Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Driven: The All-New 2015 Honda Fit

Silver 2015 Honda Fit

Honda manufactures automobiles that are smartly designed, thoughtfully executed and built, and are solid as a rock. Between my husband Andy and me, we have owned seven of them. Honda has been in our families for a long time. I first learned about Honda when I was a child, as my father had a Honda lawn mower that ran for eternity, partly due to its quality but also due to him taking care of it like it was his baby, even waxing it each year. So, it is only natural we were excited to take part in the redesigned 2015 Honda Fit launch in San Diego, CA.

The 2015 Fit is the third generation of Honda’s five-door B-segment subcompact. Introduced in the U.S. in 2007, Honda brought the Fit over from Japan to compete in the newly exploding North American subcompact market. Well known for its versatility, fuel economy, driving dynamics, and small exterior but living-large interior, the Fit would become a front-runner in its class.

2015 Honda Fit Lineup

The all-new Fit incorporates sporty and dynamic exterior styling that sits atop a new and lighter-weight chassis. This B-segment hatch has many improved accoutrements and is now available in four trim levels that follow the classic Honda naming convention: LX, EX, EX-L, plus EX-L with NAVI (navigation). No more base model (without the body kit) and sport model (with the body kit). Like the Civic LX, the Fit LX is the entry trim level, but don’t let that dissuade you—the LX has plenty of goodies to offer. This includes a rearview camera, auto on/off headlights, soft-touch dash, LED taillights, and one-touch blinkers in addition to items such as cruise control, keyless entry, power lots-o-stuff, USB connectivity, and air conditioning. Honda offers a boatload of features for their base model. Back in the day I would be excited to get a CD player instead of a tape deck and power windows as an extra feature … did I just date myself?

The next trim level is the EX, which has all of the above features, plus niceties such as a power moonroof, alloy wheels, fog lights, smart entry/push-button start, and lane watch blind-spot display, which uses an actual camera mounted on the passenger's side mirror to project a picture of the vehicle in your blind spot onto a 7” screen.

Add full leather and heated seats, side turn signals and heated mirrors, as well as a leather steering wheel and shift knob, and now you are talking about the EX-L trim level. Only thing missing from that would be the NAVI (navigation) system with traffic, XM, and HD radio—to round out the top-of-the-line trim level, the EX-L with NAVI. Now, you just need a butler and a chauffeur.

Let’s just cut to the chase on cost: The MSRP has hardly increased for the 2015 Fit, especially given the extras Honda has packed into each trim level.
  • The LX model increased a mere $100 from the outgoing base model to $16,325 for the CVT and $15,525 for the six-speed manual transmission.

  • The EX trim level, which will essentially replace the outgoing sport model, increased $225 to $18,235 for the CVT and $17,435 for the manual.
  • EX-L trim level (CVT only) is priced at $19,800.

  • The EX-L with NAVI (CVT only) will set you back $20,800.

Honda 1.5-liter Earth Dreams Engine
The new Fit employs a 1.5-liter Earth Dreams Technology engine that retains the same  displacement as the powerplant found in the previous Fits, but improves upon combustion optimization, weight reduction, and minimizes friction to increase horsepower and fuel economy. The DOHC engine features direct injection and Honda’s i-VTEC valve operation. This high-output engine packs quite a punch producing 130 horsepower and 114 lb-ft of torque. Horsepower is up 11% and torque is up 7.5% compared to its predecessor.

There are two transmission choices: a CVT and a six-speed manual (yay!). The CVT features improved efficiency and responsiveness, along with a 14% weight reduction, which in turn, equals improved fuel economy versus the previous five-speed automatic. On EX models with the CVT, dual-mode steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters are standard fare. In S mode, the driver has full control of shifting with paddle shifters.The S mode offers seven speed modes ("gears"). I found that the CVT performed admirably, had kick-down power when you needed it, and provided quick throttle response.

The six-speed manual transmission boasts a 10% reduction in shift stroke, an enhanced sporty nature, and an easy, precise, rigid shift feel. The manual transmission was fun to drive, especially when driven spiritedly. The clutch was very light, but it engaged at a bit too high of a point for me. I felt the car was geared well, but throws felt a tad long. I do believe the 2015 Fit is a fun-to-drive sporty mobile in either powertrain, and is a great canvas to work from should you want to customize to your liking.

Honda proclaims the Fit LX (and LX only) will fetch top honors by surpassing all of its nearest competitors by offering an estimated 33 city/41 highway/36 combined miles per gallon, surpassing all other five-door B-segment cars for sale in the U.S. shows ratings of 32 city, 38 highway, and 35 combined for the CVT, and 29 city, 37 highway, and 32 combined for the manual. We assume those are EX only stats.

Driving the 2015 Honda Fit

With 130 hp on tap, the new Fit moves out pretty well, despite a somewhat noisy engine. Gearing with the manual transmission felt good. Passing power is adequate; better with the manual, obviously. You’ll need to use your gears, however.

