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Thread: 3 blissful years with a Jet

  1. #1
    D.L.
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    3 blissful years with a Jet

    Being a spanking new member (my fault) I never got the opportunity to write an initial ownership review on MFW, so I thought it might be a good idea to start off with a bang, and begin with an introductory post about life after 3 years with my Jet. In a way it's probably a good thing I didn't write one right away because in the time spent with it, I have learnt to admire its good points and live with its bad points.

    Please understand that anything penned are my thoughts, and mine only and are not intended to hurt anyone's feelings. At the end of the day we are only talking about a car, and I hope people take it in the correct spirit.


    History

    I really wasn't planning to get a new car but my 2000 Baleno with 1,25,000 on the clock was beginning to show signs of old age. The drive-shafts packed up on a long drive from Coorg and had to be replaced, Steering rack had to be replaced because the rack developed a play and it was past the point of adding shims, Door beading's were showing signs of needing replacement, a power window actuator had packed up, and I was beginning to realize that all theses SGP parts were beginning to get frightfully expensive. So when I finally weighed the cost of parts to replace vs the resale value of the car I found that I was being stupidly emotional, and maybe it was time to move on. Don't get me wrong, the Baleno was a superb car and with the modifications I had done to the engine, and suspension It was a dream to drive in town and on the highway and I was having a hard time thinking of giving her up. So while I hung on to her I started taking casual test drives of some of the worthy replacements when I had the time. These test drives were over a 4 to 6 month period and over 3 years ago so pardon me if I don't remember all the details fully.

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    Between 2 cars and 2 bikes in the family my usage isn't that much and works out to about 6,000-8,000 per year/vehicle so diesel didn't really make sense (the Linea has done only 17,500 km since I have had it).

    What I like in a Car

    I find that in general we seem to have owners who broadly fall into two categories:

    1. People who prefer features to driving dynamics
    2. People who prefer driving dynamics to features

    I fall into the second category, meaning I will happily sacrifice niceties like stop-start, sunroof, keyless, etc. for power, steering feel, ride, handling, etc. It's not that I don't need creature comforts. Give me an AC, good music system, decent ergonomics, good lights and I am good to go. I find that when I am driving I really don't focus on anything else but the road and I really don't fiddle with non-essential controls once on the move. My Baleno fitted the bill perfectly, and with use I had got 'comfortable' with her strong points which were mainly driver oriented, and so with my essential requirement for strong dynamics, and with all the Google research I had done, I went to my test drives with biased mind.

    The Contenders

    1. VW Vento diesel
    I remember just dropping in to Palace Cross VW between meetings and checking out the diesel Vento. The showroom experience was so poor I was actually going to walk out before the test drive (they couldn't locate the car key for a start!!). But I hung around and test drove the Highline version.
    You just cannot fault the visual fit and finish inside and out. The look and feel of the plastics and the switches/stalks were superb compared to the Baleno. Found a comfy driving position easily, started the engine and was greeted with a loud clatter. I expected the diesel to be noisier than the Baleno but not that clattery. Anyway, I took off and immediately noticed that the clutch pedal was pulsing. Asked the sales advisor if that was normal and he said yes!!! (You see why I said the experience was bad). Took it around the block and found that my Baleno had better bottom end torque for city driving, plus I just found the steering way too light compared to the HPS of the Baleno (this was a major problem on every subsequent TD until the T-Jet). My gut told me that this wasn't the car for me.

    p.s.: I realized then and there that a diesel wasn't going to be my cup of tea and I should just stick to petrol's

    2. Hyundai Verna 1.6 SX
    I don't remember much about the Verna drive, but do remember that it had a nice smooth engine with bottom end torque that matched my Baleno but again came with what I thought was an over-servoed steering. I looked, but really couldn't fault the fit and finish of the interiors, but the thing that scared me was the soft rear suspension that bottomed when I drove it quickly over a patchy road with undulations. I will say one thing though, for a small showroom on the outer ring road that has since closed the staff was extremely courteous and the sales person knew about the product.

    3. Duster 110
    I decided to go try my luck with the Duster from the newly opened Trident showroom on the outer ring road. Much nicer sounding diesel than the Vento, lovely ride and genuinely fun car to drive but a diesel, too expensive for what I was getting, and I didn't really want an SUV. OK, I'll admit, the plastic quality and feel of the switches/stalks were a turn off. They didn't have a petrol TD vehicle at that time so didn't pursue it. Again, an excellent knowledgeable sales person attended to me.

