MARION, N.C. -- Buck Creek Road slithers around the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina as we sample the surprisingly sporty road manners of the redesigned 2015 Honda Fit, an itsy-bitsy econo-car conformed as a 5-door hatchback and outfitted with a fuel-stingy engine.
Fit for 2015 marks the third generation of Honda's subcompact and measures 2.2 inches less in overall length than the second generation Fit yet gains 1.2 inches in wheelbase length. The 5-seat passenger compartment adds 4.9 cubic feet of space with rear seat legroom increasing by 4.8 inches and rear cargo space also rising -- up 4.6 cubic feet to a generous 16.6 cubic feet total with rear seatbacks up.
Honda designed a new body structure for Fit coupled to a lighter-weight yet stronger and more rigid platform.
The suspension system is compact to carve out more space for the passenger compartment and forge a low floor for easy entry. Honda installs independent MacPherson struts in front with a stabilizer bar and an H-shaped torsion beam with stabilizer bar in the rear.
The steering system employs electric power assistance, which eliminates a load of hydraulic equipment and contributes to the efficiency of Fit's wee engine.
Brakes utilize front ventilated discs and rear drums with electronic linkage to a standard anti-lock brake system (ABS) with electronic brake force distribution (EBD) and brake assist (BA), plus vehicle stability assist (VSA) with a traction control system (TCS).
Fit's new front-wheel-drive powertrain consists of a thrifty 4-cylinder engine linked to either a 6-speed manual transmission or a fuel-saving continuously variable transmission (CVT) with G-Shift Control sport mode.
The dual-cam 1.5-liter in-line-4 plant is constructed from aluminum and has a drive-by-wire throttle, direct fuel injection and Honda's variable value timing and lift electronic control (i-VTEC) valvetrain technology. It makes 130 hp at 6600 rpm plus torque of 114 lb-ft at 4600 rpm.
Fit's small stature and a curb weight under 2600 pounds factor into the car's high fuel economy scores. Fit rigged with a manual transmission earns fuel burn scores of 29 mpg for city driving and 37 mpg on a highway. With the CVT aboard, Fit hits 33/41 mpg city/highway.
With a roof topping out at only five feet high and the pint-size body only 13 feet long, little Fit resembles a sleek bullet dominated by a quick-sloped windshield and the Honda signature narrow grille with flanking headlamp clusters mounted on front corners.
On each side, the vertical lines tip slightly inward as sharp corners fade into rounded edges to disguise an otherwise boxy form. Flanks carry undulating ripples coursing front to rear with flares around wheelwells filled by tire rubber.
The rear liftgate stretches down to the back bumper, its bottom edge aligning with the floor of a rear cargo bay. And there are new LED taillamps mounted midway up rear corners and connected by a flashy chrome bar running along the bottom edge of the liftgate window.
Take a seat in Fit's cabin and discover it's roomy inside despite overall dimensions which tie Fit to the smallest category of all cars.
The seat plan shows twin bolstered sport buckets in front of a bench with 60/40 seatback split.
Honda calls the bench a "Magic Seat" as seatbacks dive down and bottom sections flip up to vary configurations for passengers and cargo. The rear seatbacks can fold away to form a virtually flat cargo floor or the front seats will recline flush with rear seat bottoms to make a long and flat cushioned area like a bed.
A clean and efficient layout for the cockpit sets the instrument panel below an arched bonnet. Circular analog instruments in white-on-black backlit fields include a large speedometer and tachometer.
Honda builds the new Fit in three grades -- LX, EX and EX-L (the latter adds "L" to denote leather upholstery).
The 2015 Fit LX trim stocks standard equipment like air conditioning, cruise control, power controls for windows and door locks and mirrors, a tilting/telescoping steering wheel with audio/phone/cruise controls, keyless entry device, rearview camera, Bluetooth phone connection and a 4-speaker audio kit with AM/FM/CD/USB and a 5-inch color LCD display.
2015 Honda Fit
Engine size: 1.5-liter
MSRP: Starting at $15,525
MPG: 33 city/41 highway
Curb weight: 2,513 lbs to 2,642 lbs
2015 Honda Fit LX Manual
2015 Honda Fit LX CVT
2015 Honda Fit EX Manual
2015 Honda Fit EX CVT
2015 Honda Fit EX-L