- What’s Good - Fun, comfortable and useful at a value price
- What’s Bad - Some modern motorists may not like the traditional low to the ground seating
Cheap and cheerful. It is an old saying that in today’s too easily offended society might imply that a product was being referred to in a negative light. Nothing could be further from the truth, however, as the term was often applied to vehicles such as the original Mini, VW bug and even the first few generations of Honda Civic. Cars that were loved not only for their fun demeanor but for their affordability.
The current versions of all three of those vehicles are missing something from both the cheap and cheerful side. Especially the cheap side.
Fortunately for Honda fans, the brand still offers one vehicle that proudly fits the description.
First introduced in back in 2001, the Honda Fit slotted in beneath the Civic, size wise, as Honda’s iconic model continued its growth curve. Known as the Jazz in other markets the running joke is that pretty much anything fits into a Fit.
The concept is remarkably simple. Take a small four-door hatchback, put a bit of thought into the rear bench seat configuration and produce it at an affordable price. The product that came to market fit the concept perfectly, also boasting fantastic fuel economy and being surprisingly fun to drive.
In 2008, my best friend bought a first generation Fit, spurred on by the reputation the car had earned as being one of the most reliable models on the market. With the high side of 260,000 km on the clock, he sold the wee ride to my daughter a couple of years ago. She adds about 50 km per day to that tally and the Fit never misses a beat. The only issue the car has ever had is the failure of the air conditioning system. Rather than have it fixed, Ms. Grant chooses to employ the old school method of driving with the windows open when the weather finally warms up. Beyond that and a rear hatch handle that needs to be lubricated regularly, the little car soldiers on with glee.
Fast forward to 2019 and the Fit is in its third generation. Despite it having been on the market for close to five years, I can’t recall having driven this generation, so we as a family were looking forward to spending a week with it.
The first thing one notices about the current Fit is that it appears to be larger than the original, and it is. At 4,099 mm long, today’s Fit is 99 mm longer than the first gen. 1,675 mm wide in 2001, the Fit has gained 19 mm in width.
Depending on options, a current Fit weighs anywhere from 1,133 to 1,203 kg, up markedly from 2001 when it weighed in at a svelte, for the time 1,084. To put this into perspective for the old folks, the current Fit weighs in at more than 2,600 lbs.
Fortunately, Honda still knows how to engineer a bit of fun into a chassis, as the current model is just as perky as the original on the road. While the uninitiated may not grasp how driving an entry-level grocery-getter can be considered fun, it has long been said by those who get it, that there is more enjoyment to be had in driving a slow car briskly than there is in driving a fast car within the speed limit.
First introduced as a 2017 model, the current generation Fit is powered by a direct injected 1,498 cc, 16-valve four banger that creates a more than ample 130 horsepower and 113/114 lb-ft of torque, depending on the transmission chosen.
A 6-speed manual is standard issue for DX, LX and Sport models, while a CVT unit is optional for LX and Sport, standard on EX and EX-L. Our tester was an LX with optional CVT, which made me sad because that choice dumbs down the fun factor a bit.
Sadly, in today’s increasingly shiftless society, most buyers will likely gravitate towards the seamless operation of the CVT.
Perhaps the most noticeable improvement over the years is the interior. The early cars were super for their place in the market and as personal experience tells me, the interiors stood up well to years of use. Today’s car has matured, offering a much more comfortable cabin experience, yet still using materials which look up to the task. At one point, we drove the Fit with 5 adult sized occupants and there wasn’t a single complaint of a lack of space or leg room. Most importantly, the level of utility remains intact, including that magic folding rear seat.
In a time when buyers are choosing to drive crossovers and SUVs in droves, there is something about driving a vehicle which appears at first glance to be small in stature, which in fact offers a level of comfort, style, and utility that matches or betters many larger vehicles. Add in great fuel economy and the ability to zip in and out of tight parking spaces, and a cheap and cheerful ride like the Honda Fit is totally worth experiencing.
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