2015 Honda Fit EX-L/NAVI Test Drive

?Honda Launches 3rd generation Fit for 2015?

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Honda just launched the third generation of their popular and versatile 5-Door subcompact hatchback. The Honda Fit was first introduced in 2006 as a 2007 model. The 2015 Honda Fit has been completely redesigned and benefits from several unique and innovative enhancements in a highly efficient package based on the mantra ?Man Maximum / Machine Minimum?

This latest iteration Honda Fit delivers class-leading fuel economy thanks to powertrain advancements along with above-class advanced technology and connectivity features. The new Honda Fit also serves up class-leading interior space and versatility, thanks to its center-mounted fuel tank and new, innovative Magic Seat? feature. Fit provides intelligent functionality and versatility combined with spacious and comfortable seating for five and room to carry voluminous cargo, including unusually long and tall items. Fit?s larger interior features a 4.9 cubic feet increase in passenger volume as well as a 4.8-inch increase in rear seat legroom, a remarkable feat considering its more compact exterior footprint, including a 1.6-inch reduction in overall length, despite its longer wheelbase.

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A new space-efficient body structure joins an all-new chassis, making up a completely new, more rigid and lighter global subcompact platform featuring several improvements to both the front and rear suspension and steering systems, improving overall driving dynamics. The new platform is lighter as well, yet more rigid and features a longer wheelbase than the previous Fit. These improvements result in a more settled and stable ride, while providing nimble and sporty handling characteristics combined with a steering linearity that gives the driver a sense of oneness with the vehicle. An added benefit of these enhancements is improved ride comfort and cabin quietness. The new Fit tips the scale at nearly 44 pounds less than its predecessor.

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The new Honda Fit derives its motive energy from a new Earth Dreams technology that provides a significant increase in horsepower, torque and throttle response. The new engine is a 1.5-liter, DOHC, 16-valve i-VTEC+VTC inline four-cylinder with Direct Fuel Injection and an ECO assist system. It makes 130 horsepower at 6,500 rpm while generating 114 pound feet of torque at 4,600 rpm. It is transversely mounted up front and propels the front wheels through either a six-speed manual gearbox or a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters and ?G-design shift? with seven preset gear ratios. LX and EX models may choose either transmission, while EX-L and EX-L with NAVI models come with only the CVT featuring paddle shifters.

Suspension componentry consists of a MacPherson strut assembly up front, with 25.4 mm stabilizer bar and a rear Torsion-Beam setup. The rubber meets the road in the form of Bridgestone Turanza 135/55 R16 88H tires mounted on alloy wheels – 5 double-bright spokes, separated by 5 Black spokes. Bringing the Honda Fit to a halt are power-assisted front wheel discs and drum rear brakes with ABS and EBD.

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The 2015 Honda Fit will be available in four levels of trim or models: the base LX; EX; EX-L; and EX-L/NAVI. It aligns with other Honda models with the same trim structure, each offering a higher content than the previous equivalent trim. New standard features for all Fit models include: auto on-off headlights, LED brake lights, Bluetooth? HandsFreeLink? and a center storage console with and armrest. Available first time Fit options include: Smart Entry Push Button Start; a one-touch operated moonroof; 7-inch touchscreen Display Audio with Honda?s next-generation HondaLink; and heated leather seats. Pricing will range from $15,525 to $20,800. Add $790 for Destination and Handling for each model.

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In terms of its exterior visual appeal, the new Honda Fit displays an athletic, planted look. Lines at the edge of the protruding lower air intake flare back, riding over the wheel-accentuating front fenders and continuing to expand in a wedge encompassing the rear wheel arch. A chiseled line emanates mid-height from the front wheel, scoring a character line through the door handles and expanding around the taillight. The commanding solid grille above the front bumper and the lower positioned headlight design creates a smooth, singular-motion surface that continues with an integrated linear flow over the hood, windshield and roof. From the lower air intake rearward, a planted bottom edge serves to securely hold the design to the road. All lines finish at the rear into a multi-horizontal form and clean rear diffuser. The rear styling?s strength is accentuated by the roofline spoiler and the rear window?s forward slant. Combination taillights expand into an angular form with reflectors that rise to the roof. The lights are balanced below by the rear bumper edge flares with an inverted but similar shape. The solid bar garnish between the rear window solid hatch echoes the front grille design and on EX and EX-L models the garnish is rich chrome.

