“The Fit has the space race won…”
The subcompact segment in Canada had been a bit stale, until this past year, when we witnessed a number of new entries into this segment.
In 2013, Nissan introduced the Versa Note hatchback and earlier this year Nissan followed up with the Micra, the least expensive car on the market ($9,998).
The latest entry is the Honda Fit, the only vehicle in this competitive class to come with an amazing array of seating options that make it a wonder-on-wheels.
In an age where most cars get bigger from one generation to the next, Honda has bucked the trend and actually shaved 41mm off the overall length of this new 2015 Fit, but improved interior volume. The way they achieved this is by stretching the wheelbase and shortening the front and rear overhangs. This move also helped in the styling department by producing more of a wedge front surface with a sleeker front windshield. The Fit now looks longer, sleeker, and less top heavy. Priced from $14,495 – $22,595, the Fit, on paper, might not look as attractive as the top selling Hyundai Accent and Kia Rio. But when the buyer factors in the versatility of this vehicle and the fact it has the highest retained value in this class, according to Canadian Black Book, it can offer good value.
As attractive as the new exterior is, the interior has always been the real story. There is no other car in the subcompact, or even the compact class, that has the same functionality and flexibility. This new 2015 has 79mm of additional rear seat room, the largest cargo area, class leading passenger volume and more front shoulder room than its competitors. That’s all good stuff but the design of the rear seats and cargo floor make all of that room even more useful. Honda has what they call Magic Seats. An outrageously simple rear seat design that allows the seat bottom to flip up, making the rear seat floor accessible to store large or tall objects. This would be a great place to transport a dog, almost like a kennel on wheels. Since the fuel tank is placed under the front seats instead of the typical location under the rear cargo floor, this allowed the designers to lower the rear floor offering a much deeper cargo area. Combine this with the ability of the rear seats to fold, plus the front passenger seat to be reclined to help transport extra long items; the Fit has the space race won.
Honda has a new line of engines it calls Earth Dreams, a less than subtle mocking of Mazda’s Skyactiv. The essence of this new engine technology is taking variable valve timing and direct injection, plus a lighter design to help in power delivery and fuel consumption. The new 1.5L engine has eleven percent more power, at 130hp, plus more torque at 114 lb.-ft. but is 27% lighter than the old engine. The power goes to either an all-new 6-speed manual that is available on all trim levels or a new continuously variable transmission that expands the gear, ratio range by fourteen percent. What this means in terms of drivability is a better jump off the line and improved highway cruising. Because the new transmission reduces weight and friction, the fuel economy has improved by sixteen percent, which is an amazing accomplishment in such a small car. Rated at 7.0L/100km in the city and 5.7L on the highway, using the much tougher 2015 fuel standards, represents fuel number buyers will actually be able to achieve. In addition, the suspension has been improved for more responsiveness but I found the ride a bit choppy over bumpy roads.
There is so much to talk about with the Honda Fit from space to design and new engineering; it is easy to overlook the creature comforts that have been added. There is now a height adjustable drivers seats, a standard 5-inch LCD screen with backup camera and Bluetooth all on the base $14,495 DX trim. Move up one step to the $17,295 LX trim and Honda includes a huge 7-inch touch-sensitive Display Audi system and heated front seats (my favourite). There is also the $19,195 EX trim with alloy wheels, paddle shifter and moon roof, but the big news is the inclusion of the $21,295 EX-L Navi trim. This is the EX trim with leather and navigation, making the fit downright opulent.
This isn’t the least expensive car in this class but on the whole it offers so much more than just a price point. This car is all about smart money.
Power: 1.5L 4-cylinder with 130hp
Fill-up: 7.0L/5.7L/100km (city/highway)
Sticker price: $14,495-$22,595