News Column

Honda Fit Sport

March 19, 2008

By Ralph Gray

Honda Fit Sport

The Honda Fit Sport is not a nice, cheap small car. It's a darn nice car. Period.

For the Fit may be inexpensive, but it doesn't feel cheap. It may be small, but it doesn't feel tiny. It's not a sports utility, but a five-door hatchback that can rival an SUV for versatility.

There's a five (count 'em five) speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters on the steering wheel. There's electric power rack and pinion steering for accurate direction.

While the base Fit comes with 14-inch tires, the Sport brings it to 15 inches and even 16-inch tires can be had for their increased handling abilities.

The 1.5L four cylinder engines puts out 109 horsepower via its 16-valve. Electronic throttle controls provide a snappy response from the loud pedal.

The Fit delivers city mileage in the upper 20s and highway in the low 30s. The base five-speed manual version gets 28 city and 34 highway, while the automatic equipped Sport does 27 and 33.

In addition to the standard high fuel economy, the Fit comes standard with air conditioning, a perfectly adequate sound system, power windows and doors and rear window wiper. The Sport adds an aero body kit, rear roofline spoiler, louder audio, and fog lights.

Also praiseworthy are the anti-lock brakes that are standard. There's a lot of air bags around--front, front side, and side curtain.

Honda's "Magic Seat" system does everything but drive the car. It supplies five different seating and cargo configurations. They are refresh mode--flat back and front seats; tall object mode; long object mode; utility and standard. The seats flip and fold into the floor.

Is there nothing this wonder car doesn't do well? Yep. Accelerate. It's a pokey 12 seconds or thereabout to 60 mph. Boy racers claim 9 or 10 seconds, but that must be using whips and goads.

Yet on the way to that 60 mph, the Fit Sport feels lively and keeps up with traffic quite well. The car feels responsive not only on the twisties but on the straights where highway speeds are handled with aplomb.

It tracks well around curves albeit with a fair amount of lean but the Fit never loses its poise. There's plenty of understeer (the car wants to go straight on curves) to remind drivers that "Sport" is a model name not a precise description. The ride is fairly hard over bumps and smooths out on smooth surfaces.

Don't look for a commanding driving position--the manual seats are too low for that. The detent on the automatic shifter can be a little hard to work.

But all of this is nit picking. Does the Honda Fit do what a small, economical car should do? It does, in spades.

Honda Fit Sport Honda Fit Sport

•Engine: 1.5L I-4

•Dimensions: 96.5" wheelbase; 157.4" length.

•Base price: $13,850/tested $15,970.

•Fuel economy: 28/34 mpg.

Source: Source: (c) 2008. All rights reserved.

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