In the subcompact car segment, some models offer a more engaging driving experience at the expense of interior space, while others put the emphasis on versatility. Between the two, like the automotive equivalent of a Swiss army knife, is the Honda Fit.
Obviously, this type of knife doesn’t have the sharpest blade, but includes a bunch of useful tools and can easily be stored in a small pocket. In a vehicle category that includes the Ford Fiesta, the Hyundai Accent, the Kia Rio, the Toyota Yaris and others, the Honda Fit stands out with its vast cockpit and powerful – yet efficient – powertrain.
More power, less frequent stops at the gas station
Completely redesigned for the 2015 model year, the Fit received a new 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine that features direct injection. It produces 130 horsepower – up by 13 compared to the outgoing generation’s engine – in addition to 114 lb-ft of torque. It’s no road rocket, but the Fit cheerfully moves along on the open road and offers good performance around town.
Our test car was equipped with a new six-speed manual transmission, although an optional continuously variable automatic will suit the vast majority of subcompact consumers just fine. While Honda has always offered among the most precise manual gearboxes in the industry, the one in the Fit doesn’t quite measure up to our expectations. It nevertheless does a good job in a car such as the Fit, but on the highway, its short gearing forces the engine to spin at high revs. High-speed commutes are always accompanied by engine noise. That’s too bad, although the CVT fares better in this regard.
In addition, the manual transmission consumes slightly more fuel compared to the CVT. The latter allows the 2015 Honda Fit to boast a lower combined rating than all of its subcompact rivals, except for the Toyota Prius c and its hybrid powertrain. We finished our test week with an excellent average of 6.8 L/100 km.
For such a small car, the Fit is surprisingly spacious. Its square design favours interior volume, and in fact, the Fit even has a microvan look. Like an Odyssey that was left in the dryer for too long.
Front-seat occupants won’t feel cramped at all, while the expansive greenhouse not only allows plenty of light in the cabin, but provides great visibility of the road ahead. On the other hand, certain details need to be revised, such as the centre armrest that’s too low and the tactile climate controls that are hard to use while driving. The infotainment screen isn’t the most reactive to finger poking and we really miss having a good old volume knob.
In back, two adults will be totally at ease. Headroom and legroom are abundant, a rarity in the subcompact segment. However, for adults or kids, the middle rear seat isn’t very comfortable.
The 2015 Honda Fit’s biggest strong point is its cavernous cargo area. With the rear seatbacks in place, the Versa Note offers more cargo space, but after folding down the seats, the Fit boasts a maximum volume of 1,492 litres – against 1,084 for the Nissan. The other segment contenders aren’t nearly as roomy. In addition, the large hatchback and the flat load floor make loading up cargo much easier. We can practically move a washing machine in the Fit.
An affordable Fit
Honda’s subcompact is offered from $14,575 in base DX trim, before freight and delivery charges. However, at that price, air conditioning isn’t included, and the CVT isn’t available.
A Fit LX that starts at $17,375 includes a more interesting list of features, such as cruise control, heated front seats and a more upscale, touchscreen sound system. The most affordable automatic Fit costs $18,675. Our Fit EX-L NAVI tester features leatherette upholstery, a sunroof and a navigation system, among other things, but is $21,375 MSRP creeps into compact-car territory, with vehicles that are bigger and more refined.
And those compact cars, which are currently offered with attractive rebates, are stealing sales away from the subcompacts, a market segment that has been declining these past few years. However, if we’re interested by small hatchback for its versatility, its fuel economy and its ideal dimensions for squirting through urban traffic, the Fit possesses all the necessary tools to lead its segment, and is as useful as a Swiss army knife.
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