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April 18, 2006 > 2007 Honda Fit

2007 Honda Fit

by Dick Ryan

Fit is the newest Honda to go on sale in the USA. It's a sporty, subcompact, four-door with a hatchback. It goes on sale April 20 as a 2007 model. Fit has been sold in Japan and Europe since 2001, so US buyers don't have to worry about the "this is a brand new untested car" issues.

Power for this front wheel driver comes from Honda's reliable, 1.5- liter VTEC, four valves per cylinder motor. The variable valve timing and lift system allows the motor to develop 109 horsepower (and 105 foot pounds of torque). Two transmissions are available, a 5-speed manual and a 5-speed automatic.

Our test Fit Sport had the automatic. Normally, I'm not a fan of automatics (especially in 100 HP cars), but I loved this one. Bring the floor mounted shift lever all the way back and select "S" (Sport). Then the Fit turns into a paddle shifter exotic car. There is a small paddle behind the left and right sides of the steering wheel that allows you to shift without taking your hands off the wheel. Squeezing the right paddle up-shifts the Fit and the left one is for downshifting. This is a very unusual addition to an inexpensive car. Paddle shifting allows you to have all the fun and quick response of a manual transmission, while being able to select a normal "Drive" setting in stop and go traffic.

Surprisingly, there is very little fuel economy penalty for choosing the automatic. The EPA estimates are 33 miles per gallon (mpg) city and 38 mpg highway for the manual Fit. Honda uses a special lockup clutch inside the automatic transmission that eliminates slippage. This means that the automatic's EPA estimates only drop a small amount to 31 mpg city and 37 mpg highway.

The Fit lineup has many different safety features. Its four-channel ABS system is "state of the art." Although we did not get a chance to perform any controlled braking tests, the brakes performed very well.

Six airbags are standard on the Fit, two in the dash and two in the front corners. Two side curtain airbags along the sides of the roof protect the front and rear outboard passengers from hitting their heads on the windows in side collisions. The Fit chassis utilizes a large portion of high tensile strength steel that produces great government crash test results.

The Fit is tall for a small car so ingress and egress is very easy for its five passengers. It also has a huge amount of interior space for a car that is only 157.4 inches long. The rear seats fold down to increase the cargo carrying capacity from 21 to 42 cubic feet.

Standard features include air conditioning, power windows, and a 160-watt, four speaker, AM/FM/CD sound system. And, there are plenty of storage compartments. An upgrade to Fit Sport changes the sound system to 200 watts and six speakers. It also adds a bodywork kit, a spoiler on the rear, fog lights and 15-inch wheels.

Fit's base price is $13,850. The manual transmission Fit Sport will list in the $15,200 range. Adding the automatic transmission to either one ups the ante only $800.

Our Nighthawk Black Pearl Fit Sport test car was a ball to drive. It was peppy (remember it only has 109 HP) and sporty. The paddle shifter was easy to use and let us keep the VETC motor up in the power band. When pushed hard, it was not as "buzzy" as other smaller motors. It handled very well for a subcompact five-seat car.

Dick Ryan has been an automotive journalist for 15 years. He and his wife Connie have been racing sports cars for more than 35 years. His current mount is a vintage Formula Vee, a small, open-wheel car that looks like a one-quarter scale Indianapolis racecar. Dick is a member of the Western Automotive Journalists. For more information contact Dick at RRYAN@FRK.COM.

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