    4. Skoda Rapid
    TD never happened. I made several appointments with Skoda Tafe and
    was promised that a car would come home, it never did. So I decided to delete it from the contenders list permanently.

    5. VW Jetta Diesel
    I knew it was way, way out of my budget but decided to go try it with the better half. This is one diesel I would have bought if I had the money and my wife agreed. I loved the way it put down its power, and the wife loved the richness of the interiors and the comfort of the rear bench.

    6. VW Polo Tsi
    Somewhere along the line I also test drove the Tsi. I actually wanted to try the Vento Tsi, so this time decided to try my luck at VW Whitefield but was told that they don't have the Vento Tsi for a TD, but please try the Polo Tsi it's exactly the same!!! I didn’t want to end up having a fit, so headed off for a TD. Have to say that the Tsi is a nice little package with a lovely engine/gearbox combo but I didn't want an automatic. A few flies in the ointment; I could get the gearbox to shudder at crawl speeds which was very unnerving, the steering again was too light for me, and the infamous DSG issues was a Damocles Sword. I will say that the car can move, but I got no real pleasure just stomping on the accelerator.

    By now I had realized that any contender I was going to look at was going to cost me 12+ very large lakhs based on the estimates I was getting from the showrooms which made me gulp!!

    7. Fiat Linea T-Jet
    This happened purely by accident, since by then even the stray cattle roaming the roads knew of Fiat's 'stellar' reputation in the market. Everyone and everything was cursing the Fiat-TATA tie up and what it was doing to After Sales Service. A friend had recently bought the Diesel, and though he just loved the car for how it drove he couldn't stop cursing the Service bit. He actually became so frustrated that he ignored the warranty and started giving it to a FNG for service. So Fiat actually started out being a -10 in my books.

    Within friends I mentioned I was looking to upgrade the car, and sure enough a very dear friend mentioned a 'Dr.' owned Linea diesel for sale, hardly run, beautifully maintained, and Cheap. I balked, but said might as well try it out. To my good fortune the car got sold before I could see it otherwise I might have ended up with a car I might have hated. But the blessing in this was that it did get me doing research on the diesel version, which led me to articles on the T-Jet, a car I had never even considered looking at. The more I read about the Jet the more impressed I became because it seemed to tick all the boxes that I wanted.

    Called the nearest showroom which was KHT Fiat, and they immediately sent a car to the office for a TD. Made myself as comfortable as I could (first time was bit of a handful for me) and took off. This next bit is a bit tough to explain, because the feeling was instinctive. I just knew that this was the only car that would be a worthy successor to my 'girl' and I should stop looking. The Jet just felt like a newer better version of the Baleno, I loved the steering feel (HPS), I loved the way it put down its power (112 bhp and 207 NM of torque, best in class), and I loved the brakes (4 wheel discs). I was so engrossed so engrossed by the above 3 attributes, that the ride, handling, etc. just didn't register at all.

    It was only later that I came to appreciate how unflappable the car is on choppy roads, and that gives you a huge confidence boost when driving quickly. The ride at low speeds is mildly firm, but it doesn’t irritate because the suspension goes about doing its job with very little noise whatever the speed. This car is built like a tank compared to most of the vehicles I test drove, which helps cut out noise but also gives you a sense of security. The heavy build also helps minimize dings and dents in our brilliant Bangalore traffic where every 2-wheeler driver thinks he/she is Vallentino Rossi.

    To cut a long story short, I mulled over it for a week and then with great trepidation decided to involve the better half on this major decision of mine. Breaking the news about the seriousness of this change was a tricky affair since it was actually her car (in her name), and she and the daughter were partial to the Baleno. Managed to convince her to come to the showroom and take a test drive of both the Linea's. The wife hated the MJD but loved the Jet, and this is all from the back seat. Get back to the showroom and the wife looks at me and says, so when are we buying it.

    My jaw dropped.

    We discussed her bombshell later on at home, and her logic actually made sense. I love driving and she knows it, and since I did most of the driving in the family we might as well buy something that I would be happy driving. Luckily the Jet ticked all the right boxes for her as well, price and overall refinement being the main ones. She had also figured out that we were spending way too much on keeping the Baleno ship shape and it wasn't making sense.

