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We drive top of class 2015 Fit EX-L with navigation, love it

Day 2 of the 2015 Fit dealership release found us driving a fully optioned Merano Red Fit EX-L with navigation. Torque News takes a closer look at the numbers.

Torque News 2015 Fit test drive, day 2.

Returning Friday morning to Kendall Honda of Eugene,Ore., we took a closer look at the 2015 Honda Fit. While driving the Fit EX on Thursday, we noted a few peculiarities exclusive to the car that Torque News hadn't experienced in an earlier review of the 2014 Civic. One thing that caught our collective attention while idling the Fit was an unidentified noise originating in the Fit’s engine compartment.

The service department wasn’t going to help us here. After all, the Indonesian built 1.5 liter 16 valve SOHC i-VTEC “Earth Dreams” engine was new to North America. Released earlier in Asia, Japan, Europe and Australia, the direct injected 1.5L 4 cylinder gasoline engine would be put to the test as a 50 state compliant EPA approved, super low emissions, electronically controlled mechanical wonder.

We found the engine to be visually plasticky. None-the-less, Honda,the largest engine manufacturer on the planet had taken “ Earth Dreams” technology down the road of near zero emissions and placed it under the hood of the North American Fit.

The silver EX we tested Thursday was off the lot and now sitting in a proud owners garage. As Kendall’s new car sales manager eagerly handed us the key fob for a Merano Red Fit EX-L with satellite linked navigation and lane watch, we easily slid into the leather trimmed driver’s seat, adjusted the power mirrors and sent the manually controlled seat to the far-back position.

As first discovered in the Fit EX and the 2014 Civic Si, the fully loaded Fit EX-L with sat-nav doesn't sport power seats. We’re assuming that Honda does this as a cost saving measure. We find this to be a bit redundant in a car that features heated seats a one touch power moonroof, static touchscreen high resolution dash monitor, satellite-linked stereo and navigation.

To us it’s a bit like obsessing over one’s diet while washing down a bacon cheese burger with a diet Coke; It just doesn’t make much sense.

What’s that engine noise?

We’re going to assume that with 9 miles showing on the odometer, the “ Earth Dreams” four banger requires a bit of break- in time. From a mechanic's assessment viewpoint, to us the mildly-annoying clicking noise sounded like an electronic fuel pump or cam chain tensioner.

As we put a few(hard) combination driving miles on the car, the clicking, ticking, pinging diesel-like noises originating under the little red Fit’s bonit subsided. The rev-happy 1.5 liter “ Earth Dreams” engine works very well in all rpm ranges. Finding it’s sweet spot (torque) at a very usable 4500 rpm, the Fit is a passing rocket when asked to do so. Both Fit variants that we drove featured the Honda CVT transmission. When driving the car like your 80 year old grandmother, the Fit is quiet and as smooth as silk.

While the 1.5 liter i-VTEC may produce more than adequate horsepower and torque(130/112)it’s the genius of Honda CVT that enables the Fit to spark the driver’s enthusiasm while sipping gasoline. This car is fun to drive.

Our fully optioned 2015 Fit EX-L sported paddle shifters. While the EX had demonstrated that paddle shifter were not a necessity for fun and functional driving, we found that this option comes in very handy when coming onto the freeway at speeds, passing and downshifting in an S turn.

*The base Fit LX is the only variant available with a 6 speed manual transmission. We haven't seen one(yet) in North America.

Paddle shifting is as close as one comes to manual shifting without a foot clutch and gear shift. We like it.

We love the handling and braking characteristics of the redesigned Fit. This not-so-little 5 door hatchback is a pleasure to drive.

Honda engineering has delivered a sub-compact hatchback with class-leading interior space( huge) and sport-like handling characteristics. We find the usable power-band to be exceptional when combined with a bit of back-roads- aggressive driving. With paddle shifters in hand, Torque News put the 2015 Fit EX-L through its paces and soon discovered that this Fit can brake and handle with the best in its segment.

We discovered no drive-by-wire throttle lag as earlier reported on the 2013 Civic Si. While the engine-CVT coupling lends itself to a rather rev-happy relationship, the paddle shifter puts the CVT transmission back in the hands of the driver. We found the ABS, EBI brakes to work exceptionally well with the standard 16 inch alloy wheels and all -weather rubber. little to no brake fade was noted as we pushed the car hard down the back roads of Western Oregon.

What we don’t like about the Fit.

It’s a short list… We find the 2015 Fit to be exactically what Honda promised it to be; a totally redesigned manifestation of the soon to be best selling subcompact 5 door hatchback in North America.

What we would change: The interior noise level of the Fit borders on annoying at times. Due to a relatively hard rubber compound, narrow sidewalls and aggressive all-weather tread design, the factory installed tires transfer an over-abundance of road noise to the inner confines of the Fit.

Looking to the Fit interior finish, we would like to see a thicker(insulated) carpet and stouter door panels. While we find the interior ergonomics to be exceptional, the carpet kit appears to be cheap, the door panels flexible and vinyl-cardboard like.

We find the split driver’s side mirror to be distracting. Get rid of it… While the seats work well, we find the hip-bolster to be a bit aggressive for the Fit. We would also like to see a power-seat option. In a fully loaded variant, mechanical slides seem archaic.

The car’s design is very color sensitive. While we liked the redesigned grill and lower foglamp cowling, the George Jetson-esque lower rear design leaves us scratching our heads. What is it? This car does not look good in Red...

While the rear seating provided more legroom than the 2014 Civic sedan, the split bench seat appeared to be bordering on sub-standard. We know that Honda improved the “magic seat” for 2015. We would like to see a bit more high-density foam padding back here.

Honda’s done one heck of a job in redesigning the Fit. With the demise of the Civic Hatchback in North America, Fit is positioned to fill the void with a relatively affordable subcompact hatch.

Offering the versatility of a small minivan with the handling characteristics of a compact sport sedan, the Fit is sure to be a winner in North America.

What does the 2015 Fit cost?

We've left this question for last because of the regional influences impacting the price of your new Honda. While the Fit sports a msrp of $15,525 to $20,800 U.S., plus destination, handling and applicable area sales tax, we’ve discovered that what you pay for the 2015 Fit will be between you and your favorite Honda Dealer.

Rating: We give the 2015 Honda Fit EX-L a “ Buy” rating with a “9” score for cutting edge innovation, good performance and best of class interior space.


danwat1234 (not verified)    July 20, 2014 - 4:41PM

Let's hope direct injected 'earth dreams' engines comes to the Civics and hybrids for 2015 as well. Right now the regular Civics still use the same R18A1 engine that the 2006 has!