The New Fiat Linea

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More Space. More Style. More Fiat.

It’s often said that you can judge a person by the company they keep. Well, if this maxim holds true for cars, then the all-new Fiat Linea is exceptional. In procuring the 2009 Indian Car of the Year title (Autocar India) and the Autobest 2008 award (representing 15 European countries), the Fiat Linea successfully fended off contenders like the Hyundai i20, Kia Cee’d, Mazda 2, Skoda Fabia and Toyota Corolla. No easy feat, but then the Linea is one top-notch package.

This three-box Segment C sedan gives a new interpretation of practicality, styling and driver enjoyment, all for an extremely competitive price to contents ratio. Or, as Oscar Rivoli, Managing Director of Fiat Group Automobiles South Africa, puts it: “Bang for buck on the style, space and gadget scale, you don’t get any better than the Linea.”

Manufactured in Turkey, India and Brazil, the newcomer is already a strategic car for the Fiat brand in these markets, but it’s worth noting that the Linea is also marketed in some key Eurozone countries like Spain, Germany and Finland. Its debut in South Africa will mark the return of a family-oriented notchback in the Fiat line-up with a strong bias towards value for money. Initially launching with just one model variant, there are plans to expand the range in the future by offering additional engine options.

More Style

Unmistakably Italian, the new Linea is also unmistakably Fiat. Family characteristics like the tear-drop shaped headlights, forward sloping windscreen and protruding front end (featuring standard front foglights) which debuted with the Grande Punto and continued with the Bravo, have been incorporated into the Linea’s design DNA.

What’s more, the sharply raked windscreen and the pronounced bonnet are accentuated and homogeneous: because there is no distinct break between them, they appear to be the continuation of the same line, a characteristic that highlights the dynamism of the Linea. On the side the styling is cut through by a ‘slash’ which starts from the middle of the wheelarch and dissolves into the rear, emphasising the car’s dynamic look.

The muscular wheelarches lend the Fiat Linea an air of strength and solidity, reinforced by the standard 15-inch alloy wheels. That same reassuring impression is conveyed by the rear end, with its elegant uncluttered line. Finishing touches include chrome accents on the front grille, around the fog lights, on the bumpers, door handles and side mouldings.

More Space

Proposed with a single body type, the Linea conveys an impression of solidity, robustness and roominess, which is confirmed by the generous dimensions: it is 4560 mm long, 1730 mm wide (excluding mirrors) and 1487 mm tall, with a wheelbase of 2603 mm, measurements that put it at the top of its category.

The lines that run inside the passenger compartment are harmonious and well balanced with the external lines, which combine with the generous glazing to create a friendly, light-filled environment that guarantees excellent interior roominess, and more comfort than you might expect from a conventional 3-box saloon in terms of ergonomics and space for the driver and passengers. The concept of comfort also means enjoying good external visibility, enhanced by the generous size of the wing mirrors.

The Fiat Linea has designed comfortable seating for people of all shapes and sizes. For example, at the front, the combination of a driver’s seat that can be raised and a steering wheel that adjusts for height and reach, produces excellent values of roominess as well as an ideal driving position (accommodating drivers from 1.5- to about 2 metres tall).

Even if the driver himself is tall, there is still room for an equally tall passenger to sit comfortably behind him. And this does not detract from the luggage capacity which is 500 litres in the normal configuration (one of the largest in its category). And if the space is still not sufficient, the rear seat will fold down to create an enormous loading area measuring 1175 litres up to the ceiling.

Driving is made particularly enjoyable by the position of the pedals, the steering wheel alignment, the position of the armrest and footrest, the excellent manoeuvring of the gearshift and the perfect visibility of the instrumentation and the main controls.

The instrument panel designed by Magneti Marelli has a clear family feeling with the latest Fiat models thanks to the large, clearly visible characters, while the graphics of the instrumentation make the information easily and immediately legible. At night, the orange illumination allows the pupil to focus more rapidly when alternating between the dark of the road outside and the luminosity of the dashboard.

The front and rear seats of the Fiat Linea merit special mention. They were designed to guarantee the best level of comfort for every passenger percentile, by close collaboration with the top ergonomic and sport medicine specialists. To start with, to enhance comfort, and above all the absorption of vibration, the front seats feature a new lumbar support system which sustains the back better.