    I must mention the attention I got from KHT. It's not that they pampered us, but they treated us with respect and gave us the space and time to make a decision without feeling pressured. I value that more than anything else. The sales adviser did make one recommendation which my family is grateful for, which was to get the top of the line Emotion version rather than the one lower option for a relatively small increase in price. The biggest gain for me personally was the 16" rims which I certainly think helps with the handling. The leather was a nice bonus, but the rest of the goodies I hardly use.

    The day we brought her home
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    I did try the new Honda City, but that was after I bought the Linea. Stupid I know, but wanted to know if I had made a mistake. I hadn't. Don't get me wrong, It's not that I hate Honda's it's just that I feel they have gone so far astray from the core values that made them great like the original VTEC for example. I could happily live with a new Honda which has the DNA of the VTEC, but they don't make that car in India. My uncle has one of the first 1.5L City's, must be close to 15 years old but he loves it to bits and refuses to upgrade to a newer model.

    The Price

    The Jet was one of the first of the updated versions to come out in 2014, so we really didn't get much of a discount but we did get the 3+2 year extended warranty and first year insurance free from Future Genarali. The OR price came to 11.2L which for one was under my budget, and two I thought was incredibly good value for money (it still is according to me).

    With the money saved I went ahead and splurged on a set of Hankook Ventus V12 tyres and upgraded the speakers to Infinity Kappa's along with a Hertz amp and the requisite sound damping and life couldn't have been better. The Hankooks are summer tyres and were the cheapest option of the three I had considered, the other two being Michelin and Continental. After having used them for 3 years I know that my next set is going to another one of these, no questions asked. The V12's are quiet, have great grip and most importantly greatly improve brake feel from the stock Goodyears that were on my car when bought. I can't tell you what a difference good set of tyres make to the overall feel and comfort of a car and for me is one of the best investments I made.

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    The stock Linea lights are not bad but since I was used to 90/100's on my Baleno I upgraded to HID's in the lows and fogs. Before anyone lamb blasts me, I drive only with the fogs in the city and they are angled down. Projectors for the lows are in the pipeline.

    Other Mods

    Ok, I admit I just can't keep a car stock so about 3 months down the line I read about ECU remaps, did my share of Google searches and decided to find out more about Wolfs newly launched switchable remaps (I wanted the option of putting it back to stock for servicing). Rajiv was very helpful and instead of trying to explain his maps went a step further and on a trip to Bangalore came with a remapped ECU, fitted it in my car and said go for a drive. I did, and was sold. All thought of warranty implications just flew out the window with that one short drive. Life got a whole lot better, and I wanted that map.

    Rajiv tried to remap my ECU but he had an issue since the new T-Jets came with a modified map from the company and he had problems downloading his files. So he took my ECU and left the test ECU in my car for 3 months until he had cracked the new ECU. He has since come and updated the maps to his latest versions which are stock + 3 maps. Since I have settled on Map-2 for all driving after much experimentation I will be commenting only on that one map. I just go by seat of pant's feel, but if you want numbers with the remap the car is supposed to be 140 bhp and 240 Nm of torque. All I can say is that the car accelerates quicker than stock, has plenty of torque, and is fast enough for my everyday requirements, which ends up making me a very satisfied customer.

    Map 0: Stock
    Map 1: For city Driving. I don't find much change from stock
    Map 2: Great low end, and smoother engine. The engine tone actually changes and sounds a lot sweeter.
    Map 3: Works on 97 RON. Have to try it on a highway run but more than satisfied with Map-2 to bother about it right now

    Remap vs Stock
    • Torque builds much quicker than stock. The car will pull in 5th from 1200 RPM cleanly without any strain. I usually shift up at around 1800-2000 RPM in the city. This is before the turbo really spools up.
    • The car revs much faster than stock, but the power band seems to be about the same maybe 500 RPM more (2000 to 4500 RPM stock, 1800 to 5000 Map-2)
    • I consistently get about 10.2-10.4 km/l for city driving. It’s tough to keep a light foot on the highway but I average about 12.0-13.0 km/l. Stock was about the same
    • Midrange is where all the fun is, and the remap just makes it a little easier to pass slower moving traffic without shifting down. 5th will pull you through most times
    • Low and midband torque is enough to happily trundle up Sigur Ghat in 2nd almost the whole way with 3 on board. Haven't tried it in stock but know it won’t be able to take the hairpins in 2nd


    In addition I also have a K&N filter which I don't think really improves performance, but use it since I have it.

