Everybody remembers his or her first Honda, whether it was the car you learned to drive in, the hand-me-down high school whip, or the start of a life-long journey filled with Honda-bliss, it never really leaves the memory banks.
What most remember about their first encounters with the Honda brand, are small, reliable, ultra-economical Civic hatchbacks that took well to modification. Unknowingly, Honda has been producing tuner-friendly cars for years, including 7second drag cars and potent road race weapons. In 2006, Honda introduced another type of entry-level hatchback, the Honda Fit; targeted at the same crowd the Civic was intended for. While most tuners found them under-powered, the general buying population went crazy for the micro-sized 4-door hatch resulting in record sales and unintentionally knocking the entire Civic line-up out of the Japanese market.
Flash forward nine years and we now have the third generation Fit with quite a few upgrades compared to its predecessors. We were invited to beautiful San Diego, California, to get up close and personal with the newly designed Fit.
Before you hop in, you can't expect the Fit to perform like the legendary Civic Type-R or even its Si sibling. It's just not that type of car. It's a car built to get to point A to point B with a reasonable price tag, outstanding fuel efficiency and plenty of interior space. The Fit is an international car that has different purposes in different parts of the world. In Asia, it's used as a family car, whereas in the U.S., you'll most likely find a single, young adult behind the wheel. Either way, the 2015 Fit seems to offer something to everyone and is loaded with an almost unbelievable amount of standard premium features.
At first glance, the 2015 Fit appears quite a bit bigger than previous models. Honda tells us that it does have a longer wheelbase, but the dimensions of the car are in fact the same. Bumper to bumper, the lines of the car are more aggressive than previous years and that lends itself to even better fuel economy due in part to its aerodynamics. Honda's engineers went through a great deal to improve the coefficient of drag and the numbers show.
Inside the cabin you'll find a completely redesigned cockpit where most of the standard features are found, including push button start and a 7-inch touchscreen display audio source. For the first time, the Fit gets the Eco Assist lighting feature, which changes the light behind the speedometer depending how you drive the car - a trick that helps drivers obtain improved MPG. The Fit's interior can be configured in a few different ways, but one of the coolest is the "Refresh Mode" where two people can lay down comfortably. Perfect for camping or resting after a long drive. Honda developed four Honda Link apps that give you access to special online content. One of those Apps is a Navigation app which will allow users to display their route on Fits that aren't equipped with a navigation system. It's a nice option to have for buyers who don't want to pay for the built-in navigation kit. When we tried it, it felt like there were a few kinks that needed to be worked out, but we're sure a future update will fix that right up.
After a few hours of driving the Fit, we were asked to drive competitors cars: the Chevy Sonic, Ford Fiesta, Nissan Versa, and Toyota Yaris. I'm no Michael Schumacher, but it was evident that Fit had the edge in terms of performance, interior space, and appearance.
The 2015 Honda Fit is powered by a 1.5L 4-cylinder with i-VTEC+VTC valve and timing control, plus direct fuel injection. Rated at 130 horsepower with a peak torque of 114lbs ft tq. The more impressive numbers are of course the EPA fuel-economy with a rating of 29/37/32 (city/highway/combined) for the manual transmission, 33/41/36 for the LX trim with CVT, and 32/38/35 for the EX and EX-L trim with CVT. MSRP starts at $15,525 for the LX trim and goes all the way up $20,800 for a loaded EX-L with Navi.
There's little doubt that the new Fit will be another global sensation. A car this handsome combined with a moderate price tag and a brilliant fuel-efficient engine has to be. Honda also realizes that and has made a brand new plant in Mexico to keep up with the demand. In a market that seems to be growing by the day with competitors unveiling new vehicles regularly, Honda has managed to find the right recipe to once again remain at the top of the sub-compact market.