In the handling department, I noticed a bit of body roll in the corners, but the car felt planted. The highway ride is quite comfortable, although there was some wind noise present. Road noise was at a minimum, epsecially compared to what I remember of the outgoing Fit. The car is a comfortable cruiser as much as it is great in the city. Steering is well balanced and nicely weighted. The car feels solid and responsive at any speed, and is very easy to drive.

In the braking department, the brakes seemed a bit lacking. With discs up front and drums in the rear, braking performance didn’t feel quite as good as some competitors with four-wheel disc brakes.

2015 Honda Fit Interior
The Fit is a comfortable cruiser and has good exterior visibility. The seats are supportive, firm, and have nice side and lumbar bolstering—especially nice if you have lower back problems like me. Legroom is ample in both front and rear seating areas. And, as usual, Honda has all the ergonomics down pat.

Interior build quality is superb. Attention to detail is noted just about everywhere you look: The soft dash with stitching detail; edgy but not garish interior design; smart cubbies for storage; and a dash assembly that is well thought out and placed naturally. I’d prefer a different material other than the high-gloss back gusseting surrounding the audio system, as each Fit I drove had fingerprints all over it from people using the touch screen. The longevity of its high-gloss sheen may be compromised if not cleaned on a regular basis.

All in all, Honda really gets this interior right. Hands down, it’s one of the best, if not the best subcompact car interior in its class. Along with its many safety features (like hill start assist, vehicle stability assist, as well as expanded view driver’s side mirror), the Fit is an IIHS top safety pick and is NHTSA NCAP 5-star rated for overall, frontal, and side crash occurrences.

In addition to its interior cabin amenities, the Fit boasts a class-leading cabin size that's packed into a small shell. Increased front shoulder room, passenger volume, rear leg room, as well as rear cargo capacity make this a fit for any situation. The car incorporates an additional 4.9 cubic feet of passenger volume, with an additional 4.8 inches of rear seat legroom. Honda continues to offer its legendary modular rear Magic Seats allowing for four different seating and storage modes:

Utility Mode
  • Utility mode folds the rear seats completely flat, gaining over three lineal inches of cargo space vs. the previous model and it boasts a huge 52.7 cubic feet of cargo space. Anyone want to go to IKEA with me?
Long Mode
  • Long mode folds the rear seats completely flat, and folds the passenger seat completely backward, creating a never-ending lineal inch count that could fit a few surfboards in its cabin for a fun beach retreat, or to stow the ever-important stepladder for your next home improvement project.
  • Tall mode has the rear seat bottoms lifting upwards and folding against the rear seatbacks. This opens up the entire footwell area, and is especially useful if you need to transport tall plants, a bedroom dresser, or two mountain bikes with front wheels removed, you get the idea.
  • Refresh mode creates the ultimate in relaxation. In Refresh mode, simply take off the front seat headrest, move the front seats forward, and tilt the front seatback completely flat against the base of the rear seat, et voilĂ ! Now you have a chaise lounge in your very own Fit. Fitting, eh? 
You can even use the HondaLink app on your iPhone to watch movies or TV shows on the car's screen—the perfect thing to do in Refresh mode. Plus, you can run the sound through the car's 160-180 watt stereo system (dependent on which trim level you purchase). FYI, Andriod users will have to wait until late 2014 in order to get your phone to work with HondaLink.
With the many great accoutrements, safety features, improved fuel economy ratings, and an expanded interior cabin and cargo area dimensions, Honda has packed a lot of goodness into the all-new 2015 Fit. They made the third generation Fit fit for me, you, and everyone in between. Fit forever. Fit for life, as Honda says.

We hope to do spend more time with the 2015 Honda Fit in the coming weeks, and give a full review, so say tuned for more. In the mean time, here are some specs and additional pics.

Black 2015 Honda Fit

2015 Fit Dash

Yellow 2015 Honda Fit

2015 Honda Fit taillight

Blue 2015 Honda Fit2015 Honda Fit Grille


Ducati Scotty said...

I'm glad to see Honda stepping up their game with the Fit. I was recently test driving some cars and drove a 2014 Fit Sport with manual tranny. Power seemed adequate but not much more, cabin/engine noise was kind of loud, and driver space was a little tight for my 5'11" frame, with my knee right up on the dash and center console. The 5 speed manual was slick but throws were notably long. Overall it was very 'meh' for a car that was groundbreaking not too long ago. I hope this refresh puts Honda back on the leader board for B-segment cars.

Unknown said...

As a fan of Honda's original formula of small, practical, efficient, reliable stick shift cars (and as a current gen Fit Sport owner) I really like how this new model mitigates many of the shortcomings of an already excellent vehicle. That would be a bump in power / fuel economy, even quieter cabin, more competitive tech packages, available sunroof, and you can still get it with a stick!

I wish the sportier RS version with the extra performance, tasteful side skirts, and more aggressive looking roof spoiler were available here. While everything has matured, it's unfortunate that the 6th gear retains the same ratio as the current Fit's 5th gear and still no standard rear disc brakes! I really hope the direct injection won't be a maintenance problem and that the quality control at the new plant will be up to normal Honda standards.

nlpnt said...

And it's finally on their website as a build-and-price-able current model!