The Fit is offered in a single 5-door hatchback body style, but in two different models: Fit and Fit Sport. While both of these models offer the same powertrains and seating configuration, the Sport model gets a few more standard features, plus a number of additional features that may improve handling slightly and enhance appearance.
All 2013 gasoline-powered Fit models are powered by a 117-horsepower, 1.5L 4-cylinder engine. With i-VTEC variable valve timing, it helps optimize power and fuel-efficiency and can be paired with either a 5-speed manual gearbox or 5-speed automatic transmission. Overall, the Fit is tuned for a responsive, spirited feel. Fit Sport models get steering-wheel-mounted paddle-shifters that allow manual gear selection.
An electric powertrain is also offered for 2013. It's availability in select areas and only by lease. The Fit EV is powered by a lithium-ion battery pack and a 123-horsepower electric motor. Besides the floor-mounted battery pack, the Fit EV appears much the same as its gasoline-fed counterpart.
Regardless of the power source, the light, nimble and responsive driving feel of the Fit belies its practical and efficient underpinnings. Thanks to a well-tuned MacPherson strut front suspension with H-shaped torsion-beam rear setup--as well as a rather quick-ratio rack-and-pinion steering system, the Fit has a very responsive, maneuverable feel at low speed combined with the high-speed stability to keep highway driving relaxed. The Fit's turning diameter is just 34.4 feet curb-to-curb, and at just 161.6 inches long, it's very easy to parallel park. Braking is provided by ventilated discs in front, with drums in back, with standard anti-lock and electronic brake distribution.
It's the Fit's interior layout that really shines compared to other subcompacts. There's seating for up to five, with a nice, upright driving position and backseat space that's adequate for adults--but the trump card is its trick Magic Seat layout, which is split 60/40 and allows the back seat to be folded flat into the floor, lower than the back seats in other comparable hatchbacks. With the rear seat folded, the cargo floor is extremely flat and low, allowing taller objects, like small pieces of furniture, to fit behind the front seats.
At the base level, the 2013 Honda Fit includes air conditioning, keyless entry, cruise control, power windows, locks, and mirrors and a 160-watt sound system with a USB port and auxiliary input. Fit Sport models add fog lamps, special machined-surface 16-inch alloy wheels, a chromed exhaust tip, and a body-color underbody kit with rear roof spoiler, plus a rear stabilizer bar for somewhat improved handling. Inside, the Sport gets upgrades to upholstery and dash trims, plus chrome accents, ambient lighting and a 160-watt sound system with six-speakers and illuminated steering-wheel controls.
Available only as an option package on the Fit Sport is a voice-recognition navigation system that includes a 6.5-inch screen, 16GB of flash memory, and more than seven million points of interest. This system also includes Bluetooth hands-free calling connectivity and Bluetooth audio streaming.
While out testing the 2013 Honda Fit EV, I wanted to run its range down from a full charge to under 10 miles. My problem: the trip computer showed 14 miles left and I was in the middle of San Francisco. It might take me half an hour to get to the CNET garage, but I would only cover about 3 miles getting there. That's city driving for you.
So I cheated by hitting the Sport button, which not only brought up red accent lighting on the instrument panel but also recalculated the remaining range, bringing it down to 9 miles.
As with most electric cars currently on the market, the Fit EV gets less than 100 miles range on a full charge, 82 miles as estimated by the EPA. In my experience, the car's trip computer showed anywhere from 90 to 100 miles' range on a full charge and in Eco mode.
The Good With an electric drivetrain, the 2013 Honda Fit EV gets an mpg equivalent rating of 118. Its Eco mode maximizes range while Sport moves it with alacrity. A reengineered chassis on this retrofit keeps the battery weight low.
The Bad Steering is vague in any of its drive modes, and the ride feels heavy. The cabin electronics look dated, not what you would expect in a cutting-edge car.
The Bottom Line The Honda Fit EV shows range similar to that of other compact electric cars on the market and drives well enough, but ultimately feels like a retrofit project car rather than a fully realized futuristic production vehicle.
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