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Old 22nd April 2009, 12:35   #1
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Default One more Fiat Linea ownership review:

Background-
I am one of those guys who were waiting for the Linea for a couple of years now. Hoped for a 1.9, then 1.6 and then came to know it is the 1.3 VGT. Checked out the car in Concord Guindy the day it was on display. Was impressed enough to go for a TD when it was available. I felt the engine was adequate and the interior plastics was average in an otherwise good car. But given my driving distance, I wanted to go for the petrol, the TD for which was not available. The dealership kept regularly calling to update about status on the petrol TD car and also check on my decision. Finally the petrol was available and the sales guy (Rajkumar) kept calling to fix an appointment, came to my office to give TD., pricelist etc. I was not happy with the petrol's power and when both engines gave similar output, preferred the torque of the diesel and so decided to go for the MJD E+. I had seen the white Linea in the Autocar winter testing photographs and thought I would wait for that colour to be released. In the meantime, the sales guy and the dealership kept in touch with me separately to enquire status of my decision.

Finally, white was avaialble on April 1st week and I went to check it out. Was not very impressed as I felt it made the car seem larger than it already was. Went back to my second choice of red. Rajkumar hinted about the price increase but said he would not be able to help me on this as FIAT was very particular of the price being what it was at the tme of invoicing. When I asked him what he had in stock, he called the stockyard and confirmed that in E+, they had a white petrol and a red MJD. Gave a advance amount and later the day he came home to pick up the cheque for the remaining amount. Invoicing was done the same day so got the old price. This was on a Saturday and delivery was promised on Thursday or Friday, given there was a govt holiday in between.

Showroon experience:
Didn't go with too much expectations, given I am familier with TATA showrooms. I definitely did not expect a Honda like environment. The place was dirty, crowded, AC was not effective and there were a lot of fly's !! But I was attended to by dedicated sales staff, a FIAT representative was at hand to answer questions etc. On the second visit I got a brochure, pricelist etc. and was offerred coffee/softdrinks. I was accompanied by my 4.5 yr old son for the TD (wifey refused to come due to me allegedly behaving like a "boy in a toy store" when we went the first time to check out the car ) and Rajkumar kept him entertained while I checked the car, answered his questions and even remembered his name and colour preferences in subsequent meetings. The GM of the delaership also came to chat about the car without going into any sales pitch. I had mentioned to Rajkumar of the difference in showroon experience when compared to say Honda and he said he was aware of it and on a later meeting, said he had raised it to FIAT on one of their discussions. The Nano was also there at some time and that added it's own mad rush until they put up an outdoor stall and moved it there. The waiting area was predominantly occupied by prospective taxi owner/drivers.

Test Drive:
It was too short, especally on the MJD as they had a specific route they followed. I could have asked for a longer one but didn't. The petrol TD was longer but I had decided after the first KM that of the two, I preferred the diesel. I felt that both engines, though adequate, was not going to be fun. The suspension was the highlight, both for ride comfort and handling. I drove through some potholes on purpose and the car handled it well with some muted thump's. The diesel's sound inside cabin was on the higher side but thought I would soon get used to that. Petrol was more quiet and refined.

Delivery:
The sales guy came to the RTO on Wednesday to help me get a special number. He had taken down my preferences the previous day and suggested I need not come there as it would be crowded, but I went anyway. I didn't get any of the numbers I wanted as most were blocked for "govt use". I decided 8K was not worth settling for what was avaialble and so decided to go for the regular number. Rajkumar SMS'ed me the number that night.

Next day he called to say he was targetting 1 PM to handover the car. He had personally gone to the numberplate guy to get the plates. I went there at 1 and all the paperwork were ready, their final PDI was done, car was washed and waxed and the number plate was being fixed. I wanted to take delivery before 1:30 due to raahu-kalam, so he hurried through the process, final signatures done, a small puja and photo later, the keys were handed over. Then we went to the car to go over the final PDI (I had the team-bhp checklist. He was so impressed with the checklist that he made a copy so that he could do a good PDI for future customers ) and I noticed that the center console was loose. He called the Delivery Officer and they discussed for some time and decided that the best place to fix this was at their workshop in Ambattur. I think they genuinely felt bad and kept apologizing. The entire dealership lined the driveway clapping and waving flags as I drove out. That was cool.

Service Center:
Rajkumar accompanied me to the workshop and approached the FIAT service manager directly. He initially said it would take 10 minutes but it took almost an hour to fix, though the service manager kept updating me in between that it would take more time. When it was done, he showed me the broken plastic rivet and told me that he had emailed about this incident to FIAT.

The service center waiting room was also occupied by taxi owners and drivers. But they sent someone to check if I wanted coffee etc. The power went after 10 minutes and they had to run on generator. I guess they had a load issue, as they switched off the waiting roon AC in favour of the regular staff AC's. After I complained, it was switched back on.

