The Fiat Linea is a competent machine no doubt, but it’s getting quite long in the tooth. After all, any car that’s been on sale for over a decade gets there sooner rather than later. The Grande Punto, on which it’s based, was introduced internationally in the year 2005. That explains a lot of the ergonomic issues with the car. But the good thing is that Fiat hasn’t been sitting idle. The front door pockets now accept bottles, and that long outdated stereo has been replaced by a modern touch screen infotainment system. But since there’s no change to its dual-DIN housing, the screen is a mere 5-inches long. So, it’s not quite there then.
But we don’t think that’s reason enough to dismiss the Linea, for the car always had a lot going for it. The seats have always been very well designed, the suspension is excellent at high speeds over our undulating roads, and that steering wheel – which could have been angled better – just feels right to hold.
And this particular model, badged the 125S, is the best Linea to date. Its 1.4-litre, turbo petrol engine now churns out 123bhp at 5,000rpm and 208Nm of peak torque between 2,000 and 3,500rpm. Although, we’ve seen in the past (with the Abarth Punto) that Fiat’s on-paper performance doesn’t quite add up in the real world, this isn’t the case with the Linea – fortunately.
Fiat has really put some effort into tuning this powertrain, for power delivery is nice and linear. The engine gets more-and-more alive as the revs climb, and we like that. Club this with the Linea’s sensationally feelsome hydraulic steering wheel and excellent handling traits and the Linea 125S truly comes alive on a racetrack. Clip an apex here, slide into a corner there, and you come out of it full of gusto as you put the power down.
Trust me, it’s a very satisfying experience to drive the Linea 125S around a race track. The car is very well balanced, handles like a dream, and has a responsive engine. Fiat has even improved the feel of the rubbery gearbox for you to be able to gloss over it, resulting in a very satisfying driver’s car overall.
As a driver’s car then – pound-for-pound, there’s no alternative for the Linea 125S in the mid-size sedan segment.