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Time to let go of my 91,000 km run Fiat Linea: Need replacement options

Even though I love driving this car, it has broken down multiple times & left me & my family stranded.

BHPian sparameswaran recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

I am, finally, considering replacing my Fiat Linea T Jet Emotion (2014).

I bought the 2014 updated version after much deliberation and I had shared the thought process behind choosing the T Jet (over the competition) with the initial ownership review on T-BHP.

I owned a (pre-worshipped) Maruti Baleno sedan before the T Jet.

I must admit that I love driving the T Jet. The odo stands at 91,200 kms as of yesterday, almost entirely driven by yours faithfully (less than 5000 kms driven by a driver and my brother).

The car still feels like new. The engine shows no signs of age (I was meticulous with servicing and despite the Fiat service centre closing down in Pondicherry within a year after I bought the car, I ensured the car was serviced only at authorised service centres all these years, though I went as far as Salem to ensure this one).

No rattles, whatsoever. The only thing which makes me feel the car is 'old' is that the working of the steering mounted controls on the right side is erratic for some time now.

The fact that I bought a car like this at 9.4 lakhs on road less than 9 years back feels unbelievable now. Look at what all the T Jet had on offer at that price point:

  • A proper (full) sedan with a solid build quality
  • All 4 disc brakes
  • 205 55R16 tyres with alloy wheels
  • Cruise control
  • Auto headlamps, Rain sensing wipers
  • Blue & Me (Bluetooth connectivity)
  • Rear parking sensors (no camera, though)
  • Automatic climate control, Rear AC vents
  • A suspension which eliminates rough roads at high speeds
  • Spacious boot with the boot hinges having a unique design maximising space available
  • An involving driving experience - the car feels 'planted' (often described as 'being on rails' in t-bhp jargon), extremely stable at high speeds, hydraulic steering step up providing a great feel of the road, a mid-range which is an experience in itself (lightning fast overtakes)
  • Small but significant (usable) features like Follow me home headlamps, mirrors (with lid and light) on sun visors for both driver and co-passenger, a usable hand rest, individual door & boot open warning display (specifies which door is open), customisable speed limit warning notification, single touch open and shut function for driver side window

Mileage was, obviously, not great. The highway mileage used to be between 12 - 13km/l. And this dipped to as low as 6-8km/l with short runs inside the town.

I intended to keep the car as long as I can because it doesn't make sense to me to change cars often, esp something like the T Jet. However, the car has left me stranded 'in the middle of nowhere not once, but five times so far, the last being yesterday.

The alternator seems to be the 'Achilles' heel' of the T Jet.

It first failed about 5 years back (when 3 years old). When it failed the first time, it was while I was in town and hence I was spared the experience of getting stuck on the road. The lack of a service centre in Pondy gave me a LOT of trouble then, but finally, the alternator was replaced at RamKay Fiat in Chennai (the horrible experience was chronicled on T-BHP by me and you can read it here) and the car was back with me after a month.

Then it failed again about 2.5 years back, leaving me stranded on a rainy day somewhere between Uthamapalayam and Cumbam in TN, on my way to Kerala. That resulted in an ordeal; the only positive part was the service experience at Hyson Jeep Service, Kottayam.

And it failed again yesterday, stranding me and my family on the road, again on a rainy day, in Kerala. Worst of all, I was on a quick 3-day trip to Kerala and this has spoiled my plans and schedule.

This is in addition to two other episodes where I got stranded on the highway, one with a (dual) tyre burst episode (near the Kuthiran ghat between Palakkad & Thrissur (Kerala) and another fuel line leak episode (Koothattukulam).

Finally, I am thinking 'enough is enough'. Getting stuck on the road with family (including a very small child) in unfamiliar, distant places, in inclement weather and with no easy way to resolve the situation is the worst you can ask for while travelling with family. Esp if it has happened more than once.

So, I am looking for a worthy replacement, which is RELIABLE too.

Having faced hardships with Fiat service where I live, I want the car to have a service centre in Pondicherry (which will not shut down in near future). This includes Maruti, Hyundai, Tata, Mahindra, Kia, Volkswagen, Skoda, Toyota, Renault & Nissan.

So, here are my 'requirements':

  • A driver's car
  • Reliable
  • Safe
  • Service available in Pondicherry itself
  • Would prefer to have the features which were there in my T Jet (any extra creature comfort is welcome). Specifically, cruise control is an absolute must.
  • Preferably a sedan, willing to consider other options if worthy

Resale value and mileage are good to have, but not the primary concern. I am willing to compromise on these if I have to do that to avail the above-listed requirements.

It will be helpful if the replacement car has more space than the T Jet. We always use a child seat and because of this, seating two adults on the rear seat is really difficult. With the car seat in place, only one adult can sit comfortably at the rear. This is a problem because we are a family of five, including my parents. Family trips are uncomfortable for the two adults in the rear seat.

