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New Honda Fit: The sleek city slicker

Andrew Muzamhindo
THE level of interior refinement, spaciousness, and the absolute comfort and practicality makes the Honda Fit most attractive in its category.

While most families opt for SUVs these days, the functional MPV is often overlooked, and nobody does an MPV better than Honda. The sophisticated all new Honda Fit is sure to attract a whole new stylish crowd.

It is an adorable sleek-looking city-slicker with a variety of talents. The jury is out on whether it will be able to replace the 2004 model that I feel is the best out of all Honda Fits ever made.

I drove the 1.5-litre 2021 Honda Fit in executive trim in South Africa sometime last year. It was formerly called Honda Jazz in South Africa. Some managed to get into Zimbabwe but we have always had Fits as grey imports.

It looks futuristic with aggressive lines from the last generation of Fit models. It has a blunt nose and amiable “eyes” – both the front and rear lamps feature a striking half-moon LED light signature.

The new design actually borrows from the 2004 model that we imported into Zimbabwe in droves. There is something about it that reminds me of the BMW i3 as well.

Design
Honda has a design philosophy called ‘Yoo-no-bi’, which “recognises beauty in everyday items which have been perfected over time to make them even more appealing and ergonomically satisfying for their specific purpose.”

When you take a look from the side you notice it has aerodynamic presence. This helps the Fit cut through the air more effectively, and sexy, turbine-design alloys. Less resistance means less fuel consumed as well.

Interior and tech
Honda has kept attention to detail with its design.  The interior is minimalist without being boring, thanks to the shape of the dashboard, interesting placement of cup holders, and white glossy detailing. It all adds to the space-age feel but the cabin still manages to feel cosy and inviting.

The Fit is built for Japan, in Japan. The Jazz was built in Thailand for the world. The Japanese are serious about quality, and it is evident when you run your fingers across the surfaces and dials. Dual cubby holes also add to the practicality of the Fit.

Who needs a speedometer and rev counter any more these days? This is what you will see behind the steering wheel, depending on your choice of view.

Tech-oriented buyers will be delighted by the digital TFT instrument cluster and slick a 9-inch HMI central touchscreen with wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, as well as two USB ports up front and two in the rear for the second-row occupants.

In order to prevent spending precious time pouring over on-screen menus, Honda brought back buttons for instant access to key functions, and you can also customize the display to suit your preferences. It works much like a smartphone where you swipe and scroll to find what you need.

Space and comfort
The grey cloth seats with leather edges are supportive and cossetting, and fitting a child seat is a piece of cake thanks to the exposed ISOFIX hooks and rear doors that open widely. The front seats in this model are heated if you need to warm an icy bottom in winter. A decently-sized central armrest cubby in front has space for smaller items.

Thanks to the Fit’s torsion beam suspension, space on the rear seat is truly cavernous, offering taller adults the kind of legroom they are probably not used to in the segment.

As always, Honda’s clever trick is the Magic Seat system which allows you to flip up the seats or tumble them forward until they are almost completely level. Flipping up the rear seats allowed me to transport my son’s bicycle upright, with zero hassle.

The boot has no loading lip so lifting heavy items into the cargo area is quick and easy, making it the perfect fit for families who bike, dive, play oddly-shaped instruments, or have a heavy pram that accompanies them everywhere.

Yes, flip up the seats and you will have space for whatever you were imagining (within limits).

It goes without saying that the two rear USB ports and wireless Apple CarPlay are a joy for teenagers the most.  It offers you a massive 309 litres of boot space.

Performance
The Fit’s design has been optimised for excellent visibility from wherever you’re sitting. The A-pillars have slimmed down significantly and even the wipers have been hidden for an unobstructed, almost panoramic view for the driver and front passenger.

It is light and airy inside the cabin and the feeling of openness makes you feel more involved with the process of driving and more aware of the traffic around you.

The Fit’s construction boasts 80% more high-tensile steel than its predecessor and makes use of a new rear-damper mount structure as well as new spring materials. The ride is pliant, but never wallows, and feels comfortable on smooth tar as well as rough gravel.

Steering is light but direct – it is not at all meant to be sporty but there’s enough power when you put your foot down. The CVT gearbox is not quite as noisy as its forefathers and overall, certainly much quieter than my green Jazz Hybrid from 2011, due in part to plenty of sound-absorbing materials and thicker glass.

The Fit’s streamlined shape also assists in minimising airflow noise while also keeping drag to a minimum, which also assists fuel economy.

We managed an average of around 6.6 litres per 100 km from its naturally aspirated 1.5-litre engine with 89 kW and 145 Nm. A ride in Johannesburg and the outskirts illustrated the Fit’s versatility and willingness to adapt to any road situation. It does not mind the odd pothole too much, either.

Safety
All five seats have three-point safety belts and seat belt reminders. Other safety features include ABS, EBD, an electromechanical parking brake, stability/traction control, 6 x airbags, hill-start assist, cruise control, LED fog lamps, park distance control (front and rear) and a crystal-clear display for the rear-view camera.

(The hybrid model has the full suite of Honda Sensing safety technology which includes semi-autonomous driving assistants.) As in all Hondas, the ACE body structure allows for excellent passive safety and crash protection.

It is one of those brands you wish had proper representation in Zimbabwe. The Honda Fit is a fantastic little car that is right up there with premium brands. You’d be hard-pressed to find something else that has top-class build quality and the best in tech, as well as space and ingenuity.

  • andrew@muzamhindo.com.

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