Review and photos by Michael Bettencourt
Cars are usually just about as good looking as they’re going to get right when they’re introduced. As it is with many people entering adulthood, cars typically start life at the peak of their physical appeal and prowess, with lots of energy and enthusiasm. But after a certain age, things trend gradually downhill in the looks and competency departments – some on a steeper curve than others.
But the Honda Fit has somehow managed to buck that trend, at least in the looks department. Sure, there are some engineering grey hairs appearing that suggest it’s not the clear class leader it was earlier in its life. But even after six years on the market, the equivalent of geriatric time in the rapidly shifting world of subcompact runabouts, the Fit hatchback retains an eager enthusiasm that still projects a youthful driving appeal, as well as some serious practicality advantages.
2013 Honda Fit Sport. Click image to enlarge
So first, the looks. The Fit manages to be taller than most rivals – with resultant advantages in headroom, cargo space, and overall flexibility – without taking on any faux crossover look. In a recent Autos.ca Subcompact comparison with five hatchback competitors, which pitted the Honda against the Kia Rio5, Hyundai Accent, Mazda2, Chevrolet Sonic, and Toyota Yaris, this Fit scored easily as one of the best looking of that six-car bunch.
That said, the Fit Sport tested there and here looks much better than the homely but less pricy Fit base models, with lower body cladding, larger wheels and tires, plus a rear spoiler that all help hunker the tall-ish Fit’s body to the ground. Granted, the Ford Fiesta wasn’t in that group, which to these eyes takes the current design prize in this class, though the upcoming 2014 Nissan Versa Note hatchback’s mini-Leaf lines will also challenge for that title when it arrives in late spring.
But one of the biggest issues with the Fit is its price. When the Japanese-built hatchback first arrived in 2007, it came in just under 15 large, and $2,200 less than a compact Civic. And while the Fit’s starting MSRP hasn’t budged, a recently redesigned Civic now starts at an MSRP of $15,440 – and that’s before any incentives are rolled in, an area where the Civic has competed strongly over the past couple of years.
In that recent six-car comparo, our top-line Fit Sport was the second-most expensive hatchback there, at an as-tested price of $21,595 after freight but before taxes, even though it was also one of the oldest in pure engineering terms. Remember, even when the Fit arrived in North America for the 2007 model year, it had already been on sale as the Jazz in Europe and Asia. On the other hand, if you fully load up some of its subcompact rivals, you can easily surpass the $22K mark before taxes, even with a manual transmission.
Now that a new generation 2014 Fit is just around the corner, with plans to build it in Mexico along with a small crossover and sedan version, there could be some more bargaining room at your local dealer than there has been in the past. Still, using Honda Canada’s online configurator, a larger and more recently redesigned Civic LX – with better fuel economy and heated seats that the Fit does not offer – rings in at an MSRP about $700 less than a ’13 Fit Sport with no further options.