I also own an Ignis Alpha AMT, which is my wife's daily commute. I don't use a car on a daily basis and I walk to work. The T Jet was primarily a highway car used for outstation trips and the same can be expected for the new drive too.

I haven't really shortlisted cars yet. To be honest, my heart says "get the Octavia"! But my brain tells me "don't even think about it" because the ownership experience of the T Jet was marred by poor service (Skoda service also has a poor reputation) and mechanical issues (reliability issues with the DSG in VAG cars).

My better half, who drives only because she needs to, is very 'practical minded' and has been asking me to get rid of the T Jet and go for an Innova Crysta, for some time now.

My original plan was to wait for a few years more hoping that an EV with a good range (600kms or more) will be arriving in the market by then and to replace my T Jet with the EV then.

So, here are a few questions:

  • Does any of you think that I should just replace the alternator and retain the T Jet hoping that this issue will not recur?
  • I have been closely tracking the launch of Slavia & Virtus, but am not convinced it will be an upgrade over the T Jet. Is this a reasonable assessment?
  • My idea of a car is a sedan. Ground clearance was never an issue with T Jet. Hence still not convinced I need to get an SUV. But is there a proper sedan in the market which is a worthy upgrade and which meets the above-listed requirements other than the Octavia? But is Octavia more spacious than the T Jet?
  • Does it make sense to go for the Innova Crysta (no idea how it drives), by a 'sedan' guy like me?

Soliciting all fellow car lovers' inputs to help me replace my T Jet with a worthy successor!

Thanks in advance!

Here's what GTO had to say about the matter:

Indeed, it's time to let the T-Jet go. Fiat's long-term reliability can be shaky.

IMHO, you should get:

  • Jeep Compass. It's the spiritual successor to the Punto / Linea. On Team-BHP itself, you will see many ex-Fiat owners getting the Compass (most recent being Crazy Driver). It's a very satisfying car to own & drive, especially on the open road. But the rear seat won't accommodate your parents and a child seat.
  • Mahindra XUV700. You'll be surprised at how competent the car is. It is mechanically solid, but I would prefer waiting a year for all niggles to be ironed out (the waiting for good variants is anyway that long). Get the Diesel AT or Petrol AT.
  • Octavia would be awesome, but it won't give you the reliability you desire + the usual Skoda headaches. Personally, I am okay with enduring 4 days of pain a year in exchange for 361 days of driving pleasure. But everyone has their own preferences, so decide for yourself.
  • Since you are considering the Innova, let me recommend the Carnival to you. It is absolutely brilliant & luxurious. You will enjoy the drive (superb engine + gearbox), while your parents, wife & kid will be enamoured by the sheer space & luxury. There is no highway limousine like the Kia Carnival and I would buy it over many 60-70 lakh German SUVs. If I needed the space, a Carnival would already be parked down my house.
  • If you want something for ~20 lakhs or under, get the Slavia 1.5 or the City. Both are fun to drive.

Happy shopping!

Here's what BHPian keroo1099 had to say about the matter:

IMHO, you really need to spend big bucks to upgrade from the Jet. It's a very hard car to replace when one considers what it does for what it cost. I will eventually be in the same boat as you (2014 facelifted version) and shudder to think of how much I will have to dole out on the replacement.

The Innova Crysta is probably the most sensible option, but will it give you the same driving pleasure, I really don't know.

I TD the Octavia, but honestly didn't find it enough of an upgrade and I didn't like the DSG guillotine hanging over my head.

Since you have no issues with the car except for the alternator (failing 3 times in 8 years is a bit much), I would suggest taking the car to Tru Sai Salem and getting it completely checked out. I haven't used Tru Sai personally, but have many friends who have and swear by the work done there.

Here's what BHPian GBX had to say about the matter:

"A difficult car to upgrade from"

Exactly what an enthusiast should hear. Kudos on a choice well made.

Virtus/Slavia are definitely worth considering. Not only does it have a decade of progress over the T-jet, it still has enough to offer to enthusiasts. In fact, the only area you are compromising on is rear discs, but I'm sure overall braking would still be better. And the 1.5L will definitely be appreciated by turbo petrol enthusiasts like you.

Another option usually considered by Fiat fans is the Jeep Compass. Although a totally different segment, you're still in the same family so to speak.

The Compass is an excellent car, and definitely worth a test drive. Turbo petrol is let down by the DCT, but it's not a deal-breaker. Diesel is lovely, of course. This is a better choice than an Innova IMO.

And Octavia, if you are considering it, is a no brainer. One of the best cars in the market right now, and punches far above its weight. It's another car that you will struggle to replace.

As for reliability, the DQ381 gearbox is much more reliable than the DQ200 we keep hearing about. Plus, an extended warranty is available.

Do a TD for all of these and go for it.

Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.

 
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