2009 Honda Fit
2009 Honda Fit. Click image to enlarge

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2009 Honda Fit

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Honda Canada

Review and photos by Paul Williams

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2009 Honda Fit

Montreal, Quebec – With the increasing consumer interest in small cars as primary or secondary vehicles, the range of subcompacts available in Canada has been expanding and improving. The Honda Fit, introduced only two years ago, arrives for 2009 as a completely revised and reengineered model. Why so soon? The previous model was available in Europe and Asia for several years, and was due for replacement. The new version has more appealing and modern styling, and many new features to recommend it, including bigger standard wheels, improved visibility, tilt and telescopic steering, trip computer, new drivetrain and suspension enhancements.

Autos has already published a full First Drive of the 2009 Honda Fit, but my experience with the car impressed in three key areas.

1. Interior space

It’s surprising how much you can fit in a 2009 Honda Fit. You’d think, because of its compact (sub-compact, actually) exterior dimensions, that occupants would be cramped with their cargo on their laps. But at a recent introduction to the new Fit in Montreal, the vehicle lived up to its name by accommodating a small mountain of gear, with plenty of room for two front-seat occupants.

2009 Honda Fit
2009 Honda Fit
2009 Honda Fit. Click image to enlarge

The explanation is twofold. First, the rear seats fold flat and the floor is particularly low (due to the centrally mounted fuel tank and specially shaped torsion beam rear suspension), and second, the interior space is evenly distributed with lots of square angles and flat surfaces.

Use of the generous interior space is optimized by the Fit’s unique “Magic Seat” which enables owners to configure the interior in four modes, depending on their needs.

The Utility Mode folds the rear seat down to create 1,622 litres of space that can hold a bicycle (with its front wheel removed) or other large, bulky items.

The Tall Mode sees the rear seat cushions folded up so you can place objects (plants, for instance?) directly on the floor of the car, taking advantage of the Fit’s 1,290 millimetre cabin height.

The Long Mode permits you to fold the front passenger seat back flush with the cushion. In conjunction with the folding rear seats, this extends cargo length to 2,362 mm (nearly eight feet).

Finally, the People Mode configures the seats in an upright position, accommodating up to five people.

2009 Honda Fit
2009 Honda Fit. Click image to enlarge

2. Economy

Although not the least expensive vehicle on the market, the Fit can be purchased in well-equipped DX-A form for $16,280. This includes the all-important air conditioning, along with power door locks and keyless entry (power windows and CD-audio with auxiliary jack are standard). There is, of course, a freight charge and taxes to pay ($1,310 and $2,286.70 respectively), but the total price of a well equipped Fit “on the road” is still under $20,000.

And although the Fit’s four-cylinder, 1.5-litre engine makes a 117 horsepower (more than a much heavier Volkswagen City Golf), it uses only 7.2/5.7 L/100 km of regular grade fuel, city/highway, when fitted to the manual transmission. Perhaps unexpectedly, the automatic transmission model uses less fuel (7.1/5.5 L/100km, city/highway) than the manual.

3. Safety

2009 Honda Fit
2009 Honda Fit
2009 Honda Fit. Click image to enlarge

Consumers should be aware that occupants of small cars are typically more vulnerable in an accident than occupants of larger vehicles. It’s one thing to be hit by another small car, and quite another to be hit by a large SUV (of which there are many on the road).

Starting with the 2009 model, the Honda Fit now uses the company’s ACE body structure (Advanced Compatibility Engineering), as found in its larger vehicles. This structure is designed to absorb and redirect the energy of a head-on or offset frontal collision with a larger or smaller vehicle. It distributes forces across a “relatively large” area in front of the vehicle and along door frame rails and side sills and routes them “around and away from” the passenger compartment.

The Fit is also designed to absorb energy in the event of a collision with a pedestrian, reducing the level of pedestrian injury.

In addition to the ACE body structure, Honda Fit is equipped with front side and side-curtain airbags, driver and passenger active head restraints and anti-lock brakes with electronic brake distribution (EBD).

These features maximize safety for occupants of the Fit in the event of an accident. The only thing missing is vehicle stability control, which is a technology recommended by Autos.

Will the Fit replace an SUV? No, but it’s nimble, practical, and both cheap to buy and operate. It makes virtually no emissions (Tier 2 Bin-5 emissions rating) and is styled appealingly. Personally, I’d love a sixth gear in the manual transmission models, which would create a more relaxed highway drive at speeds over 100 km/h.

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