The practical, peppy Honda Fit hatchback has been a big success since it came to the United States 2006. But the Fit’s story doesn’t begin in 2006. Honda’s popular subcompact debuted in Japan in 2001 and has been sold in a host of variations in markets around the world. In anticipation of the upcoming Honda Fit crossover and the rumored sedan model for the U.S., we are highlighting five models that were never offered for sale on our shores.
Honda Fit Twist
The upcoming crossover won’t be the first SUV-inspired version of the Fit. This derivative on the second-generation Fit, called the Honda Fit Twist and developed by Honda’s Brazilian R&D team specifically for the Brazilian market in 2012, is still on sale today. The Fit Twist features a raised ride height, different front and rear fascias, roof rails, and some rugged-looking, SUV-like plastic cladding that give the compact hatchback a soft-roader look. There’s not much under the skin to back up this tougher appearance, though, as the Fit Twist features the same 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine and front-wheel drive as all U.S.-market Fit hatchbacks. - JC
Honda Fit Sedan
Various sedan versions of the Fit have been around almost since the hatchback’s inception. In 2002, Honda began production of the Honda City sedan, which was built on the same platform as the first-generation Fit. That model was produced in Thailand and was also sold in the Japanese and Chinese markets as the Honda Fit Aria and Honda Fit Saloon, respectively. The second generation of the Honda City sedan, introduced in 2008, did away with its predecessor’s awkward proportions and expanded into the emerging Brazilian market. Now, the newest Honda City sedan, which was recently revealed for the Indian market, is rumored to preview a subcompact sedan that may join the 2015 Fit hatchback and the upcoming Fit-based crossover in the United States. - Joseph Capparella
Honda Fit Hybrid
The first Honda Fit Hybrid arrived in 2010, three years after the second-generation Fit launched in Japan. The Hybrid combined a 1.3-liter inline-four engine with a "compact and light" version of Honda's Integrated Motor Assist hybrid drive and returned the equivalent of 70 mpg in Japan. Because the battery pack and power electronics fit beneath the cargo compartment, the Fit Hybrid retained the standard car's interior space and clever folding rear seats. The Honda Fit Hybrid actually arrived nearly two years earlier than planned. Honda reportedly decided to cash in on the success of the Toyota Prius -- and counter the relative failure of the Honda Insight.
In 2012, we tested a prototype of the hybrid powertrain used in the new, third-generation Honda Fit Hybrid in Japan. A 1.5-liter inline-four engine works with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic and an electric motor-generator. The prototype was capable of driving at up to 43 mph on electrical power alone and was said to be 30 percent more fuel efficient than the outgoing model. The production Honda Fit Hybrid, now on sale in Japan, manages up to 86 mpg in Japanese testing. - Jake Holmes
Honda Fit Shuttle
In Honda parlance, Shuttle is the preferred term for a tall, monobox people mover. In Japan, the '83- '96 Civic Wagon (or "wagovan") was known as the Civic Shuttle. European markets knew Honda's first-generation minivan as the Shuttle, not the Odyssey. The Fit Shuttle, which launched overseas in 2011, roughly adheres to that formula, even though it is identical to the regular Fit from the C-pillars forward. The Shuttle has the same 98.4-inch wheelbase as the Fit, but its hindquarters are stretched by a foot. The extra space isn’t enough to provide room for a third row, but it does enlarge the Fit’s cargo hold. The Fit’s trick-folding Magic Seat remains intact, and a bi-folding load floor provides for additional versatility. Although Honda doesn’t see the Fit Shuttle as a “fit” in North America, a Fit with room for more junk in the trunk was apparently just what the Japanese public wanted: in its first day on the market, dealers took over 7000 orders. - Evan McCausland
Honda Fit EV
Honda began offering the all-electric Fit EV to Japanese governments and businesses in 2012, and a limited number of electric Fits were also offered to U.S. customers in California, Oregon, and select East Coast markets on a lease-only basis. These lucky few benefited from the Fit EV’s 82-mile EPA-estimated range and combined 118-mpg rating, achieved using a compact 92-kW electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack. It was a treat for hypermilers and enthusiasts alike, given the Fit EV’s low center of gravity, independent rear suspension, and spunky 189 lb-ft of torque. The bad news, however, is that Honda is taking back all 1100 Fit EV models when the leases expire. - Eric Weiner