Living with the car:
I've had the car for almost 2 weeks now and there are no surprises. The wow factor of some of the features continue and the good points in the car continue to keep me happy. The engine, which I initially felt was adequate, now feel underpowered in city driving. Situations in traffic where I would have expected not to downshift sees the car bogging down and the engine lugging. I drive an OHC so it's not that I am used lots of low end torque! But drive a bit more aggressively (hold the revs longer) and I don't face this problem and car has sufficient power always. First gear is too short, but guess it had to be that way to compensate for the lack of power.

The driver footwell is too narrow and fouls with clutch/brake usage and also I can feel some steering related movement under my feet. The long travel pedals also causes my right foot discomfort as during part throttle, it is at an unnatural angle. Gearbox is not very slick but I expect it will ease up with use. Other than these minor things, I am enjoying the car and am raring to go for some long drives. I haven't really checked mileage as I have only done 300 kms and the display shows 12 kmpl.

The radio/mp3 is downright bad and seriously requires an upgrade. Blue&Me works reasonably well, though voice commands are iffy. Engine noise is annoying me more now and I don't think I'll get used to it. And it's not a good sound either but an unsporting / unrefined groan. The exterior continue to be a joy, with the good design and glossy red finish. The orange instrumentation lighting and the diffused LED interior lighting is very nice, though I didn't like it initially.

The suspension is the kicker. Only when I switch cars and drive the OHC do I realize how much more refined the Linea is. Same for the overall build too, from the moment the door closes with a solid thunk. Front seat comfort is not too good and could use more bolstering, especially under thigh and sides. I found the back seats more comfortable. The ACC works well, except at night when I would manually reduce the fan speed further from the auto setting. Default selection of external air is an irritant.

Overall, am very happy with the car and it was worth the long wait. For me, the Linea is the right size (large enough), comfortable, looks good, good economy and feels well built. There are a lot of small well thought out features like the selectable speed alarm, follow me home headlights, delayed interior lights etc. Hope FIAT sorts out the A S S issues and it's all set to be a long and enjoyable ownership experience for me.

Didn't get time to take pics; will do so at a later date.

Gears,
Red-One.
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Old 22nd April 2009, 12:47   #2
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Superb review! Congratulations my dear name sake!
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Old 22nd April 2009, 12:54   #3
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Congrats on your new car and I am happy you got Rajkumar as your sales guy. As per your report he seems genuine and interested in his job. Good for you.

Your first 2 weeks review of the car seems to be quite a balanced one and I am glad you have touched the finer points and the not so fine points of Linea. This would definately help the prospective buyers to decide.

Wish you luck with your new ride and hope to see some pics soon.
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Old 22nd April 2009, 12:54   #4
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congratz dude!
enjoy your ride and upload the pics soon
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Old 22nd April 2009, 13:11   #5
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RedOne: congrats on your car. Your review did strike a chord with me i had the same thoughts when i TD'ed the Linea. Nonetheless there is no argument that at this prices range its a good looking, well featured and great VFM car.

Enjoy the admiration!
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Old 22nd April 2009, 13:45   #6
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Hey Redone.
Congrats and hope you are enjoying the car
where are you put up in Chennai.
I am in amanjikarai and working in DLF Porur building.
if we get free time we will meet some day.
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Old 22nd April 2009, 14:08   #7
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Congrats buddy.

Good to see a happy delivery experience.
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Old 22nd April 2009, 14:12   #8
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Redone..very nice ownership review which is passionate and elaborate.
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Old 22nd April 2009, 14:23   #9
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Congrats and it was nice to see such a honest and straight review....happy motoring...
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Old 22nd April 2009, 14:34   #10
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Great Review !!! Very well written . I really liked the Linea exteriors.

Happy driving

-Nitya
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Old 22nd April 2009, 14:36   #11
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Redone - I have heard so many complaints regarding the follow-ups from the sales guys(they never do after you book a car) but in your case,you found a really decent guy.

The Linea looks great in red

Post some pics soon..
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Old 22nd April 2009, 15:15   #12
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That's a wonderful buying experience. Congrats on the new car. But the mileage seems a bit low. Maybe cause it has just done 300 odd KMs.
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Old 22nd April 2009, 15:20   #13
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Thanks guys. Yup, looks like I really lucked out on the sales guy.

Karthik, I stay in Valmiki Nagar, Thiruvanmiyur and work in TIDEL. Let's plan to meet; I think we have enough Lineas here to have a t-bhp Linea meet .

Gears,
Red-One.
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Old 22nd April 2009, 15:40   #14
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Redone - nice HONEST review you have made

good to see that you have mentioned about some shortcomings also that too immediately after your purchase. a lot of people don't have the maturity to mention that

the Linea is indeed a good package overall with its own strong and weak points like any other car.

Compared to OHC you would love the better seating position ( which will help in long drives ) as well as the fresher interiors ( not to mention the supremely better ride )

the performance is something you might miss but you will be rewarded evertime you drive in to the fuel station
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Old 22nd April 2009, 16:08   #15
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A rare non biased review of the Linea.

Will help immensely to future fiat customers.

Congrats for having a nice car.
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