Third-generation Honda updates styling and technology, but maintains the manual-shift driving experience
It was hard for me to believe it had been more than a decade since I’d driven a Honda Fit, probably because it had been such a pleasant experience, writing at the time that the Fit was, indeed, well-suited, worthy, ready and athletic when it first became part of the Honda lineup.
Interesting that Honda (Fit), Nissan (Versa) and Toyota (Yaris) all launched new subcompacts at the same time. Of the three, the Fit was the most fun to drive, even when it had an automatic transmission.
So here we are a decade later and the Fit is in its third generation and I’ve just spent a week driving one, this time with a 6-speed manual, all the better to take full advantage of what the car’s 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine provides. What it provides is a mere 130 horsepower and 114 pound-feet of torque, but that’s sufficient when you get to shift for yourself as I’ve been doing in the 2018 Fit Sport.
For 2018 the Fit gets new styling, a new Sport trim package, additional technology and refinements that Honda says give the car “new attitude.” Perhaps, but I’ve always thought it had plenty of spunk.
Design changes include a lower and wider look, new grill and new wheels. New tech includes the Honda Sensing suite including that availability of collision mitigation braking and road departure mitigation.
Opt for the Sport setup and you get an aero-body kit, integrate fog lamps, lower and shaper front splitter and three-strake rear diffuser — both trimmed in orange — 16-inch wheels (our test car wearing grippy Firestone tires), and a chrome exterior exhaust tip.
And that’s just the exterior changes. Inside, there’s a black cross-hatched fabric with orange stitching, plus audio with a 7-inch display screen and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility and a 180-watt, 6-speaker setup.
Honda’s manual gearboxes are a driver’s delight. The clutch pickup point is easy to find and forgiving should you commit a foot foul. The gearbox falls readily to hand when you drop if off the steering wheel. Shifts are quick and sure and the drivetrain responds with enjoyable performance.
Cornering is fun and makes you wish there was an autocross competition in the next parking lot you find.
And all this fun comes for just $17,500, plus destination charges. It’s a bang-for-the-buck delight.
2018 Honda Fit 5-door Sport
Vehicle type: 5-passenger hatchback, front-wheel drive
Base price: $17,500 Price as tested: $18,390
Engine: 1.5-liter four-cylinder, 130 horsepower @ 6,600 rpm, 114 pound-feet of torque @ 4,600 rpm Transmission: 6-speed manual
Wheelbase: 99.6 inches Overall length/width: 161.8 inches / 67.0 inches
Curb weight: 2,553 pounds
EPA mileage estimates: 29 city / 36 highway / 31 combined
Assembled in: Celaya, Guanajuato, Mexico