Yoshinori Nakamura is one hell of a foosball player. His laptop bears a sticker that says 'CO2 Minimize.' His job title, as best I can figure it, is
Assistant Large Project Leader/Body Design. He's the very image of a Honda company man, and he's the guy responsible for cooking up the new Honda Fit. I
wouldn't trade places with Nakamura for anything.
Totally redesigned for 2015, the new Fit takes up the where the old Fit left off. The biggest indicator of the weight placed on the shoulders of Nakamura
and his team is presented via PowerPoint in a slide titled "Development Direction: The 'Super Cub' of the automotive world." It's an ambitious goal, indeed, and
the spec sheet indicates that Honda has succeeded, with improvements on just about everything an engineer can improve. We tried out the all-new third-generation Fit in San Diego to find out how it all comes together. Here's what we learned:
Well hello, new engine
The new direct-injected 1.5-liter four-cylinder is good for 130 hp. That suits us just fine. The engine nets a solid 13-hp gain on the outgoing
It's still got it
The manual transmission, that is. The 2015 Fit gets a new six-speed manual gearbox that's a decent match for the more powerful engine. Ergonomics still
feel economical, but there's no doubt the manual transmission is the choice for anyone with even a hint of enthusiasm. Curiously, sixth gear maintains the
same ratio as last year's five-speed, resulting in a similarly strained highway RPM.
If we can't talk you into the manual, don't sweat the selection of Honda's new CVT. With seven virtual gears, selected via paddle-shifter, and slightly
improved fuel economy 28/35/31 vs. the manual's 27/33/29, there's a pretty solid argument for letting the Fit do all the hard work. We won't judge. Much.
Looks bigger, got shorter
The Fit grew in every important dimension, adding room for passengers inside and wheelbase outside. It looks bigger in the flesh, too, all while trimming an
inch off of overall length.
A more muscular body design is responsible for the increased perception of size. It looks younger, the head and taillights are aggressive, lines are crisp,
and design elements like the blacked-out grill give the Fit a harder edge. What can't be debated are improvements in the coefficient of drag, accomplished
with lots of underbody smoothing and clever tricks like slippery pillar garnishes.
It will still hold all your cacti
Cars carry people and pets and things. Pound for pound, the Fit does that better than any car on the road. Four different interior modes accommodate just
about anything you'd think to put inside a car. As before, a thoughtful rear-seat design allows the seat bottom to fold upward and allow the vertical
transportation of ... well, of whatever. We imagine cacti and apartment-sized Christmas trees.
Thanks to an increase in rear passenger room, you can shoehorn an additional 3.1 inches of bicycle or surfboard into the back. Or find a sleeping bag, fold
all the seats flat, and use the room for yourself. Nakamura says that redesigning and flattening the center-mounted fuel tank created the additional room.
We're pleased, as it's still the most utilitarian interior in the industry.
Honda's infotainment technology is back in the fight
A long list of standard and optional equipment nudges the Fit back to the top of the technology heap. Of particular interest, the HondaLink system can be
paired with a $60 phone app to offload GPS navigation responsibilities onto your handheld device.
If you're looking for a partner in crime, look elsewhere
Don't get me wrong: The Fit will help get you into plenty of trouble. The chassis is up for a canyon jaunt, and you can make the most of those 130
hp with the manual gearbox, but there are better and quicker options if you're asking your compact car to hustle. The Mazda 2 springs to mind. That
said, if you want to haul ass with an upright potted plant, there's no finer option.
10% + 10% + 10% = 10%
Honda's total redesign made for lots of little improvements to a car we already liked. All these changes, each 10 percent improvement after the next, add up to a
car that might be only 10 percent better than the one it replaces. Since that car was excellent, 10 percent improvement is enough.