2008 Honda Fit Sport

ENGINE/POWERTRAIN

It might not sound like a lot, but 109 hp is sufficient to haul this 2500-pound hatchback around town and at highway speeds. Although you won't exactly rocket up to speed, cruising on the highway at 80 mph in the Fit feels quite comfortable, if a little loud. The Fit's SOHC 1.5-liter four-cylinder VTEC engine is mated to either a five-speed manual or a five-speed automatic transmission. We prefer shifting for ourselves, and Honda's manual transmissions are among the best on the market. The shift and clutch action are precise and well-weighted, and they allow the driver to wring the most out of the four-cylinder engine. We realize that most drivers will likely opt for the automatic transmission, however. The good news is that automatic transmission in the Fit Sport model comes with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters, giving the driver the option to shift for himself. No matter which transmission you order, however, you can feel comfortable in knowing that your fuel economy will be among the tops on the market. Manual transmission models are rated at 28/34 mpg by the EPA, automatic models get 27/34 (without paddleshifters) and 27/33 (with paddleshifters).

CHASSIS/SUSPENSION

The Honda Fit can an entertaining drive, which is saying a lot for a car in this category. The Fit feels nimble and surefooted on two-lanes, and the fun factor goes up if you keep the revs up in the curves. Steering is very precise, and there is minimal body roll. On the highway, the Fit feels stable, although we noticed some buffeting during a stretch where the wind was gusting heavily and we were passing a semi. That's not unexpected in a small car, however, and compared with, say, a Smart car, the Fit practically felt glued to the pavement.

CONCLUSION

The Honda Fit is among the best cars on the market in the subcompact category. Although more expensive than most of its competitors, it makes up for it with great reliability and brilliant packaging. If that's not enough for you, however, you might want to wait a few months for the 2009 Fit. The new model will be slightly larger, will have a bump in horsepower from an all-new 1.5-liter VTEC engine, and will be available with a navigation system. For audiophiles, the new model will also have a USB audio interface, so you can listen to the music on your iPod. As is typical for Honda, it is taking a good thing and making it even better.

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