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Old 22nd August 2009, 02:01   #1
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Thumbs up F. Red Linea MJD Emotion through CSD

Hi everyone, this is my first post in this forum. Before I continue I must tell you that we are upgrading from Tata Indica V2 DLS and so Linea feels like a Mercedes to us and most of my comments and comparisons are with regards to Indica unless specified otherwise!

How it started: In May starting dad told me that it was time to dispose off our 5 years & 71000 km old Indica V2. The brief that he gave for the new car was that it had to be a sedan and the budget was 7 Lakhs. And oh yes, a diesel was preferable. In Punjab people usually buy diesels. That’s the trend, I don’t know exactly why, maybe because the rates for diesel are one of the cheapest and that of petrol are one of the most expensive. Since I'm the one in the family who's into cars and bikes, I set out to find a worthy successor to our faithful Indica. I never liked the Verna and Fiesta somehow never fit into our bill. So we were left with Linea and ANHC.

The decision: I had developed a strong dislike for Honda recently because they offer less equipment/accessories (than that of S. Asian and American markets) and still price their products at a premium, although I must add that airbags and ABS are standard. This used to make me feel that Honda is giving Indians a step-motherly treatment. However despite all this I knew that ANHC was a good car and that it enjoys a cult status among Indians, especially Punjabis. Mom wanted us to go in for ANHC than Fiat as she wanted the car to be a status symbol as well (err, who thinks of Fiats as status symbols here!). So I did a rough comparison between the cars and according to my research the ANHC came out trumps in only 3 departments (compared to diesel Linea): -
0-100 Performance
After sales support
Better resale value

Linea on the other hand always had great reviews everywhere including Team-BHP. But the thing that struck me most was that all the magazines and auto shows ended up recommending it. Now there's a great difference between branding a car good, and recommending it! I personally give a lot of importance to features and Linea had ANHC on the mat in this regard. And the gorgeous looks didn't hurt and only cemented it further as our choice. It offered good space, great interiors, big boot (of particular importance to us), unmatched looks in it's category, awesome features, a great engine and most of all a diesel and frankly I have a soft corner for Fiat, so the only thing left for me to do was to convince my family. Dad gave in easily, younger brother had no interest so was easy to bag and the toughest was mom as she was stuck on ANHC, because her sister had told her something about ANHC which I guess only two sisters can know (pun intended)! But then I started giving her loads of technical jargon (of which she didn't understand a bit) and also gave her a low-down of Linea's features. She didn't say yes but she also didn't say no and that was it. Besides we were getting a diesel at the same price as that of Honda's petrol and that my friends, was the final nail in ANHC's coffin! And I would just like to clarify that I'm not saying that Linea is better than ANHC, but just that it suited us better.

The test Drives (just for the heck of it): We TD Linea MJD first at Hind Motors Chandigarh and I was blown apart by it's road manners. It was just rock steady and even during turns hardly fluttered. I also found the ride to be very quiet over the bad surfaces. Thanks to the Indica hangover, linea felt like a Ferrari to me! But I was expecting a little more pulling power in the lower revs, so the performance wasn't bad and wasn't that good also. But we could easily live with it, mind you it wasn't bad but we were just expecting a bit more from a car of this segment. The sales person was fairly informative and did try his best to show Linea in good light. But by that time I had already done so much research on Linea that I knew the specs and the features like the back of my hand. One thing that impressed me the most about him was that he totally knew all the settings of the ICE! And while he was going on trying impress us he told us that Linea has 32 rolling codes while Skoda Laura has 8! So according to him Linea is safer than a Laura! I have not been able personally verify that claim and don’t intend to also.
After that we went for a quick TD of ANHC. The person briefing us didn't seem as enthusiastic as the one of Linea's but overall the ambience and staff behaviour of Honda dealership were better than that of Tata motors dealership. Dad and me were sure of better performance from the Honda but surprisingly it didn't feel much quicker and we weren't over the moon as we had hoped for. Of course it was faster than Linea but not as fast that it would Linea in the dust, or so we thought. Incidentally Autocar India's in-gear acceleration timings for Linea MJD are quicker than ANHC; probably that is why we felt that it wasn't much quicker. It (ANHC) also felt a lot more bouncy but the cabin was a lot quieter.

