Fiat has released an all new much more powerful Linea to its line up and will be powered by its new T-Jet engine. The T-Jet version of the Linea has been introduced as the new flagship vehicle of Fiat in India. Turbochargers have not been an uncommon part of vehicles in India, but until recently there were mainly confined to diesel engines. That mindset is fast changing and with the prices of fuel continuing to stay high it is even more paramount now that there are cars that manufacture petrol engine that also run with turbochargers.
Turbochargers are like spices in a curry. No curry is complete without spices and they add that extra bit of punch to the dish. In the same way turbochargers these days add that extra bit of zest and power to petrol engines. In countries were car owners are not as fuel conscious as us in India, turbos have adorned engines for a while in order to get that extra bit of power generated. If one was not enough then two or more were employed as there was never enough power.
It is all well to slap a turbo onto a large engine, but the trend has been changing when it comes to the smaller displacement engines as well. This is because there are greater gains to be had from turbocharged smaller engines as the increased power output combined with the already efficient engines leads to space saving and weigh saving in smaller vehicles, which can be very paramount. Also as emission regulations are getting stricter and fuel prices are rising, the lower emission, smaller engines seem to be the way forward.
Until recently the only petrol car of note that employed a turbocharger was Skoda’s Octavia vRS and even more recently the Laura TSI. But now smaller 1.2 liter petrol engines fitted with turbos are capable of producing about 100 PS. The Fiat Linea is the first car in the C-segment to offer a turbocharged engine as the heart of the vehicle, but the engine is not the only upgrade from the normal Linea petrol. There are about a dozen more improvements that Fiat has made to its new flagship vehicle.
The Fiat Linea since its launch has always been considered quite a looker with typically Italian styling and seductive lines embellishing the vehicle and its driving dynamics have also been commended. So far the engine of choice has also been the MultiJet Diesel as the 1.4 liter FIRE petrol driven engine was just way too underpowered at 90 PS for a car of this size. Installing the turbo sorted out this issue making the car stand out in the C-segment. The new 1.4 liter turbocharged FIRE engine now produces around 114 PS of power but the biggest improvement is in the maximum torque it generates of 207 Nm at a modest 2,200 rpm. This represents a big gain over the normally aspirated petrol engine which produces 115 Nm of torque putting it in the diesel category. The increase in the torque should improve low-end power and add that punch to the vehicle at low speeds as well as enhance the drivability of the Fiat Linea. One criticism of the new engine though is that for the Indian market it has been tuned down as opposed to the 120 PS of power and 260 Nm of torque the international version produces.
What makes the new Fiat Linea tick is the fact that engineers have not just added the turbo to the 1.4 FIRE engine and left it at that. The engine although quite similar with shared engine blocks has a different head. The T-Jet uses a reworked head with a steel crankshaft and stronger piston heads to be able to handle the extra torque. The gearbox has not been left out and also has strengthened improvements and overall the engine also meets Euro 5 specifications. Currently the base engine is being imported from Fiat’s plant in Brazil, but if demand increases in India then Fiat Powertrain Technologies (FPT) does not rule out the possibility of it being produced in the country.
Driving the car around the roads of Aamby Valley gave us the chance to put the new Fiat Linea through its paces. Firstly the usual fear of stalling the car (like the other manual petrol – the Laura) was absent. Releasing the clutch allows the car to smoothly pick up speed and it is hard to resist flooring it, which was duly done in second gear. At around 2000 rpm u wait for the turbo to kick in and knock you back in your seat but instead there is only a smooth transfer of power that glides the car quickly forward. The new engine is tuned to deliver good power at the low-end and this is very linear.
Shifting through gears allows the engine to transfer power smoothly and the car picks up speed quite rapidly. The new Linea T-Jet is considerably faster than the normal petrol engine and get to the 100 kmph mar in just over 11 seconds, which is a whole 4 seconds faster than the normal petrol version. The top speed of the car has also increased to around 187 kmph and these improvements translate to better fuel efficiency figures of 10.5 km/l in the city and around 17.6 km/l on the highway.
Another first for the segment is the introduction of disc brakes at the front and rear of the car and the straight road of the Aamby Valley area was the perfect place to test out the braking of the Linea. Buyers will be happy to know that braking has been tremendously enhanced by the introduction of the disc brakes and this inspires a lot of confidence while driving, even if you have to brake from a high speed suddenly to a standstill. Ground clearance in the new T-Jet is also better with the car being 5mm higher than before at 170mm.
When Fiat launched the petrol Linea it faced some criticism with regards to its interiors, with observers feeling the inside did not match up to the exacting standards of the exterior. Fiat has taken these feedbacks into consideration and the T-Jet now uses better quality of materials to furnish the inside of the car. The dashboard is now a two-tone affair, with nicely contrasting dark grey and a lighter beige color giving the inside a much richer feel. The central console also looks more refined with the introduction of some well placed chrome inserts giving the driver a sense of a more expensive vehicle. The older cheaper looking finish to the centre console has been replaced with a better looking shade of gold that further improves the interior look of the vehicle.
The cabin of the Fiat Linea T-Jet is very spacious and provides ample head as well as legroom for all occupants, but what owners will like the best is the inclusion of leather seats to the T-Jet trim. These seats provide the final touch to the rich aspect of the interiors and complete the transformation in the new T-Jet.
The Linea T-Jet will only come in the full Emotion specs and this will include power windows on all doors with auto-down feature, front dual passenger airbags, chrome exhaust pipe tip and rear seat audio controls for rear seat occupants all as standard. The T-Jet will also were sporty 16-inch multi-spoke alloy wheels with 205/50 tires to enhance grip and handling. As an option the Fiat Linea T-Jet comes with a rear boot spoiler to augment its sporty nature.
Pricing of the T-Jet is one of the best aspects of the vehicle and has allowed Fiat to gain a good foothold in the segment. The T-Jet will start from around Rs. 8.84 lakhs with the ‘plus’ trim available for around Rs. 8.99 lakhs. Prices will vary though depending on location in India as these are ex-Delhi prices. Coming in at about one lakh rupees more than the normal petrol Linea, the T-Jet feels like the car the first Linea version should have been. It seems as though the best option for Fiat would be to do away with the normal petrol version as quality has improved greatly along with performance, handling and driving dynamics. The new engine does its job superbly of making the car more fun to drive now and will no doubt have potential buyer flocking to Fiat showrooms for their free test drives. As the tag line for the Linea T-Jet goes, this is ‘Admiration Guaranteed’.
Fiat Linea T-Jet Specification
Vehicle Category: sedan
Engines (standard): 1.4 L, turbocharged, inline 4 cyl, 114.2 PS, 207 Nm torque
Drive train: 5 passenger, Front engine, 5-door sedan, FWD
Transmissions (standard): 5-speed manual
Curb Weight: 1684 kg
0-100 kph: 11.08 secs (est.)
Mileage city/hwy: 10.5 / 17.6 kmpl
Base Price: Rs. 8.84 – 8.99 Lakh (est)