooooooollllllllllllll) emotion variant 1.3, a maroon 1.4 e + and a silver dynamic 1.3. Enough has been said about the car's looks, so I wont ramble on about that.

I was promptly attended by a sales rep, who took me to another (female) sales rep. Before the test drive, I asked her if the car could be delivered to me by the 1st week of march. She spoke to her manager for a while and came back suggesting that it may be possible for her to arrange for a dynamic version with some flexibility on the colour choice. I told her I wanted it soon to surprise my family who would be visiting me in the begining of March. She apologized and said, "Saarrrr, it will be anywhere between 30 - 45 days for the car to be delivered (1.4 e +). They (Fiat) did not anticipate a huge demand for petrol 1.4. But our present bookings are an almost 50:50 split between diesel and petrol and 90% of these are either emotion or emotion + variants". I shook my head in disappointment. The new car demo to the family would have to wait. With that, we went out for a test drive.

PS - all this while, I never got a call from Pandit.

Last edited by Urban_Nomad : 2nd June 2010 at 15:01.
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Old 4th June 2010, 15:57   #13
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Test drive and the buying decision :

It was not exactly a long test drive, but within a stretch of roughly 7 - 8 odd kms (to and fro), I encountered some heavy traffic, a fairly empty well paved road and a part of the route also had some construction work going on (read - potholes and kuccha raasta). I could sum up my observation as follows :

a) I found the interiors quite the opposite of the exteriors. Though some parts were of tolerable quality and seemed built to last, there were some parts (door levers, bonnet release, "sides" of the central console plastic) which I felt I could break with my little finger. I was not impressed. Even the design seemed kinda Palio'ish. It as not a huge let down, but in comparison to the Linea on display in the Auto expo, the interiors seemed to be a huge step down.
b) The 1st gear - what a useless gear. It was short, awkward, jerky. First I blamed it the long clutch travel but even after a year of living with the Fiat, this gear still is a pain in the wrong place. I will cover this more at a later stage.
c) She soaks bumps and pot holes with ease. You do feel the larger bumps at slow (<30 kph) speed, but its not at all jarring.
d) Acceptable drivability in traffic. The second gear is to thank here. A good range meant the need for early upshift / downshift was not really required. You can rev the car till 80kph in this gear.
e) Long turning radius.
d) In fifth gear, dropped the speed to 20 ish kph. The car still chugged along (on a slight incline too), albeit verryyyyyyyy slowly. It did not stall, no engine knocking. Good.

Overall I liked the car. To be honest, I had pretty much made up my mind before the test drive. However, the test drive did confirm that there were no "deal breakers".

Went back to the showroom, negotiated for some discount and freebies, but as expected, did not get any. Did manage to knock off roughly 4k from the insurance amount though.

At the time of launch, there were only 4 colours available - Maroon, Golden (beige), Black and Silver. Golden was knocked out almost instantly. I simply do not like golden cars. Though I have to admit, it did not look so bad on the Linea. Black and Maroon were ruled out owing to the clean-up and maintainence bit. That left silver. Asked for the same. delivery time was promised anywhere between 30 - 45 days. Paid the booking amount of 50,000 and called it a day.
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Old 4th June 2010, 16:08   #14
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Fantastic gesture from the dealership :

Remember, the family was due to visit me sometime towards the end of Feb? Well they did, and I was very eager to show them the car I had shortlisted. However, it seemed a bit of a hassle to go all the way to the dealership, wait for a short test drive etc. I called up BUB and asked them if they could send over a demo car, even though I had booked it, but wanted mum, dad and sis to have a dekko and drive. To my surprise, they obliged. 2 executives (1 of whom I think was a gentleman named Kumar. Brilliant guy) turned up at my doorstep the very next day with a silver petrol emotion pack (demo car, not a random customer car). They first took time to take us through all the features et all of the car, post which we all (barring the 2 execs) went for a long drive. We offered the execs to wait inside the house while we were away, but they politely refused and waited for us to return in the parking lot.

Family loved the car. Mom and sis took turns at the driver's deat, and dad occupied the rear seat. My Dad and I are 5'10 and 5'11 respectively. There was ample leg room and just about adequate headroom. Both mom and sis commented that the car felt planted and it was hard to guess what speed the car was doing unless one looks at the speedo. However, dad did not like that the rear windows do not roll down all the way. Overall, the sedan got their stamp of approval.
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Old 4th June 2010, 16:09   #15
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Great write up.

I would say an honest one, congratulations.

Keep rolling Iam glued.
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