Exterior Design: ***
Fans of Hello Kitty's ber cuteness will likely enjoy the Fit styling a bit more than those who dig GI JOE with lifelike hair. We could also be wrong about that. The design is entertaining if not a textbook case of form following function. Sport version adds trick rear spoiler and other sporty bits to give a bit more GT style to the cute box look. We like the goofy grin, but you may not.
Interior Design: ****
Everything is right where it should be. Buttons click accordingly. Plastic is not super fancy, but is well executed to the point it helps the driver not think of it as bad plastic. Plastic is used in a plastic fashion that functions exactly as expected. Simple and intuitive knobs thankfully replace Apollo rocket program button-and-switch arrays. Lots of room even for large guys thanks to an efficient use of space.
Respectable power for 1500cc's of VTEC power. Not much to play with in the lower RPM ranges, but completely enjoyable above the 3500 or so rpm mark. The opening of valves is accompanied by just enough intake trumpet and valve growl to provide freeway on ramps and right foot rev happiness with a proper accompaniment. The little engine almost tells you directly to install a cold air intake for improved sonic amusement.
In normal mixed use driving around the mean streets of Los Angeles and Ventura counties the binders functioned as they should. Not much of a nose dive decelerating off freeway ramps, and no complaints in amateur driver avoidance maneuvers. Even sheets of rain and errant Ford vans with rolls of carpet extending out its flapping rear doors brought no braking drama from the Fit.
While we can't vouch for the standard Fit the sport version was a little choppy at the California speed limit over the 101 going through the valley. Around town at city speeds the Fit ate up the chuckholes and steel construction plates fairly well for a tiny short wheelbase car with smallish wheels. Our passenger didn't notice any chop but did keep leaning over to check corner speeds.
The Fit stays planted on line into corners and leaves with surprising predictability for a front driver. The engine spins out just enough power to the front wheels as not to compete with lateral traction, making the Fit a fun handler through chicanes and corkscrews. A set of UHP tires could turn the Fit into big fun and return a to a smile to the driver bigger than the one it wears.
The Fit gearbox telescopes precision right up though the driver's hand with a satisfying click and subsequent click from the shifter with each gear selection. We thought about shifting for all of three seconds and then shifted according to engine soundtrack. Click-klik. Klik-click. VTEC-klik. Automatic Fit Sport is available with paddle wheel shift selector.
Even though he's been known to shill for Mitsubishi, we tested the system using the barely intelligible yet stalwart croakings of none other than Mark E. Smith accompanied by a (surely) now disbanded version of the Fall. The stock system won't win any decibel contests, but the single knob control worked well and was welcome in a world of overly complex audio interfaces. Auxiliary input in lower center console perfect for use with that portable 8-Track player. Bonus for blue tone lighting.
With gas-sipping mileage, enjoyable performance, excellent build quality, and a good measure of practical cargo and people carrying ability, the Honda Fit Sport is an excellent value for the money. You can get something similar for less, but by the time fancy wheels and optional bits are added to the list the sticker prices start to merge.
The entire vehicle can either be a very fun toy or everyday practical automobile. Deciding on which depends largely on the moment, what rpm reads on the tachometer, and what needs to be stuffed into the deceivingly large interior. Even the day night selector on the rear view mirror evoked a sense of wonder.
While the Fit harbors no trunk it does have loads of space for a car of sub-compact size. Since the engineers stashed the fuel tank up under the front seats the entire rear of the vehicle to fold flat for hauling. Rear seats can also be folded up against themselves for flat and low space directly behind the front seats for hauling potted plants, cheap furniture made of Soviet-era glue and sawdust, or Sector9 long boards.
The Honda Fit is a truly fun-to-drive subcompact econobox with some innovative features and a great deal of character. Build quality is 100% Japanese. A subcompact vehicle may not be the answer for for a more than three-person drivership, but the Fit makes sense on many levels that defy its size. If we had any, we would put our money on a five-speed Fit Sport as an inter-urban runabout or country going mini space wagon.