Honda hatchback in great shape to succeed
A good way to gauge the fitness of a car manufacturer is to see how long it takes to react to the arrival of new competition. Take Honda’s trim and toned Fit hatchback.
You can’t help noticing the timing. It’s just what the company needed to outmuscle the Hyundai Accent, Kia Rio, Chevy Aveo, Pontiac Wave, Suzuki Swift+ and Toyota Yaris in the entry-level subcompact class.
And if fun-to-drive is on your list of possible parameters, then the Fit’s agility and performance are just what’s needed.
The 5-seater – that’s how Honda describes it, but four is a more realistic body count – fits the needs of small car buyers very well indeed. But it also nicely fits into the Honda model lineup (under the Civic) and sits ready to cash in on the growing demand for small, fuel-efficient cars able to hold all the people and things needed to fit an active life.
The entry-level Fit DX starts at $14,980, mid-range LX at $17,180 and the Sport at $20,780. An optional (and class exclusive) 5-speed automatic adds $1,200 to the DX and LX versions and $1,300 to the Sport (due to its steering wheel paddle shifters).
Power comes from a lively, 109 hp, 1.5-litre, 4-cylinder engine. The 7.3 L/100 km city and 5.8 L/100 km highway mileage numbers for manual transmission models fit near the top in this class.
Pin-sharp steering with good feedback works well with the supple suspension layout to deliver stable handling and firm ride quality. The DX and LX are shod with 175/65R14 rubber while the Sport’s grin factor rises with grippier 195/55R16 tires.
A full complement of safety features such as anti-lock braking (ABS), dual-stage front airbags, front side airbags and side curtain airbags is standard.
Flexible interior room is another big plus in the Fit’s favour. Despite its small size, there is surprisingly large space for maximum passenger comfort and cargo flexibility. Two things help here. The rear suspension layout lets the cargo floor sit 72 mm (2.8 in.) lower than a multi-link design would permit. Honda’s engineers also moved the fuel tank forward (under the front seats). This innovative “centre tank” position cleared the way for the rear floor to be lowered.
All of the above helped gain necessary space for the 60/40 split rear seats to flip and fold in innovative ways. The standard “Magic Seat” has four modes: Utility, Tall, Long and Refresh. In Utility, the rear seat backs fold forward (and flat) without removing the headrests, almost doubling the cargo volume to 1,186 litres (41.8 cu-ft) from 603 litres (21.3 cu-ft). To carry vertical objects, Tall mode sees the seat cushion fold into an upright position. Putting the front seat and rear seats down flush, in Long mode, permits carrying items up to 2.4 metres (8 ft.) long.
And in Refresh, the front seats recline flush with the rear seat cushion to form a comfy bed-like arrangement.
2007 Honda Fit