With the launch of the hybrid version of the Fit imminent, I thought it appropriate to take a look at the Executive version of the car that replaced the Honda Jazz on the local market.
Throughout it’s history the Jazz enjoyed quite some success locally even though it was often referred to by the less politically correct among us as a ‘girls’ car.
At the launch of the Fit, Honda South Africa said the decision to rebrand the model was, in part, to broaden the customer base by creating a visually exciting offering with more emotional appeal to add to the rational appeal of practicality and function that characterised the Jazz.
To achieve this, Honda focused on a new design philosophy, encapsulated in the Japanese notion of ‘Yoo no bi’ that recognises the beauty that exists in everyday items, which have been perfected over time to make them even more appealing and ergonomically satisfying to use for their specific purpose.
In that they have succeeded and the Fit presents a compact, yet perfectly proportioned, body with an intelligently constructed interior that is both contemporary and timeless – and, above all, the whole package coming with a welcome feeling of solid workmanship that Honda manages to ingest into vehicles.
Smooth contours follow the short nose, long roof line and cabin-forward style of previous generations, to form the monoform silhouette, while the smooth exterior surface treatment achieve a visual balance, with all the different exterior surfaces, including the C-pillars and rear combination lamps, blended together, devoid of any lines.
The A-pillar thickness has been more than halved from 116 mm to just 55 mm with the pillar behind now providing the main structural strength. This, along with the hidden windscreen wipers, provides the driver and front seat passenger with an unobstructed, almost panoramic field of vision.
The overall height is reduced by 13 mm, which combines with a forward-leaning tailgate design to create a more compact-looking, well-balanced cabin.
The uncluttered dashboard incorporates a slim instrument panel that sweeps horizontally across the cabin. The central HMI 9-inch touchscreen (standard on Elegance and Executive grades) and 7-inch full TFT instrument cluster which is standard across the range, are simple and easy to read.
The luggage capacity (with rear seats up) starts from 309 litres and increases to 1 210 litres (to the roof with the rear seats down).
Also key to maximising cabin room is the positioning of the fuel tank in the centre of the chassis beneath the front seats, which is unique in this class. This enables the Fit to retain the Magic Seat configuration that offers both fold-flat or flip-up seat flexibility.
Front seat occupants also benefit from Honda’s newly developed body stabilising seat frame featuring a new premium mat structure for additional support and an increase of 30 mm in seat padding thickness for extra comfort.
Adults in the second row also travel in increased comfort thanks to the redesign of the Magic Seat structure allowing the hinges to be moved outside of the passenger hip points. Rear leg space of 986 mm – made possible by the torsion beam suspension lay out – and an increase of 24 mm in seat padding thickness also adds to the enhanced comfort levels.
The LCD touchscreen is navigated using familiar smartphone-style usability, with swipe controls to scroll through pages and lists. The display can be configured to suit any usage requirements, incorporating customisable shortcuts to frequently used functions and audio sources.
The suite of in-built apps can be supplemented by smartphone mirroring, enabled by Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, with the latter available via wireless connection.
The Fit petrol models are equipped with a 1,5-litre DOHC i-VTEC petrol engine generating a power output of 89 kW at 6 600 r/min and torque of 145 Nm at 4 300 r/min. Fuel consumption is claimed at 5,5 l/100 km and CO2 emissions are 132 g/km.
My dislike of CVT transmissions continued unaltered – but Honda does have one of the best on the market that at least manages to find a suitable gear quite quickly and without too much of the sickly whining that is so evident on many other versions of this transmission type.
While no racer, the Sport option on the Fit further improves the accuracy and speed of gear selection but, obviously, does so at a cost to the overall consumption. On test, my overall average – with a mix of driving modes – finished at 6,2 l/100 km.
Honda enhanced the car’s chassis, suspension and body rigidity which, along with of an aluminium die-cast rear damper mount structure and a low front roll centre enhances stability that is easy to feel on our more potholed and damaged road surfaces.
The Fit has decent enough road manners and will comfortably respond to vigorous intent from the driver and remain neutral through all but the sharpest bends, where it does have some initial understeer.
Stopping power comes from an all-disc braking system featuring 262 mm ventilated front discs and 239 mm solid discs at the rear. Electronic brake systems include: Vehicle Stability Assist, Brake Assist System, Hill Start Assist and Automatic Brake Hold.
The Honda Fit comes standard with a 5-year/200 000 km warranty, as well as a 4-year/60 000 km Service Plan with 15 000 km service intervals.
Just leaves it for me to say the Honda is a perfect Fit for everyday urban cruising. . .and all that jazz!