So after the TD's we felt that we weren't missing much performance in Linea compared to ANHC and Linea felt more solid too- right from the time you close those massively thick doors. And that reminds me that the salesperson (Linea) also mentioned that Linea has 2 crossbeam members in the doors compared to one in most of the other cars. Sounds good. Since the TD's were more of a formality and not decision making ones it didn't matter much to us but the one thing I was happy to know was that Linea MJD isn't much of a slouch compared to ANHC.

The Deal: Both the dealers in chandigarh- Hind Motors and Joshi Motors were wooing us. Joshi took the first initiative and offered us Teflon coating, floor mats and mud flaps. We conveyed the same to Hind Motors and they told us whatever Joshi's offering we'll offer too. In the end we went to Hind because they were closer to our home. We wanted the F. Red and they had in stock. So we finalised the loan with our bank but due to their incompetence things got delayed by a day and due to which the weekend came into the picture and we had to wait for 2 more days. We gave an advance of Rs. 10000 to book the car. The next day we took the draft from the bank and gave it to Hind Motors. We were told to collect our car in the evening (25'th May). The delivery was a pretty sombre event with the staff at Hind Motors Mohali doing nothing to make it special. And to top it off the delivery got delayed by two hours because they had not sorted out their paper work. They explained that was because they had a lot of deliveries that day and I was thinking how lousy can these people actually be as they already knew 3 days beforehand that we were buying it and even had booked it! Anyway we spent those 2 hours examining Nano and 500 (yes there was one there at that time- apparently a NRI from Ludhiana was gifting it to his wife on their anniversary! Lucky wife). Finally our car was ready but I still had to wait to get a ride in that because I had to drive our Indica back home. They didn't have mud flaps at the time (surprisingly Hind Motors has not got them even till today!) and the original floor mats, so they gave us some other mats. Overall the experience was kind of so-so, nothing great and nothing that bad. And till recently I was after Hind Motors to now give us the original floor mats since they now had them. Had to do a lot of brain storming with them on the issue. They had also promised to get our car registered. They didn't do that and finally we had to run on the last day to get it done ourselves so that also kind of soured the experience. We took up the matter with the highest authorities at Hind Motors regarding false delivery promises. But I don’t think that any actions will be taken against those incompetent fools.

The Armed Forces difference: I would like to inform you that through Canteen only two trim versions are available, Emotion in diesel and Emotion Pack in petrol. Linea was made available through CSD only in the 3'rd week of May, so we were very lucky as we bought our Linea around that time only. We also got 45% no claim bonus from our Insurance of Indica. The price break up is as follows: -

Ex-showroom (CSD) Emotion MJD - 6,83,815/-
Insurance (After 45% NCB) - 9800/-
Registration (2% of ex-showroom)- 13676/-

On Road- 7,07,291/-

3000 Km report (In 2 months): I'll not go too much into detail as to how the car behaved in this period as there is already a lot of information regarding that and our case has not been too different. However I'll share my thoughts.
Drive & FE: The car feels as solid today as it was when it was brand new. I just love the dynamics of the vehicle. Now we don’t worry too much about bad roads because the Linea just drives through them. And while you're doing that you don’t feel that the car's parts are falling apart. There is muted thud when you go over a pothole or a bump. The ride improves with speed as at too low speeds the suspension feels hard and you're jostled around a little bit if the road is very bad, however as speed increases it is able to soak up these better. As a result we now don’t tend to slow down on bad sections and the bad sections don’t feel that bad at speed. Anyway Chandigarh's/Mohali's roads are one of the best in the country so that's not much of a bother anyway. But the one thing I am just nuts about is it's handling. It's superbly phenomenal. Every time I go faster and faster (where ever it's feasible) around turns and after 3 months I have still not been able to get the tyres to squeal or make the car roll violently. In short, my courage runs out before Linea's grip does and all this with normal tyres! And that just brings a smile on my face every time. It makes me feel happy and I'm sure it'll make anyone who's fond of driving, happy. Now the FE, till now on every tank full to tank full we have got a standard 12.5 Kmpl. And on all the occasions the MID has been showing 13~13.4 average FE. It's been all city driving with ACC on all the time. I was expecting more FE as there are no traffic jams here and roads are good. However after the third service the MID has been hovering around 14.5~14.8 Kmpl. I'll let you guys know the result of the tank full method next time we top it up. And this one thing I want to ask others- do they do some mileage tuning in the first service?