The front seats are padded with foam that adapts to the shape of the body, and incorporate an anti-submarining structure which prevents the body from sliding forward, under the seat-belt, in a violent frontal impact. The rear seat also incorporates an anti-submarining structure and padding with differentiated support depending on the part of the seat occupied (it is a parameter that measures the compression of the padding under the weight of the body). The rear seats are fitted with Isofix attachments for child seats, while head-restraints for all three passengers are standard.

More Pace

Engine

The Linea is powered by a new engine which has a capacity of 1368 cc, and 4 cylinders in line, with a bore of 72 mm and stroke of 84 mm. There are four valves per cylinder, activated directly by two overhead camshafts.

The engine was developed paying particular attention to performance and to fuel economy, two areas in which the Fiat Linea leads its class. Praise goes to the volumetric efficiency which has been optimised all through the operating range, the result of precise fluid-dynamic development of the entire intake system and the timing. The engine delivers 66 kW at 6000 rpm, and peak torque of 115 Nm at 4500 rpm.

With this engine, the Fiat Linea has a top speed of 165 km/h, and accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 16.62 seconds. Consumption is among the best in this class: 10 l/100 km in the urban cycle, 6.6 l/100 km out of town and 7.8 l/100 km in the combined cycle.

A sparkling engine that is sparing on fuel – this has been achieved by the adoption of an electronic throttle valve control system known as ‘drive by wire’, and a new high turbulence combustion chamber, combined with continuous variable valve timing governed by the control unit.

This innovative system allows a consistent part of the exhaust gases (about 25%) to be ‘recirculated’ in the combustion chamber, significantly reducing fuel consumption and exhaust emissions when driving with a partial load.

The engine also proposes a number of features designed to reduce consumption. For example, the timing components have been made lighter and the valve springs are of the low load type, to reduce friction.

Also unique to the new 66kW 1.4 engine are the increased compression ratio (10.8:1) and the high torque values at low speeds, characteristics that make it possible to limit fuel consumption.

This target was made possible by the calibration of the latest generation engine control unit, which keeps fuel consumption very low, compatible with the demand for drivability, performance and emissions.

We should underline that the 1.4 Fire engine is in line with Euro 4 legislation, with a catalytic converter positioned in the engine bay (and welded to the exhaust manifold flange using a new technology) which reaches very high temperatures faster, thus reducing emissions even while the engine is warming up. To minimise the environmental impact, the engine also incorporates a ‘returnless’ fuel supply system, which eliminates fuel recirculation within the tank, thus reducing vapour formation. The CO2 emissions are pegged at 168 grams per km.

Steady performance, lean on fuel and clean: to these winning features the 1.4 Fire engine also adds excellent acoustic comfort, underlined by the adoption of a flexible flywheel which minimises the vibration transferred from the engine to the bodyshell.

Suspension

One of the goals set by the designers who developed the Fiat Linea was to create a suspension system that would offer performance comparable with that of a higher class of car, adopting devices that guaranteed easy, pinpoint steering, excellent roadholding and the best comfort possible for passengers. The choice went to two systems that had already been used on other Fiat models, suitably modified and updated.

At the front, the Fiat Linea adopts an independent MacPherson layout, in which the shock absorbers and springs act as both damping and elastic elements and as structural and kinematic elements (the front and rear dampers are supplied by Magneti Marelli).

The main components of this layout are the twin-shell wishbones made of pressed sheet metal (using the patented ‘butterfly’ system), which means a significant weight reduction, and the adoption of bushes with more rubber to improve comfort (absorbing more roughness) while guaranteeing excellent roadholding and stability on corners. The new model also introduces a number of extremely interesting elements, such as an aluminium front suspension crossbeam with high structural rigidity.

The rear suspension is a semi-independent system with interconnected wheels and a torsion axle, built around a new anti-roll bar with small con rods anchored to the dampers, for a greater stabilising effect and prompter dynamic response when cornering.

The particular shape of the torsion axle made it possible to obtain a stabilising anti-roll effect even without an anti-roll bar. That is not all. The vertical position of the dampers, which are anchored inside the wheelarch, also filters out road roughness, enhancing acoustic comfort inside the car.

