One of the things we're constantly advocating here on Jalopnik is simple, well-engineered cars that are both fun to drive and have high utility. Honda has traditionally been a stalwart of those values, delivering cars that did everything we wanted and needed without frills and complication. Sadly, we found the 2008 Honda Accord did just the opposite. Like the new Accord, the 2009 the Honda Fit is also bigger and heavier. Also like the Accord, we're wondering whether it's lost its fundamental rightness in the pursuit of an impressive spec sheet.
The original Fit went on sale in the US in 2006. Driving the 2007 Honda Fit Sport, Mike Bumbeck reported, "The Honda Fit is a truly fun-to-drive subcompact econobox with some innovative features and a great deal of character." That car developed a cult following not just for its cute and cuddly looks, but for the extremely capacious interior, frugal fuel economy and, most importantly its fun drive.
For 2009, the Fit is a little heavier (2,661 Lbs to 2,551), a little longer (161.6" to 157.4) and a little more powerful (117 HP to 105. But, it's not any less economical. In fact, at 30 MPG combined, it's one up on the outgoing model. Most noticeably, it now looks like a jellybean.
The Fit has developed enough of a reputation that, when we jumped into the new model to rush to La Guardia, motorcycle designer JT Nesbitt recognized the car and looked forward to riding in it. That feeling lasted as we loaded it up with three six-foot plus biker badasses, a week's worth of winter luggage and hit the road at 6pm on a snowy weeknight with only an hour to go to catch a departing flight.
Once we got going, it was a different story. With a redline bumped up from 6,300 to 6,800 RPM and a ready willingness to kick down from the paddle shifters (we were sadly lumped with an automatic transmission) the Fit makes you very aware that its engine is working hard to deliver its 9-second 0-60 time. Heading out of Greenpoint and up the challenging off-road course that doubles as the Brooklyn Queens Expressway I was using every one of those revs to push the car hard through traffic. Realizing that JT had stopped asking questions about the car I looked over to seem him white knuckled and wide-eyed, fearing for his life not on a land speed record motorcycle, but a friendly-looking hatchback.
The 2009 Fit is every bit as good to drive as its predecessor, rewarding drivers for finding the hidden depths that lie behind the cushy ride and propensity for body roll. Smaller than most other cars on the road, you cannot only exploit gaps in traffic, but the width of the road itself, shifting position in corners for added-visibility and therefore speed. The fit is the first fun-to-drive car I've been able to do that in since I owned my last E30.
Arriving home later that night the Fit's tiny dimensions helped again. Instead of playing the usual New York game of hunting for parking spots for 20 minutes or more, I was able to squeeze into a tiny space right outside of my apartment. It may not be the fastest, nor best looking vehicle on sale, but at just $14,750 it offers a better driving experience than many cars that cost twice as much and has the interior space of cars twice the size. In short, it's exactly the kind of simple, well-engineered, fun-to-drive, practical affordable car we've been asking for.