1'St service:
Service went off very well. Had taken a prior appointment but there was really no need as there were hardly any Fiat cars for service that day. Dropped the car at 1100 hrs. Hind Motors facility at Mohali is new Fiat-Tata sales and service centre with separate sales and service area for Fiat cars. The service centre is very clean, spacious and very upmarket with a good waiting room as well. Went inside, asked them about service and I was appointed an advisor. I had taken out the chrome strip from the rear left quarter glass as it was loose and gave it to him to fix it. Also told him that the other strip is also loose and so they should fix that as well. No problem is what he told me. So far so good. Apart from that there were no problems (touchwood). One thing that I asked him to confirm was to check the airflow at the co-passengers foot well, which is almost non-existent. I was told the car would be ready by 1400 hrs and I would be intimated. That was fine but what was not fine was that they dropped me back on somebody's bike and not some car from the dealership and that I feel is pathetic. I was called at 1430 hrs to collect the vehicle. While taking delivery I checked for any damage and cleaning. I was happy to see that the work done was good with not a thing out of place. It was polished well and smelled nice too. The chrome strips were stuck with Feviquick and I had read on this forum that it would not stick that well with it. But now I cant even budge the strips off their place. So that's good work done again. Later on while taking delivery the service advisor told me that the co-passengers foot well airflow is same as the other cars! I was shocked as this means there is a serious design flaw somewhere. So I went and checked a new car and surprisingly the story was same there too. So I just accepted it and thought of taking it up with Fiat (haven't taken it up till now though). But the car that we checked was petrol and that is when I realised that the petrol was louder than MJD at idle, whoa! I seriously feel that Fiat should have provided a more silent petrol engine.

The good bits:

Firstly the interiors. In my view they're class leading. I've heard about the plastics being an issue but we've had no problems. And I would say the plastics on the dashboard and the central console is as good as you can get in this range. The plastic quality of the dashboard in the ANHC for that matter is no better. I've not seen any ANHC owner crying foul over the dashboard plastics and so Linea owners complaining of poor plastics actually leaves me baffled. Even the buttons on the central console, the stalks, ICE, ACC and MY Car all have a very soft and tactile feel to them. Although I agree that some parts like interior door handles, bonnet release lever, seat adjustment levers feel flimsy and need to be (and should be) of better quality. But to lambaste the entire plastics in the interior is not done. When we were sold the car we were told by the salesman to be careful with the bonnet release lever and the switches on the central console. Yeah it does tell you that they're weak but it's something that one can easily live with. You just have to be a little careful with them that it! But then again these are just 2 things and not the entire dashboard.

It's build quality. The car's got no squeaks or rattles from anywhere till now. Its rock solid build quality inspires confidence. I love the fact that no one new is able to close the doors first time around.

The other thing I like are the features. As I've said I particularly give a lot of priority to features and Linea is again class leading here. Since we have Emotion we don’t have Blue n' Me, airbags and alloy wheels but still it's pretty loaded. My personal favourite is ACC. Almost everyone who's seen our car has praised its cooling efficiency and it cools the cabin uniformly. Sunshade and chrome strips on top models are again something that's found rarely even in cars double its price. Makes the car feel all the more special. Illuminated vanity mirrors are again something that gets special mention in my book.

Ride and handling- perfect setting and compromise between the two leaves you with a grin from ear to ear.

Small things that go a long way- like the ambient lighting & driver-facing keyhole. These are things that are not going to make or break a car or the company or cost a fortune to implement. What they do is just extend goodwill. I remember getting cheesed off in our Indica because I could never feel the keyhole and then I had to open the door and stick my head out to see it and fit in the key. These are small things, which nobody notices but they go a long way in improving convenience and ergonomics. The ambient lighting makes you feel as if you're sitting in a much more expensive car.

Styling- The car is so beautiful that even a blind person will appreciate it just by feeling it's curves. The designer touches are just superb- the flowing A & C pillars, wheel fenders, the clean yet striking tail and small subtle touches like the elliptical indents on the headlights etc. Put simply it's a lip smacking great piece of art. Looks a lot more expensive than it actually is!

