The Fit is Honda's answer to the Nissan Versa and the Toyota Yaris, which are also brand-new this year: it's small and cheap, with a base price pegged at between $13,000 and $14,000. The five-door going on sale in the U.S. in April is, unfortunately, not as cute as the three-door model sold elsewhere in the world. At least it's well equipped, with six air bags, ABS, air conditioning, power windows, locks, and mirrors, and a CD stereo all standard.
A 109-hp, 105-lb-ft, 1.5-liter SOHC VTEC four-cylinder is mated to a five-speed stick or a five-speed automatic. The Fit weighs only about 2500 pounds, though, so performance should be decent. The Fit Sport is distinguished by a body kit, including a rear roofline spoiler, fifteen-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a six-speaker, more powerful CD stereo with equalizer and iPod connectivity. The base model makes do with fourteen-inch steel wheels. Sixteen-inch wheels are available as a dealer option. The Sport also offers steering wheel-mounted paddle shift controls on models equipped with the automatic transmission. This is the first time we've seen that feature-originally the province of exotic sports cars-on a car this inexpensive.
The Fit might be small on the outside-it's only 157.4 inches long-but it makes the most of its 90.1 cubic feet of interior space. The 60/40-split rear seats allow the seatbacks to fold down or the seat bottoms to flip up, creating more space for tall objects, and there's a substantial 21.3 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats when they are in place. The instrument panel is attractive, and the big circular control panel for the audio system looks cool and should be easy to use.
Chief engineer Tetsuya Nomura changed the Fit's suspension geometry and specified high-performance electric power steering for U.S. duty. "These changes were for ride comfort, stability, and handling," Nomura-san says.
Christina Ra, Fit product planner for the U.S. market, claims that the Fit's extensive package of standard features will help set it apart from the Versa and the Yaris. Honda hopes to sell about 33,000 of them this year and then 50,000 annually thereafter. The Fit is hardly sexy, but with its low price and high feature content, those sales projections are probably accurate.