2009 Honda Fit: Maybe the Most Ingenious Car You Can Buy Today
- August 18, 2009
- Honda, On The Road: Driving Impressions
- Posted by Ed Kim
- Comments Off on 2009 Honda Fit: Maybe the Most Ingenious Car You Can Buy Today
When I was a kid, I loved all manner of transforming robots. Transformers, Go-bots, Voltron…if it could change shape and function, I loved it. As an adult, I’m no different. I love multi-functional furniture, living spaces, and of course, automobiles.
Apparently, so do a lot of people. Part of the reason that SUVs became so popular was because they were multi-functional. They could carry people in comfort, but they could also be reconfigured to haul cargo. Or, they could be reconfigured to carry both. SUVs gave people the flexibility to adapt the vehicle to their needs, rather than the other way around.
Of course, there’s no reason why lessons learned from the SUV can’t be applied to other kinds of vehicles, and the Honda Fit you see here is one of the best examples of multi-functionality applied to a vehicle at any price. It may be tiny on the outside, but there’s a staggering amount of out-of-the-box smart thinking on the inside that makes it more useful than many vehicles twice its size.
Let’s start with the interior’s centerpiece. It’s what Honda calls the Magic Seat. Basically, the back seats are split 60/40 and can be folded down to increase cargo space, just like any other car. That’s just the beginning, though. Honda’s engineers have moved the fuel tank from its usual location under the back seats to under the front seats. This clears up a lot of real estate, meaning that the seat cushions themselves kneel into the floor as the backrests are folded down. This results in a very low cargo floor with the backrests folded.
But that’s only half the story. The seat cushions can also be folded upwards vertically, and because there is no fuel tank under the seat, you get huge vertical storage volume from floor to ceiling. A bicycle can actually be loaded through the rear doors and stored upright as a result. There aren’t even a lot of SUVs that can manage this feat! The photo here shows both of the possible configurations of the Magic Seat.
The rest of the interior also boasts plenty of innovation too. The tall profile and high-mounted seats mean that there is ample space for four adults inside despite the exterior’s diminutive footprint. There are numerous storage areas in the dashboard, including two gloveboxes. And if you think that Fit would be sparsely equipped because it occupies the bottom rung of Honda’s lineup, you would be very wrong. Not only are the usual power accessories (windows, locks, etc.) standard, our Fit Sport also came with full iPod integration, Honda’s acclaimed voice activated navigation system, stability control, smart 16-inch alloys, and even a five-speed automatic with paddle shifters!
To my eyes, the Fit looks great too. I’m not usually a fan of Honda styling, but Fit comes across as space age and fun. The way it drives lives up to the styling’s promise too. It’s easily the most fun to drive car in its segment. It may not be fast, but the enthusiastic little 1.5L engine loves to rev all day long while the chassis encourages you constantly chuck the car into corners. The combination of the willing powertrain, accurate steering, and great sense of control from the suspension means that this is a proper driver’s car that never reminds you that it is in fact Honda’s entry level offering. See if you feel that way after driving a Toyota Yaris or Chevrolet Aveo.
I’m going to stop now because I’m starting to sound like I’m on Honda’s payroll. Any more accolades from me should warrant a paycheck and a position in Honda’s PR department. All kidding aside though, my praise for this car simply reflects the fact that this one of the most intelligently designed cars I’ve ever come across, and I struggle to find anything negative to say about it.
Fit owners apparently agree. The Fit swept AutoPacific’s suite of awards this year, winning our 2009 Vehicle Satisfaction Award (VSA), Ideal Vehicle Award (IVA), and the joint AutoPacific and Intellichoice Motorist Choice Award for its segment – not by a little, but by huge margins in all three cases. It goes to show that consumer relevant innovation really does go a long way and can result in big payoffs for automakers that think beyond the status quo.