Brakes- I give as much importance to brakes as to performance because things can get tricky sometimes in city driving and that's when you feel the need for good brakes. And it can happen on the highways too so the importance of good brakes must not be downplayed. Linea's brakes though spongy and grabby are superb. Now I'm not worried about stopping in time but am worried about the guy behind me whether his/her car will be able to stop in time or not and bang into me.

Overall feel good factor- The car offers so much for it's price that you feel that you're getting a lot more car for your money. Tata's A.S.S. and Fiat's reputation here aside if we just take the car for the car it is and judge it on it's merits and demerits you definitely feel that it does more good things and nothing that bad. All this thinking of a wise investment does make you feel good!

The bad bits:

Some plastic parts- no need to elaborate again.

GC- I've noticed that the engine sump guard is really low and most of the times that is what is scraping the ground. The GC under the doors and in between the wheels is fine because we haven't scrapped even the biggest speed breakers here, provided we proceed slowly. But on bad patches of road sometimes the underbelly (read sump guard) does bottom out. Also I feel that the front bumper is hanging too close to the ground.

Turning radius- Too large for even a car of this size. Makes parking the car in tight places a pain and makes you think 10 times before taking the car to crowded places.

The thing that I hate the most- Clutch travel. It's way too long and you simply cannot get used to it. This coupled with long throw gearbox takes away some of the driving fun and I am sure results in an extra second in 0-100 dash. Though the gears slot in nicely (read somewhere that it's notchy- well not ours) and the gear lever doesn't transmit vibrations, the long throws don’t feel crisp. Also the inability to slot 5'th from 4'th directly in one movement doesn't help it in getting any brownie points from me.

Cramped foot well- pedals are widely spaced hampering heel and toe technique. It hardly leaves any space between the clutch and the dead pedal, which is very inconvenient.

Visibility around turns: The thick A pillars are the culprits here. Straight ahead visibility is good but around corners and on twisting roads it does suffer thanks to those A pillars. Chandigarh has a lot of roundabouts and I really have to move my head a lot to get a good view. But still it's very tricky.

Hardly any airflow in the co-passengers foot well.

What I would like:

Bigger and deeper cup holders would be welcome as the current ones can only hold narrow base glasses, although cans fit in nicely.

Linea internationally is available with electric lumbar adjust (for the driver) and rear 60:40 split seats. A split rear seat and even a manual lumbar adjust would have been highly appreciated.

Bigger door pockets with bottle holders. The current ones are just a formality it seems.

A better ICE with a remote and standalone USB support. For normal listening it's quite decent though it should have been better. I know that even internationally most of the Fiats and its subsidiary’s cars carry this ICE but still a car of Linea's class at least deserves a 45x4 W RMS ICE. And nowadays absence of a remote is criminal!

I would have also liked the audio controls on the steering despite the absence of Blue n' Me. Just the audio controls, would have been perfect.

Seat belt warning in Emotion- surprising as it may sound but Emotion doesn't have a seat belt alarm! Considering it's got pretty much everything that Emotion Pack has got, so the omission of this warning is incomprehensible. The seat belt light just blinks 7-8 times when you start the car and goes off irrespective of the belt's position. I had taken the car to the service centre. The advisor there told me that's it's normal in this trim. So got it confirmed from Mangesh Kodalkar as well. He gave a positive on that as well.

Progressive brakes as compared to the spongy brakes that Linea has. It would result in much better brake feel as right now even with slightly excessive pressure the brakes just jam and you have to be very careful and keep that in mind.

Other notes:

1) About a month back my masi had come over from Delhi. They have a Dzire. After taking out their stuff from the boot when I closed the boot as compared to Linea it felt as if it's made of aluminium foil! This further boosts up your ego and makes you feel a proud owner of one the best made and solid cars around.

2) A few days back I drove one of my friend's brand new Indica Vista TDI. While approaching a junction I pressed the brake pedal lightly having been used to Linea's brakes. The car didn't shed speed and eventually I had to panic brake. And I was particularly surprised because it was a brand new car. Such is the disorienting effect of Linea's fabulous brakes that it leads you to under brake in cars with not so good brakes.

