Thursday, October 19, 2017 The Examiner C9


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Fit adds a jaunty bit of spark

Road Test: 2018 Honda Fit Sport

Brian Harper Having been young and poor once, I can appreciate where budget-based wheels ? while hardly sexy, cosseting or luxurious ? are better than no wheels at all. And, quite frankly, today?s crop of econoboxes are certainly more completely contented than the choices I faced more than a generation ago when I was in my 20s ? that would be the back half of the Sucking Seventies. Having sampled cars such as Nissan?s Versa Note, the Chevy Sonic and Ford?s Fiesta fairly recently, I look upon features such as air conditioning, heated seats, power windows and decent audio systems, with unabashed jealousy, stifling with great difficulty the urge to say, ?Back in my day .? Which brings me to one of the better-selling and better-looking subcompacts, and its newest trim level for 2018: the Honda Fit Sport. That said, the subcompact segment is not doing particularly well; sales in Canada through August of this year are down almost 27 per cent from the previous year. The new model year sees the third-generation Fit?s first update since the launch of the 2015 model in 2014. All trims get a slight facelift, with a two-piece chrome and black grille with a larger, more prominent emblem. The headlights are better integrated into the side edges of the upper fascia?s wing, and the front bumper sports top chrome accents, a full-width splitter, along with more angular foglight pods. At the rear, the bumper has been redesigned and now features a full-width character line in black and a splitter-shaped lower section. Plus, the tail-light combo has been redesigned. Positioned in the middle of the Fit model range, the new Sport looks even more, well, sporty. It has aerodynamic body pieces at the front, sides and rear, including a low front splitter highlighted in bright orange. The 16-inch alloy wheels are finished in black and, at the rear, a three-strake diffuser with bright orange trim line, chrome exhaust finisher and Sport badge complete the revisions. Unfortunately, the Sport name doesn?t translate into more zoom; it gets the same 130-horsepower, 1.5-litre DOHC four-cylinder as the other trims. Fortunately, the subcompact four-door weighs a light 1,161 kilograms with the six-speed manual, so it will move with enough enthusiasm to keep up with traffic, as long as you let the revs build and don?t shortshift. And the standard six-speed (a CVT is optional) is reasonably precise in operation, though lacking the crispness that makes rowing through the gears a joy. As expected of a subcompact, fuel efficiency is a given. Even though a series of events both planned and unexpected kept me in the city for the entire week I was testing the Fit, it delivered 8.2 L/100 kilometres, and the very-low-mileage car was still being broken in. Although the Fit has absolutely no sporting pretensions whatsoever ? despite the name ? driving dynamics aren?t bad at all. Honda has made some noteworthy improvements for 2018, with retuned suspension dampers, more rigid steering and additional body reinforcements. The cabin also sees some revisions that result in a quieter ride, with improved transmission and steering-system mounting hardware, along with acousticlaminated glass and more insulation throughout the hatchback. All good so far. There?s only one big problem with the Fit: it doesn?t. Fit, that is. Or, to be less obtuse, I don?t fit in the Fit, not comfortably at least. There?s not enough room to stretch out my legs on longer trips. Sure, I?m six-foot-two, but it?s not as if that?s circus freakish. Yet for some reason, Honda sacrifices driver comfort ? front-seat legroom ? for extra back-seat room. Indeed, it?s very generous. I can sit behind the driver?s seat and not have my knees touch the seat back. And that doesn?t make sense to me. That?s my beef, though. Needless to say, those of shorter dimensions will be less compromised. Speaking of which, my very ?untall? wife pointed out that the front of the car ?disappears? beyond the windshield, courtesy of the significant downward slope of the hood and fenders. Plus, a rather deep dashboard exacerbates the lack of visibility from the front seats. This can make parking a guessing game until one gets used to where the Fit begins and ends. Another issue for those who prefer using a manual tranny is that only the CVT-equipped models get the Honda Sensing suite of safety features, which include adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation, lane-keeping assist, lane-departure warning, road-departure mitigation and road-departure warning. Still,

The Specs

Type of vehicle: Front-wheeldrive subcompact hatch Engine: 1.5-L DOHC fourcylinder Power: 130 hp at 6,600 rpm, 114 lb-ft of torque at 4,600 rpm Transmission: Six-speed manual Brakes: Front disc/rear drum with ABS Tires: P185/55HR16 Price: $15,190 base/$19,590 as tested Destination charge: $1,723 Natural Resources Canada fuel economy (L/100 km): 8.1 city, 6.6 highway Standard features (Sport trim): Body-coloured and heated power exterior mirrors, front lower spoiler, bodycoloured door handles and rear spoiler, fog lights, LED brake lights, automatic headlights, rear exhaust finisher and bumper diffuser, tilt/ telescoping steering column, air conditioning, cargo cover, HandsFreeLink bilingual Bluetooth wireless mobile phone interface, multi-angle rear-view camera, power windows, remote entry, cruise control, 60/40-split rear seats, heated front seats, leatherwrapped steering wheel and shift knob, hill-start assist, vehicle-stability assist with traction control, brake assist and more Options: None it?s not as though stick-loving drivers are completely left out in the cold; hill-start assist, brake assist and vehicle-stability assist with traction control are all standard. It?s hard to get emotional about basic transportation, though I suppose I might feel differently if it was my first new car (and I was shorter). Yet the Fit Sport has a reasonably jaunty vibe to it that complements an equally reasonable amount of content. As a new trim level, it integrates nicely into the Fit lineup, and adds a bit of spark to the subcompact segment.

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