Imagine the discussion somewhere in the most secret offices of Honda Motors.
“We must have a name for our new mini car when we take it to America.”
“Yes, and it must be something that fits.”
“My goodness, I can’t think of anything that hasn’t been taken. We don’t do animals, alphanumerics are boring and Toyota has a lock on names that have obscure meaning and really mean nothing at all. At Honda we have Accord, Civic and Insight. For this compact, we need something that will fit Honda.”
“Yes, a name for a Honda in which everything fits, and a Honda that fits just about everywhere it goes.”
“Uh huh, we need a name with that Honda fit.”
“Hmmm. Can’t think of a thing.”
We doubt this apocryphal discussion actually happened, but we made it up because it isn’t often we can use “apocryphal” in a car review. That and to make a point about the Honda Fit, mainly that the name fits.
The Honda Fit, with an overall length of 157.4 inches inches, fits in urban parking spots that will have Honda Civics, at 176 inches bumper-to-bumper, circling the block waiting for someone to leave.
The design, however, pushes the wheels out to the corners of the Honda mini for a wheelbase of 96.5 inches, one factor in a smoother, less rocky, ride. The longer space between the wheels means the seats in the middle bump up less when one or the other end bumps up over a bump.
Pushing the wheels out also means there’s more room between the big round space-hungry objects for people and their stuff to fit.
Not infrequently, however, manufacturers can’t seem to combine fitness for urban duty with styling that can’t generously be described as funky or idiosyncratic. Honda, despite the Fit’s tall profile, has delivered a well integrated design. The add-on aero devices, the front “spoiler” under its chin, the trim on the rocker panels, and the little spoiler above the rear hatch, look like they belong.
Inside Honda’s recent sci-fi interior design is employed once again, with details such as the cylinder-shaped air vents top center on the dash. Different textures somehow don’t clash: golf ball dimples on the shifter grip, crosshatch on the dash, smooth around the instrument panel and fabric scallops in the door panels.
The Fit has a moderately capacious glove box, and Honda has reinvented radio controls. The radio face is peculiar, with a large volume knob on the left, but it’s sufficiently intuitive that we considered it possibly better than the conventional two-knob arrangement.
Oddly, the front floor mats have holes that look they were designed to fit over pegs to hold them in place…but there are no pegs in the floor.
The front seats in the 2007 Honda Fit Sport are truly sport seats, well cushioned and bolstered for spirited driving, yet most glutes will fit without duress. Most will fit in the back seat as well. They’re close set to the front seatbacks, but their height off the floor and toe room under the front seats maximize leg room and make life tolerable for the average size adult male.
The seats have more positions, however, than Cirque d’ Soleil’s Chinese contortionists. In addition to the usual back seat that folds flat (after the rear seat bottom folds forward and the headrests removed and stowed)), the rear seats can be positioned to make cargo space where the rear seatbottom normally would be, or the whole shebang can be folded flat to make a bed—Honda calls it “Refresh”—which would make this Honda Fit non-fitting for your daughter to go to a date at the drive-in movies. Which, come to think of it, isn’t a good idea in any vehicle, if memory serves.
Typical of two-box econo people movers, the A-pillars are thick as Ahnold’s forearms, restricting outward vision and requiring the usual front quarter windows.
The little Honda VTEC engine fits easily under the Fit’s hood, with room between it and the firewall for generous crush space.
The 2007 Honda Fit’s 1497cc engine is rated at 109 horsepower with 105 lb-ft of torque, promising rather tepid performance were it not for the Fit Sport’s 2551 lb curb weight. (The base Fit with the 5-speed manual transmission weighs 2432 lbs, making it, um, faster than Sport). With minimal loading, the Honda Fit’s performance is reasonably sprightly. Adding weight, however, will slow a lightweight/low horsepower car more than a heavier, higher horsepower car. In other words, your performance—and mileage—will vary.
“Typically Honda smooth” describes the Fit’s engine and goes well enough with a definite surge as the VTEC kicks in about 3000 rpm. It revs to 6500, hardly radical by Honda standard, but every rev is usable. The engine doesn’t go flat or soft or fuzzy-buzzy on the top end. But there’s a definite feel that the 1.5 liter four finds even the Fit’s relatively modest weight a chore, It’s quick enough about town, but an uphill merge onto an Interstate highway will make the Fit work hard for every MPH.
At highway speed, using the cruise on hilly terrain will regularly have the automatic transmission requesting extra revs and downshifts out of fifth gear. The center stack-mounted shifter for our automatic-equipped Honda Fit had a shift quadrant marked “PRNDS,” the “S” apparently standing for Sport because it allows use of the paddle shifters on the steering wheel. It’s a conventional automatic transmission, not a sophisticated rev-matching trans. A conventional automatic, it still shifts quickly so gear changes don’t have to be planned so far in advance.