3) Fiat is quite popular here. I don’t know if that is the case in rest of Punjab also! You can see scores of Palios everyday (of course all diesels, no 1.6 or 1.2) and on an average I see 5~8 Linea's a day. Again I'm yet to see a petrol Linea here. And Palios still sell here! Haven't seen many Puntos though.

Things some people have doubts about:

1) Oil change- Well firstly I'd like to inform that I'm a Marine Engineer and so have technical knowledge about these things. Linea uses synthetic oil, which are oils that are made in the laboratory and are not derived from petroleum. As such they don’t have a shelf life and don’t oxidise (burning up) as much as mineral oils and hence have a longer service life in addition to their almost unlimited shelf life. So if Fiat recommends oil change at 15000 Km then I don’t disagree, as in Europe it's already 20000-25000 km. So for India they've already reduced the interval. I'm sure the oil will easily last that much. In every sense synthetic oil is better than mineral oil. So the next question is why doesn't everybody use it? Answers simple- it's damn expensive and so it's only used where the highest standards are required and wherever it's economically feasible. So if you want a 15000 km service interval then you have no choice but to use synthetic oil. I was reading in Geeash's thread that he had an oil change at 1000 Km and he remarked that the oil was dirty. Well firstly that oil was hardly dirty and secondly one of the many desired qualities of L.O. is detergency. That is it's ability to wash/dissolve away the carbon deposits. So the oil should keep on getting dirty over time. On the contrary if after 1000 km the oil is still clean then that's not the sign of a good L.O. as that means that it's low on detergency and is not being able to wash away the carbon. So don’t get scared to see the oil being slightly blackish. It's a good sign. Oil getting unusually dark in a very short time indicates a serious problem.

And by the way I read in NHC's manual to not change the oil during it's running in! Now I don’t know if that's a standard thing or specifically a Honda thing. And also Linea has no running in period.

Please note- Avoid unnecessary oil changes as it is also a kind of pollution and an oil change without the filter change doesn't serve much purpose.

2) Extreme break-in: This has got to be a joke. There's no such thing as extreme break-in. I'll just give a brief explanation. The walls of a cylinder liner aren't supposed to be smooth but are supposed to have channels so that an oil layer forms on the walls, which if the walls were smooth would just slide down, hence an oil film would not be formed. The oil layer is required to reduce friction, which will increase the life of the components. The piston rings in the same way also have channels and these channels need to match the profile of the liner to form a good seal. The matching of profiles or bedding in of the rings and liner is called break in. In the beginning both the rings and the cylinder walls profiles don’t match and if we subject them to high RPM and consequently higher peak pressures, then it will result in bigger chunks of metal falling off and the bedding in will not be proper. You can just imagine if we take two rough files and start rubbing them against each other vigorously under pressure, then what will happen!

3) ICE manual in some other language- Well I read a lot of this in a lot of threads. And the problem according to me comes because owners’ don’t go through the users manual entirely. The manual for the ICE is given in the end. The card that is in other language is its warranty card!

4) The ACC- there have been principally two main doubts-
i) It starts in fresh air mode- That is not correct. In full auto the air circulation is in auto and not in fresh air mode, which means that the air circulation will be varied according to the set parameters. And that is something, which is mentioned in the manual. If one toggles the circulation mode from the auto mode then it is not controlled by the computer and remains in that position. And all those people who forget to switch on recirculation then don’t fret as in these hot times the ACC’s would most probably be running in recirculation mode only.
ii) Cabin turning hot as soon as compressor is switched off- This is again something which is clearly mentioned in the manual. When the compressor is switched off the air circulation automatically switches to fresh air mode. And one can also see the arrow's direction change in the ACC display also. The reason given for this is to prevent misting up. Anyway if just 8-10 seconds of fresh air is enough to warm the cabin then you can imagine how hot it must be outside and how well the ACC manages to cool the cabin.

5) Braking the new brakes hard to get rid of brake squealing noise- well, the manual says that avoid hard, prolonged and constant braking in the first 500 Km to let the pads bed in better. So we never did it and actually we never had any issues with the brakes making any noise!