    About 6 months back I went and test drove the Jetta 1.4 Tsi just to get a sense of how it compares to the Jet. The bottom end of a stock Jet will trounce the 1.4 Tsi, forget my remapped version. The midrange is probably the same, and since this was a spin in the city couldn't try the top end. The Jetta's low speed ride was much better (no roll), the brakes were slightly better, and the steering was lighter. In terms of engine noise inside the cabin while accelerating, both were about the same. The materials fit and finish of the Jetta was in a different league but should be considering it costs almost twice as much as the T-Jet.

    Other Things I like

    • HPS: The hydraulic steering has nice weight and feel at low speeds and it just stays nice and consistent as you build up speed. I'm not fond of finger twirling steering's, and every other steering save the Duster's felt very light in comparison. I don't know if it's a steering issue, but I sometimes do get some kickback when going slowly over a rutted surface.
    • The ride and handling at highway speeds is incredibly composed. It actually gets better the faster you drive it and it urges you to drive faster, but I still feel that the ride/handling in my Baleno with a stiffer suspension and 15" rims was better
    • The brakes: The brakes were always good, nice and progressive with a nice bite if you stomp hard, but the grippy Hankooks just makes them feel better in every way
    • I love the high seating position. Being on the wrong side of 50 I find it much easier to get in and out. I went for a drive in a friends new C200 and had real trouble getting in and out of the passenger seat
    • No squeaks and rattles as yet. Plastics don't have the same kind of premium look as say the Vento or Verna but the material is very hardy
    • Switches and Stalks had a nice hefty feel when new and continue to do so
    • I love the grey meters. It just reminds me so much of the Smith dials in my dads amby
    • Minimal engine noise even under hard acceleration. The car just feels so refined and even more so after shifting over to synthetic oil. If you add in the sound damping and the quiet tyres this car is built to cruise
    • My daughter and cousin (he went to sleep going up Sigur Ghat!!) swear by the rear seat comfort. I can't verify this as I have never sat at the back
    • Remote opening boot is a real boon when shopping. Boot swallows a lot of luggage which I figured out with relief when relatives from abroad came visiting
    • It is a very relaxing car to drive on an everyday basis even in a city like Bangalore. I just don't get stressed when I drive it, and it is 10 times better on the highway
    • ABS and EBD, which I think is a mandatory feature that all cars should have today
    • Solid build quality, good paint and panel gaps


    Things I don't Like
    • Looks and finishing of some of the plastics. The door pads and the plastic shroud around the wipers for instance. The guide for the seat belt at the seat end is so thin that in my case it has broken off.

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    • Steering wheel doesn't go down far enough as I would like. Yes certain ergonomics are screwed up, but I guess my body has adjusted to whatever it provides and I don't have any trouble adjusting when shifting to my swift
    • Low speed ride: My car has the raised suspension and at city speeds the car rolls more than it should
    • The steering wheel. The cow that supplied the leather for the steering must have been made of rexine. My hands sweat no matter what season it is
    • Engine Braking: Zilch, nada, zero. It doesn't exist, and I found out the hard way coming down Sigur Ghat


    Things that don't bother me
    • The vague gearbox: Honestly, the gearbox isn't all that bad and settles in after about 5k of use. It's nowhere as slick as the Vento's or the City's but I have never felt the need to curse it. I don't think the Dusters gearbox was any better than the Linea's.
    • Long throw clutch: Yes the travel is long, but at least its progressive which actually helps for city driving
    • Ergonomics: For me it's mainly the steering wheel which won't go down far enough. The seating posture and reach to the steering/gear lever was never an issue for me


    Features I have but rarely use
    • Cruise Control: Just can't use it on our roads. I find that I have to concentrate twice as hard when using it
    • Auto Headlamp : Never used
    • Rain Sensing Wipers : I think they are way too sensitive and I really can't figure out what they are doing


