By Shari Prymak
Honda has quite the illustrious past when it comes to engineering and innovation. Not that long ago, Honda’s Formula One efforts were a dominating force, powering champions like Ayrton Senna to worldwide stardom. Honda’s brilliance wasn’t limited to the racetrack. On the road, they built 9,000rpm screaming S2000 roadsters, fun little Preludes with four-wheel steering, and an all-aluminum NSX supercar that was comfortable and reliable enough to be used as a daily runabout.
Though Honda’s exuberance has died down quite a bit in recent years, there is still a flicker of hope. A new NSX is on the way, and the clever innovation that once permeated the entire range is making a slow, quiet comeback. No car better illustrates this than the Fit, which is basically a lesson to the rest of the world on how to build a proper small hatchback.
The single most amazing quality of the Fit is its ability to make perfect use of every millimetre of its 4064mm length. The space efficiency of the interior defines Honda innovation. No one will complain about legroom in this thing, even with four adults in place. Just to get some idea of how roomy the Fit is, know that the rear seats actually have more measurable legroom than the much larger Accord sedan. The seats, both front and back, are also as flexible as a circus contortionist, and allow the Fit to accommodate just about anything IKEA can whip up. I’ve driven proper crossovers that can’t match the practicality of the Fit.
No crossover I’ve driven is as fun to toss around either. The Fit has a nimbleness and fun to drive nature that can only be had from a small, lightweight car. The ride quality doesn’t suffer as a result of the fine handling either. The Fit soaks up bumps fairly well, remaining solid and jitter free. The downside seems to be a bit of wind noise at freeway speeds, a trait which all compacts share to some extent.
Thankfully, noise isn’t an issue in the drivetrain department. The Fit is powered by a refined 1.5L engine that produces an adequate 130hp and 114lb-ft of torque. You can go with a slick-shifting 6-speed manual gearbox or a smooth CVT, and either way, you’ll be in great shape. I averaged 7.5L/100km without even trying. Around 6.0L/100km is easily doable on the freeway.
Small sub-compact cars have long suffered the stigma of being cheap basic transportation and the lowliest form of motoring. Those days are long gone. For an MSRP of $21,375, my test car came with heated leather seats, climate control, proximity keyless entry with pushbutton start, and a sharp touchscreen with a backup camera, Honda LaneWatch, and Hondalink. More on that last one in minute.
Yes, a fully loaded Fit gets you well into Civic money, but you’ll find upon close inspection that the Fit is in no way a downgrade. The materials are first rate and the controls simple to use. The tile-based touchscreen will be familiar to anyone who uses an Apple or Android phone. The Hondalink system connects with your phone for apps like GPS, Aha, and many more. It also offers a Siri voice system that, unlike most systems of this type, actually responds to voice commands.
In terms of pure need and practicality, few cars make more sense than the Fit. I’d argue that it’s an even better car than Honda’s bestselling model, the Civic. It offers nearly the same level of equipment for a lower price, while being more practical and fuel efficient as well. Although the Fit is the brand’s least expensive model, it represents the brand character better than any other. It touches on Honda’s engineering excellence, while fully embracing its long known reputation for affordability, reliability, and efficiency. It may not be a race car, or even a sports car, but it is still a Honda in its truest form.