Doubts that I have:

The manual states that the ACC airflow can be directed in 7 ways. But I have been able to direct it in only 5 ways. The ones that that are not happening are all three together (feet, face and windshield) and face and windshield together. Can anyone roger me on that?

There's a small thread with a loop at its end hanging inside the boot near the fuel cap. I pulled it and the fuel cap opened but this is something, which I have not come across in the manual or this forum. Maybe it's a backup but has anyone else noticed it?

Endnote: Well I'll end up doing what all the magazines and auto shows ended up doing- recommending it. So all those who are planning to buy Linea, I can only tell you to go through it with your eyes closed. You wont regret it. There have been talks of poor A.S.S and poor resale value for Fiats but if you really want a good car then forget all that. I have had no problems with that or the car till now and there is no reason that you would.

Dad has gone out of station and has taken the camera with him so I don't have any pictures till now. I’ll try taking some from a cell phone and then upload it.

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Last edited by Rudra Sen : 22nd August 2009 at 07:56.
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Old 22nd August 2009, 08:57   #2
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Well its just Linea and Punto monsoon here. Anyways, wonderful report on all accounts - choosing, buying, owning, liking, disliking, etc. Congrats on the buy. I hope with time, Fiat's image would slowly improve.
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Old 22nd August 2009, 09:31   #3
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Congrats and welcome to the TBHP Linea club.
Very nicely written detailed review too.

OT: So may people (Linea owners including myself) complain about TATAs average A$$ and skills.
TATA is 3rd largest passenger carmaker; are people who bought TATA vehicles cursing themselves too regarding poor A$$?
Or it's just Fiat vehicles that the TASS aren't able to service efficiently?
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Old 22nd August 2009, 09:53   #4
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Nicely written review!
@neo.... most of the fence sitters here have nothing bad apart from service to say about the Linea and even that is a fallacy. Other car makers dont fare too better. It all depends on the dealer and the service staff.
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Old 22nd August 2009, 10:45   #5
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Congrats paaji. Am waiting for Punto to be made available in CSD. Have written a mail to Fiat, they say will take a month. Wait is killing!
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Old 22nd August 2009, 10:50   #6
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Congrats on your Linea. It was very well written review and purchase experience.
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Old 22nd August 2009, 11:22   #7
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Congarts FirstGuri,

Welcome to Linea Club and well written.
Already all issues and features in last para has been identified and fixed .Please go through all Linea threads.you can find solutions.

Enjoy and Drive Safe
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Old 22nd August 2009, 11:31   #8
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A brilliant and through review!!

GTO: You have competition. Next time you go out to review a car, please take paji along with you
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Old 22nd August 2009, 11:41   #9
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Firstguri - a very detailed & nicely written review

congrats on your Linea & enjoy her to the fullest !!
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Old 22nd August 2009, 13:02   #10
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Simply beauiful and informative review, very distinctive and original. I read it in one go, liked the full BDLC ( Buying Driving Life Cycle)

Thanks Paaji.
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Old 22nd August 2009, 13:49   #11
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Firstguri, congrats for joining linean's club and your review is true and correct, is my feeling.
We will wait for pics, till then enjoy your beaut.
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Old 22nd August 2009, 13:59   #12
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Congarts FirstGuri. Very passionately written. Enjoy the beauty.
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Old 22nd August 2009, 14:40   #13
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Originally Posted by firstguri View Post
Cramped foot well- pedals are widely spaced hampering heel and toe technique. It hardly leaves any space between the clutch and the dead pedal, which is very inconvenient.

Yeah the dead pedal design is pretty odd. It is too big and is angled pretty uncomfortably. Since it is very big, there is little space between the dead pedal and the accelerator. Can this be changed later?
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Old 22nd August 2009, 17:24   #14
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Originally Posted by firstguri View Post
were left with Linea and ANHC.
There's a small thread with a loop at its end hanging inside the boot near the fuel cap. I pulled it and the fuel cap opened but this is something, which I have not come across in the manual or this forum. Maybe it's a backup but has anyone else noticed it?
This has been brought out by sunilrj in one of the threads.
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Old 22nd August 2009, 21:26   #15
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Congrats Firstguri - enjoy the linea ride and the admiration!

Have fun, dude! Take the rough with the smooth- the tata bits with the fiat
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