    Things that did go wrong
    • I found strange white paint patches on the driver’s door and front fender after heavy rains or a pressure wash. The issue was found to be moisture somehow going between the clear coat and paint. The problem was escalated to Fiat and it was fixed FOC by respraying the panels.
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    • Shortly after, a tree fell in our compound and managed to damage the windscreen and the hood of the car. The items were promptly replaced and fixed under warranty through Future Generali.
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    • Around the first service I found that several allen key bolts that hold up the hood and hinges for the doors had rusted heads. Offending bolts were painted FOC by Fiat
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    • Driver’s side lock malfunctioned about a year into ownership. Was replaced under warranty


    Life after the Linea

    I have already started thinking about this though I plan to keep this car for as long as FCA allows me to. The only other cars that I think will/may be a worthy upgrade from the Jet will be significantly more expensive than what I paid for the Jet and that is worrying.

    If I had to recommend this car to anyone today I would have to think twice, only because it's not being supported by FCA the way it should. Nothing major has happened to my car, but Spares and Service could become an issue down the road unless you have the backup of a good FNG, so buying one could end up becoming a very expensive gamble.

    Enclosing some of my favorite pics of the Jet
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  2. #2
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    Re: 3 blissful years with a Jet

    wonderful, wish you many more blissful years with the Jet

  3. #3
    D.L.
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    Re: 3 blissful years with a Jet

    Sorry for the late reply, but thanks. Yeah, I hope it keeps chugging along for a good many years.

  4. #4
    Marshal dkm's Avatar
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    Re: 3 blissful years with a Jet

    Great to hear your story.. . Kedar
    AND miles to go before you sleep


    Sent from my Mi 4i using Tapatalk
    Cheers,
    DKM
    ---------------
    2010 - Fiat Palio 1.3 MJD Bossa Nova White
    1994 - Royal Enfield STD 350 Army Green

  5. #5
    Marshal
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    Re: 3 blissful years with a Jet

    Superb writeup Kedar.... Many a times, Fiat happens by accident but then it grows on you....

    Now facing a situation where I cant think of a proper replacement for my Palio MJD.

    Look forward to more writeups from you...

  6. #6
    Marshal Rudrah's Avatar
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    Re: 3 blissful years with a Jet

    a superbly written buying & ownership experiance, Keero. Thanks for sharing

    Somehow still Fiat isn't able to manage to give a crisp fit & finish product, God knows how these broken stuffs, rusting metal parts and all skip the QA process.

    So how do you feel driving the Tjet after a long experience with Baleno 1.6?
    Sinfully Sexy, Shamelessly Raw, Explicitly Powerful. Nothing better than the Palio 1.6 Horse!
    2008 Palio Stile 1.6 Sports - Formula Red
    2014 Royal Enfield - Bullet 500
    2002 Bajaj Pulsar 150 (Sold)

  7. #7
    D.L.
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    Re: 3 blissful years with a Jet

    Thanks Rudrah. I feel the jet is the perfect upgrade from the baleno. both are very similar dynamically, and have a similar power delivery, it's just that the jet is better in most aspects. Miss the Baleno, but no regrets..

  8. #8
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    Re: 3 blissful years with a Jet

    Quote Originally Posted by Keroo View Post
    Thanks Rudrah. I feel the jet is the perfect upgrade from the baleno. both are very similar dynamically, and have a similar power delivery, it's just that the jet is better in most aspects. Miss the Baleno, but no regrets..
    Similarly for a Palio 1.6 owners, the Punto Abarth is the right upgrade.

    Even the S-Cross 1.6 MJD is a fantastic upgrade.
    Sinfully Sexy, Shamelessly Raw, Explicitly Powerful. Nothing better than the Palio 1.6 Horse!
    2008 Palio Stile 1.6 Sports - Formula Red
    2014 Royal Enfield - Bullet 500
    2002 Bajaj Pulsar 150 (Sold)

  9. #9
    D.L.
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    Re: 3 blissful years with a Jet

    On a hunch I decided to replace my K&N filter with a stock unit I had lying around. The K&N had barely done 6,000km and looked clean to me but boy what a difference in performance with a new filter. The car feels about 10% faster on acceleration and pulls a lot harder towards the top. The idling is smoother, and in general the engine just feels a lot more refined. I am guessing that the Jet with its horrible air intake is very sensitive to air quality and even more so with remapped one like mine.

    Moral of the story is to bench the K&N for now and just replace the stock filter every 6 months and see how that works out.

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