2021 Honda FIT is like good old-fashioned jazz but with an electric touch
CAPE TOWN – THE Honda Jazz is dead, long live the Honda Fit. Well that’s more or less what happened with Honda rebranding what we’ve come to know and admire as Jazz over the years with the much improved Fit, as it’s called. in Japan and a number of other countries.
Honda’s compact sedan is a whole new car in every way and now comes straight from Japan, not India. It retains Jazz’s party trick though, magical seats that drop down to the floor, giving it the largest capacity in the segment, including impressive rear legroom.
There is now a Fit Hybrid as well, but a bit more on that later, with the Comfort, Elegance and Executive derivatives still powered by an internal combustion engine. Under the hood you’ll find a normally aspirated 1.5-liter petrol power plant, good for 89 kW and 145 Nm of torque driving the front wheels via a CVT transmission. Honda claims fuel consumption figures of 5.5L / 100km, which is also close to what we got at the launch in the Western Cape, even with spirited driving.
I say spirited driving, but CVT transmissions are not placed in cars to allow it to get up and go, but manufacturers are clamoring for more for the consumption figures, which is true to some extent, but fundamentally, they are much cheaper than the manual or automatic options.
Put the throttle on the ground and the must-have CVT drone fills the interior while gradually increasing speed, then settles down quietly as you cruise normally.
Still, given the Fit’s target market and its likely use as commuting, the CVT is, I guess, … well, fit for purpose.
The flagship e: HEV FIT Hybrid is smartly engineered with the same 1.5 liter engine essentially acting as a “generator” for the lithium-ion battery that powers two electric motors with a fixed gear transmission or what Honda calls it. electronically controlled continuously variable. Transmission (e-CVT) with a single fixed gear ratio to create a direct connection between moving components.
The system automatically selects from three driving modes when you drive it:
EV Drive: the lithium-ion battery directly powers the electric propulsion motor.
Hybrid drive: the motor supplies power to the generator’s electric motor, which in turn feeds it to the electric propulsion motor.
Motor drive: the gasoline engine is connected directly to the wheels via a lock-up clutch and the driving force is transmitted directly from the engine to the wheels.
In Hybrid Drive mode, excess engine power is diverted to recharge the battery via the generator engine. EV Drive is also activated when the car is decelerating, recovering energy through regenerative braking to recharge the battery.
As you can see, quite a complicated setup and Honda has implemented software that makes it look like there are “changes” even if there aren’t. All in all, it offers a smooth ride and it’s intriguing to see the graphics wiggle and change color as power is applied automatically through the various modes.
The exterior (and interior) has been completely redesigned. It is 133mm lower than the Jazz and even though the front end has been redesigned it still has the short nose, long roofline and front cabin style.
The A-pillar has been reduced from 116mm to 55mm, with the rear pillar providing the main structural strength while concealed wipers and a rear roof spoiler give it a sleek, understated look.
Inside there is an all new sleek dashboard in black which is a big improvement over the Jazz and combined with the rest of the interior puts it at the top of the segment. The coolest part is the steering wheel which is taken from the very cool Honda e which adds a very nice look from the steering position.
There aren’t any old fashioned dials, but rather a digital cluster which I guess goes with all the throwback to the future genre that car interiors are heading towards.
The touchscreen infotainment system is easy to use with an interface that navigates using smartphone swipe control type settings or smartphone mirroring using an Android wireless connection Auto or Apple CarPlay.
The non-hybrid Fit benefits from the usual standard safety features that Honda has become synonymous with, including a rear view camera (except in the entry-level Comfort version), while the Hybrid also has adaptive cruise control, high beam assist, lane departure warning and anti-collision braking. .
Driving the Fit doesn’t exactly set your world on fire like you might expect from a CVT (on both derivatives), but in a car like the Fit, context matters and it never was. designed to be a hot hatch. It’s a car you buy with your head and which, as the economy continues to suffer, becomes much more regular these days. It handles the mixed road surfaces we’ve been doing well, the chassis and steering response is good when pushed through the corners, and the upgraded seats are very comfortable to sit on for a few hours.
Overall, the Fit blows a bit of fresh air into the Honda team and segment, although it remains to be seen whether it will appeal to younger buyers despite the technological and infotainment upgrades. It is still unmatched when it comes to interior space, reliability and safety, which today should go a long way in helping customers’ peace of mind. The hybrid model is probably overpriced for what you get from increased government taxes on hybrid vehicles, but the rest of the lineup offers good value for a solid, no-frills vehicle.
HONDA FIT 2021 AWARD IN SOUTH AFRICA
Honda FIT 1.5 DOHC i-VTEC Comfort CVT – R319 900
Honda FIT 1.5 DOHC i-VTEC Elegance CVT – R359 900
Honda FIT 1.5 DOHC i-VTEC Executive CVT – R389 900
Honda FIT 1.5 DOHC i-MMD e-CVT Hybrid – R469 900 (available from October 2021)
All Honda FIT models are backed by a five year / 200,000 km warranty and a four year / 60,000 km service plan in South Africa. The high voltage battery pack of the Hybrid version is supported with an 8 year / 200,000 km warranty.