NEW FOR 2008:

– Exterior colours: Taffeta White, Blackberry Pearl and Storm Silver added; Alabaster Silver deleted

Now in its second year in North America, the Honda Fit enters 2008 with only colour changes. Although it’s been available in Japan since 2001, and currently sold in over 100 countries, some of which know it as the Jazz, it only made its way to our shores for 2007.

Available only as a four-door hatchback, the Fit uses a 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine, mated to a five-speed manual transmission. An optional five-speed automatic transmission also includes a manual sport shift mode and wheel-mounted paddles when ordered on the Sport trim line.

The trim lines are the entry-level DX, unique to the Canadian market, along with LX and Sport.

The Fit’s unique configuration on all trim lines is its "Magic Seat", a 60/40 folding rear seat combined with a lowered floor, made possible by relocating the fuel tank to the midsection of the chassis. The seat can be folded flat into "utility" mode; into "long" mode with the rear seat and front passenger seat folded to form a cabin-length flat cargo space; "refresh" mode, with the front seats reclined to form leg rests for rear-seat passengers when the car is parked; and "tall" mode, with the rear seat flipped up, creating a storage area on the floor up to 126 cm tall.

Features on the DX include 14-inch steel wheels, rear wiper, power windows, tilt wheel, two-speed intermittent wipers, cargo area storage bins and light, and CD stereo with auxiliary jack and two speakers.

The LX adds air conditioning, power mirrors, power locks, cruise control, and four speakers.

The Sport adds 15-inch alloy wheels, security system, roofline spoiler, body kit, fog lamps, keyless entry, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and CD/MP3 stereo with equalizers and auxiliary input jack.

The Fit offers numerous safety features for its price, including anti-lock brakes and six airbags in all trim levels, and very sharp handling that’s better than would be expected for the price. Its throttle response has been tuned to North American preferences and feels peppy off the line; its small engine strains a little when passing at highway speeds, but overall, it’s a good match to this half-pint hatchback.

The automatic transmission on the Sport can be kept in sequential manual mode, requiring that you shift it (at least to the end of its rev threshold), but when it’s in fully automatic mode, it can be temporarily downshifted using the wheel-mounted paddles. It will return to the appropriate gear automatically after a few seconds, allowing for a quick burst of power without the need to continue shifting it.

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