A subcompact hatchback used to be the kind of car you couldn’t wait to get rid of. But when the Honda Fit arrived in the U.S. for the 2007 model year, its remarkable interior packaging and fun-to-drive, sprightly character made it a subcompact hatchback you actually wanted to own, and not just because it was all you could afford. That’s why I was overjoyed when my dad handed me the keys to his 2009 Honda Fit. (I still own it today.)
Despite all the love for the first two iterations of the Fit, Honda saw room for improvement with the 2015 Honda Fit. The subcompact segment has evolved over the past few years, with newer competitors offering better fuel efficiency, more technology, and higher levels of refinement than the outgoing Honda Fit. To get back to the top of the class, the redesigned Fit must zero in on these areas without straying from Honda’s proven small-car formula.
It’s what’s inside that counts
The new Fit rides on a revised platform that is both lighter and stiffer. The car is more than an inch shorter overall, but its unique centrally located fuel tank allows for a low cargo floor and a spacious interior. Cabin materials are of much better quality, and the nominal price increase belies the longer list of standard equipment, from a backup camera and Bluetooth on the base LX to a one-touch sunroof, leather, push-button start, and heated front seats on the EX-L.
Also standard on the Fit EX and up is a new HondaLink touchscreen infotainment system. In recent years, we’ve criticized Honda and Acura interiors for their confusing array of buttons, but the new system swings to the other extreme with a nearly button-free interface that gives the dashboard a sleek, modern look. Still, we’ve frequently gone on record expressing our support of traditional buttons and knobs, and the Honda system’s finicky volume slider and lack of haptic feedback convince us that there is a happy medium between the two approaches.
Although the Honda Fit’s party piece has always been its interior packaging, the new Fit adds a bit more style to the equation. It now looks less like a pocket-sized minivan and more like a premium hatchback, thanks to shorter overhangs and a more streamlined profile. In snazzy new colors like Mystic Yellow Pearl and Aegean Blue Metallic, the new Fit won’t make you feel like as much of a dork as the old one did. (I would know.)
How does it drive?
On the twisting roads around San Diego, the new Honda Fit’s reflexes aren’t quite as sharp as those of its predecessor, mostly due to lighter steering and slightly softer suspension damping. But considering the pockmarked roads many Americans face every day, the new car’s more composed ride is a welcome tradeoff. Plus, the Fit still feels a lot more lively and willing to hustle than competitors like the listless Nissan Versa, especially when equipped with the slick, satisfying standard six-speed manual transmission.
This great gearbox—along with the optional CVT—mates with an all-new 1.5-liter inline-four that’s part of Honda’s efficiency-minded Earth Dreams engine family. The old Fit’s 35-mpg EPA highway rating was impressive when the car launched but has since been surpassed by competitors. The new, direct-injected engine not only achieves up to 41 mpg, but it also provides more power and torque. Its 130 hp is all you really need in a subcompact, and the engine has a dash of character thanks to its somewhat sporty engine note and willingness to rev. The optional CVT allows revs to build naturally and avoids the moaning and groaning that typically make such transmissions anathema to enthusiasts.
The old Honda Fit was so popular in the United States that Honda consistently struggled to produce enough Fits in Japan to keep up with demand here. The 2015 Honda Fit hatchbacks are already rolling off the line at a brand-new plant in Celaya, Mexico, that has a production capacity of 200,000 units per year. Problem solved. This new plant will also be home to a new addition to the Fit family, a subcompact crossover that will compete with the funky Nissan Juke.
There’s no reason to think that demand for this new Fit won’t be just as high as before, if not higher. The 2015 Honda Fit is more efficient, more refined, and better-equipped than before without sacrificing the practical appeal and peppy personality that have made it a success thus far. Perhaps it’s time to convince my dad to buy one so I can upgrade in a few years.
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