The rear axle is made up of lateral links pressed in two half shells, welded to a lateral torsion profile with a cylindrical heading to the actual links. And finally, the large rear axle attachment bushes guarantee suspension flexibility even under greater longitudinal loads, while the particular shape of the damping elements ensures prompt dynamic response on bends.

More Fiat

With its array of exclusive equipment, the Fiat Linea is a miniature flagship, featuring a cockpit that is enjoyable in any situation or climate. The new model offers a level of standard equipment usually only seen in cars costing twice as much.

A few examples of these creature comforts include a fully automatic climate control system, electrochromatic rear view mirror (electronically dims when required), rear sun blinds (manual), leather steering wheel and gear knob, front seat back pockets, front and rear armrests (both featuring oddment compartments and cupholders in the rear), sunglass holder, electric mirrors with demist function, external temperature sensor, Fiat’s unique Blue&Me®* telematics system as well as audio and Bluetooth satellite controls on the steering wheel.

Of course, it goes without saying, that all the normal accoutrements (and then some) are present and accounted for: power steering, power windows all round with kiddie lock, remote central locking with autolock, adjustable headlamps, stereo system with CD and MP3 player, trip computer and a height-adjustable driver’s seat.

The Linea is no shrinking violet when it comes to safety kit either – ABS with EBD, dual front airbags (featuring the ‘Air-Bag Smart 2’* system), rolling-code immobiliser, Isofix attachments for the rear seats, seat belt reminder and follow-me-home lights all form part of the standard safety arsenal.

Thanks to all these features that the Linea carries as standard, the only cost options are metallic paint (R1 500 incl.) and leather seats (R9 000 incl.).

*More Detail

Blue&Me® infotelematic system

The Fiat Linea comes standard with the innovative Blue&Me® system, based on the Windows Mobile technology, developed by Fiat Group Automobiles and Microsoft, which changes the communication, information and entertainment standards in the car, improving comfort and the quality of life on board.

The device is easy to use and Bluetooth® technology allows you to make and receive telephone calls and listen to music simply and safely as you drive, communicating with the outside world from the car via your personal devices such as cell phones and PDAs.

The Blue&Me® device incorporates a refined hands-free system with voice recognition, which guarantees maximum driving safety in all conditions and with full respect for the law, because the driver can use it without taking his hands off the wheel.

The system allows a customer with a Bluetooth® cell phone to use it, without taking it out of his pocket or bag, and it automatically lowers the radio volume (if this is on) and transmits the interlocutor’s voice through the stereo speakers. What is more, the system is fully compatible with cell phones on the market today, and may be upgraded to comply with new standards and future telephones.

The Blue&Me® device is built into the car and the control keys are on the steering wheel, so that you can search for a number in the phonebook by scrolling through the display on the instrument panel, or ‘mute’ the communication for a more confidential conversation.

The main features include the fact that a cell phone only has to be registered once on the system, and the whole phonebook can be transferred to the car, being automatically updated every time the system recognises the cell phone.

Privacy is guaranteed because access to the phonebook is only granted when the telephone registered with the system is present. The display shows the number or name of the person calling if this is recognised by the phonebook, and it is possible to formulate a number ‘vocally’ by dictating it digit by digit, or to call a person by saying the name, if it is memorised.

And, thanks to an advanced voice recognition process, no voice learning process is necessary. The device is able to memorise up to 5 cell phones, thus granting several users of a single car immediate use of the hands-free system; the programming can obviously be modified whenever necessary. And with the hands-free system with voice recognition, it is even possible to reproduce personal telephone call tones through the car radio.

We have described the hands-free system with voice recognition, but there are other features to the innovative Blue&Me® system: it allows you to listen to your favourite music recorded on a cell phone, new smart phone, an MP3 player or a USB pen drive. This is made possible by the presence of a USB port in the glove compartment, which can connect to any digital device with a similar port.

This allows musical audio files (MP3, WMA and WAV) to be played through the stereo system. And because all the information is visible on the instrument panel display, the customer can browse the system archive (divided by type, album, artist, etc.) either vocally or using the steering wheel controls, and select a piece using the steering wheel controls.

Air-Bag Smart 2 system

Complete protection, intelligent protection. In a head-on impact, occupants are protected by an innovative restraint system known as ‘Air-Bag Smart 2’, because it automatically adapts the activation parameters according to the severity of the accident. The two front airbags for the driver and passenger adopt a different logic from conventional airbags.