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Moving to the inside, primary changes, upgrades and new features include a significantly enlarged cabin, a new center console with armrest and tablet connectivity, an available leather trim package, and available premium features such as Smart Entry with Push Button Start and the 7-inch touchscreen Display Audio. Other key new interior features include: an additional 4.9 cubic feet of passenger volume; an additional 4.8 inches of rear seat legroom; steering wheel-mounted audio controls; and a 7-inch touchscreen Display Audio for EX, EX-L models.

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Key New Safety and Driver-Assistive Features for the new Fit include: Driver and Front Passenger SmartVent? Side Airbags; Side Curtain Airbags with Rollover Sensor; Motion-Adaptive Electric Power Steering (EPS) ? a feature of Vehicle Stability Assist with Traction Control; Hill Start Assist; Expanded View Driver?s Mirror; Honda LaneWatch?; and Multi-Angle Rearview Camera with Guidelines.

I was able to test drive two versions of the new 2015 Honda Fit: first up was a Fit in EX-L trim with NAVI finished outside in Mystic Yellow Pearl and inside in Black. Its base price was set at $20,800. With the final sticker totaling $21,590. Next, I was able to drive an LX trim model with the 6-speed manual gearbox base priced at $15,525 with the final count and amount coming to $16,315. It sported an Aegean Blue metallic exterior and a Black interior.

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SUMMARY: The 2015 Honda Fit has a lot going for it ? it is a really good-looking 5-door hatchback ? essentially a mini wagon. It is reasonably priced, especially when considering the feature content, and it performs up to expectations. Well, almost. The 1.5-liter, DOHC, 16-valve i-VTEC+VTC inline four-cylinder engine with Direct Fuel Injection and ECO assist system is very fuel efficient with either transmission, but both the horsepower and torque could use a boost – as in turbo boost. Yes, the fuel economy would be somewhat depleted, but the engine wouldn?t have to work as hard, which would render it quieter when pushed to the limit. Let?s face it, 130 horses and 114 pound feet of torque are nothing to shout about. To be fair, it?s quite adequate, albeit a tad on the ?buzzy? side, unless you need to pass with limited space on an incline, then more would certainly be better.

The ride quality delivered is smooth and compliant, and the handling characteristics lean to the sporty side of the equation, with a positive steering feel. As far as the transmissions are concerned, while I normally prefer a manual gearbox, in the case of the new Honda Fit, I actually preferred the CVT with the steering wheel mounted paddle shifters and ?G-design shift? with its seven preset gear ratios. It was actually more enjoyable to drive and seemed to perform more precisely, without the possible element of driver error, such a missed shift. The CVT is also more fuel efficient.

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The 2015 Fit is loaded with features and delivers a heightened level of versatility and functionality over a good many of its competitors.

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Bottom line, the 2015 Honda Fit is a highly desirable and affordable subcompact 5-door hatch. Again, it would be even better with turbocharging for added performance and driving enjoyment.

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?[wptabtitle] SPECIFICATIONS: 2015 Honda Fit EX-L/NAVI – 5-Door Hatchback [/wptabtitle]
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Base Price: $20,800.
Price as Tested: $21,590.
Engine Type and Size: 1.5-liter, DOHC, 16-valve i-VTEC+VTC inline four-cylinder with Direct Fuel Injection and ECO assist system.
Horsepower (bhp): 130 @ 6,500 rpm
Torque (ft./ lbs.): 114 @ 4,600 rpm
Transmission: CVT with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters and G-design shift? with seven preset gear ratios.
Drive Train: Transversely mounted front engine / Front-Wheel Drive.
Suspension: Front – MacPherson strut with 25.4 mm stabilizer bar.
Rear H-Type Torsion-Beam.

Brakes: Power-assisted front wheel discs drum rear with ABS and EBD.
Tires: Bridgestone Turanza 135/55 R16 88H mounted on 5-double- bright spoke with 5 separating Black spokes.
Wheelbase: 99.6 inches
Length Overall: 160.0 inches
Width: 67.0 inches
Height: 60.0 inches
Curb Weight: 2,642 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 10.6 gallons
EPA Mileage Estimates: 33 mpg city / 41 mpg highway (LX CVT)/ 29 mpg city / 37 mpg hwy M/T
Drag Coefficient: Not officially listed.
0 – 60 mph: Not tested.

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Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles as well.