The Honda Fit has long been our hands-down favorite in the subcompact car segment, its unique mix of mammoth usable cargo space, spritely handling, quality and reliability making most competitors look, feel and drive "cheap" and bland by comparison. But the current Fit, which has been on the market since 2007, is beginning to sprout patches of gray, while newer, more-efficient competitors are introduced.
That will change next year with the release of the totally redesigned third-gen 2015 Honda Fit, the car you see in front of you right now.
Set to hit dealerships in Japan this September with a U.S. release to follow in the first half of 2014, the 2015 Fit doesn't stray too far from Honda's winning formula. Exterior dimensions are essentially unchanged, though the car's wheelbase is now 2 inches longer for an even more spacious interior. Styling stays close to what we've come to expect from modern Honda, though looks bolder and more up-market thanks to sharpened creases and subtle details pulled from the new Insight Hybrid and CR-V.
Honda took inspiration from Volkswagen's subcompact Polo in designing the new Fit, with a lower seating position and a redesigned rear torsion beam suspension setup bringing a flat, buttoned-down ride. Ride quality and driving dynamics have been made a top priority, with high-speed testing on the Autobahn sure to help in creating an inexpensive subcompact that drives like a sport coupe, a formula that brought Honda to the top in the 1980s and 1990s.
Power, at least in the U.S., will most likely come from a new DOHC i-VTEC 1.5-liter Earth Dreams four-cylinder engine with around 125 horsepower. While the entry-level 1.3-liter variant probably won't be sold here, this time around the Fit Hybrid definitely will be. Using an Atkinson-cycle version of the 1.5-liter combined with a powerful electric motor and 7-speed dual-clutch auto-manual transmission, the Hybrid will be able to travel at street speeds on electric power alone, and will attain a whopping 55 mpg on the current EPA cycle, Honda says. Even the base model is expected to achieve better than 40 mpg on the highway.
Look for Honda's latest in dealerships most likely in late Spring of 2014, with pricing starting at around $15,500. That's a lot of value for a car with enough utility and efficiency for small families, students and young professionals. The Fit Hybrid will be priced from around $19,000 to directly compete with the Toyota Prius c. A pure EV model will surely follow, as well.