Until now, when the airbags were activated, they inflated simultaneously up to their maximum limit, which was established to safeguard occupants during severe impacts. The Fiat Linea, on the other hand, adopts front airbags with dual-stage activation; this means that the system only activates the first of the two stages when the impact is of moderate strength, but activates both in the event of a more serious collision.

The two stages can also be activated with different sequences depending on the type of impact. In any case, the bridles inside the bags guarantee that the maximum dimensions and the shape taken by the cushions are as non-invasive as possible for passengers. The front passenger airbag can obviously be de-activated (using the menu on the control panel), so that a child can be carried in a safety seat facing backwards on the front seat (the pre-tensioner on the other hand remains active).

The sensors of the ‘Air-Bag Smart 2’ system also control the activation of the seat-belt pre-tensioners. The Fiat Linea is fitted with front seat-belts that are each complete with an inertia reel, pre-tensioner and load limiter.

On impact, the electronically controlled pyrotechnic pre-tensioner retracts the belt in a few milliseconds, so that it adheres perfectly to the body. The load limiters are positioned inside the inertia reels, and they yield in a controlled manner, metering the force exercised by the belt on the shoulder of the person wearing it.

More Spec (Technical)

  • Engine    1.4 – 16v – 66kW
  • No. of cylinders, arrangement    4, in line, front trasv.
  • No. of valves    4
  • Bore x stroke (mm)    72.0 x 84.0
  • Capacity (cc)    1368
  • Emissions compliance    Euro 3
  • Compression ratio    10.8:1
  • Max. power output: kW    66kW at rpm    6000
  • Max. torque: Nm-EC    115 at rpm    4500
  • Timing gear (control)    1 OHC
  • Toothed timing belt
  • Fuel supply    MPI phased sequential electronic
  • Ignition Static with digital electronic control

Transmission

  • Drive front
  • Clutch control hydraulic
  • Gearbox, no. of speeds 5 + reverse

Gearbox:

  • 1st 4.273 : 1
  • 2nd 2.238 : 1
  • 3rd 1.520 : 1
  • 4th 1.156 : 1
  • 5th 0.872 : 1
  • Reverse    3.909 : 1

Gearbox family    C510

  • Final ratio 4.4 : 1

Steering

  • Type rack and pinion with
  • hydraulic power steering
  • Turning circle (m)    11.1

Brakes

  • Front: (mm) Disc 257 x 22 (ventilated)
  • Rear: (mm) Drum 228 x 40

Suspension

  • Front independent MacPherson type, double-acting telescopic dampers and stabiliser bar
  • Rear torsion axle, telescopic hydraulic dampers

Measurements

  • Wheelbase (mm) 2603
  • Front/rear track (mm) front 1471 / rear 1483
  • Length / Width / Height (m) 4560 / 1730 (excl. mirrors) / 1487
  • Luggage capacity VDA (dm3) 500

Wheels

  • Alloy wheels (15″) 195/60 R15
  • Weights – supplies
  • Unladen (kg) 1240
  • Max. weight towable (kg)
  • braked / unbraked 500 / 1200
  • Fuel tank capacity (litres) 45

Performance

  • Top speed (km/h) 165
  • Acceleration (sec.): 0 to 100 km/h 16.62
  • EC Consumption (l/100 km) as per EC Directive 1999/100 urban cycle 10.0 out of town    6.6 combined cycle 7.8 CO2 exhaust emissions (g/km) 168

For standard equipment and options please see attached ‘Linea Spec’ doc

More for your money

  • Fiat Linea 1.4i Emotion     –    R175 000 (incl. VAT)

Enhancing the ownership prospect, the new Fiat Linea has 20 000 km service intervals and enjoys full after-sales support in South Africa thanks to a comprehensive parts inventory (housed and distributed in an all-new, state-of-the-art facility) and the back-up of trained technicians at Fiat dealerships countrywide.

Fiat Auto South Africa offers a three-year 100 000 km Warranty (three years on paintwork and five years on rust anti-perforation) as well as a standard three-year 60 000 km service plan.

As with other models in the Fiat stable, the new model is covered by the AA Fleetcare roadside assistance for 12 months. The service is active 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and is available by calling the dedicated toll-free number 0800 223 727.