REVIEW | 2022 Honda Fit 1.5 Elegance is smart and spacious
Honda made a splash in the B-segment when it launched the original Jazz nearly two decades ago. The concept of a hatchback with a sprinkling of multi-purpose vehicle versatility instantly took off.
Its tallish roof and practical interior dimensions made for a companion that suited all manner of lifestyles, enhanced by features such as rear seats that could be configured in seemingly endless ways.
The latest generation Jazz is here, boasting all the virtues you knew and loved from predecessors, having evolved not only from an aesthetic viewpoint, but in terms of plushness too. Before we forget, it also has a new name: the curtains closed on the Jazz moniker in favour of the Fit title.
This is a nameplate new to SA but established in markets elsewhere. In fact, you might have seen grey import specimens wearing the Fit badge visiting from neighbouring countries.
First thing to notice about the latest model is its refreshed exterior, which is entirely new, from its larger headlights to its cleaner side profile, which incorporates sizable A-pillar windows. Could it be described as sleeker than before? Sort of.
The Fit is 13mm shorter than the outgoing Jazz, with a tailgate that is somewhat forward-leaning rather than directly upright, giving it a (slightly) more athletic impression. The blue-grey hue of our tester was a sight to behold in direct sunlight. Overall, the Fit is rather endearing from a visual perspective.
If you remember the previous Jazz, you might have some less-than favourable memories about interior quality. It seemed to take a step down from the standard achieved by the second generation model. Luckily, the model has returned to form in this regard, with an interior that is near-premium in execution.
A flat dashboard top and a nine-inch touchscreen taking centre stage, making for an uncluttered appearance. That A-pillar window ensures an airy feel. Materials are of delightful texture, including the tweed-type fabric of the seat upholstery. That nine-inch interface is better than any featured in a Honda before, with impressive clarity and a layout that looks up-to-date. Android Auto and Apple Car Play connectivity is included. The steering wheel, with two spokes attached to the centre, has a retro feel and is clad in soft leather. Automatic climate control, a reverse camera and keyless-start are standard, as are automatic headlights with daytime-running lights.
Safety is taken care of with dual front, side and curtain airbags, electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes and electronic brake-force distribution. Our test vehicle was the 1.5 Elegance, which is the middle range model, costing R370,700. My first outing with the Fit was to the grocery store for the monthly shopping foray. Its low sill at the rear made loading bags a cinch, while the 309l capacity was ample for my requirements. That number goes all the way to 1,210l with the rear seats folded flat. And yes, the configurable Magic Seats are still part of the deal.
Comfort and gentle progress is what the Fit is all about. Think of it like a comfortable pair of slippers, those ones with the woolen lining that you slip into to amble around. The convenience of two pedals, coupled with the compact dimensions of the Honda and the excellent visibility through its window-intensive cabin, made town driving a breeze. It rides pleasantly on its 185/55/16 wheels. The only mishap we encountered was an unavoidable pothole that necessitated use of the space-saver “biscuit” spare wheel.
What is likely to frustrate some — especially those with a right foot made of lead — is the performance when a more urgent pace is required. The 1.5-litre, normally-aspirated, four-cylinder petrol motor is good for 89kW and 145Nm. Which is by no means poor. But it can sound strained as the continuously-variable transmission ( adjusts its ratios in a bid to make the most of what is on offer. The drone is ever-present in freeway conditions, where the Fit can go from a steady hum to a more laboured din the moment an ascent starts, prompting the revs up.
Economy was a mixed bag too, with our average readout indicating a not-so-impressive 8.2l/100km after 450km of driving in mixed settings, between urban commutes and highway jaunts. Still, for the application, the 1.5-litre motor in the Elegance is fine provided you manage your expectations and keep a gentle foot.
Nice to sit in, pleasant to look at, comfortable on the road and with an encouraging sense of quality, the Fit seems the kind of vehicle you would happily buy and hang onto for the next 10 years or more.
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