REVIEW | Why the Honda Fit Hybrid might be the ultimate urban hatch

20 February 2024 - 12:59
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The Honda Fit gains a facelift for 2024 and retains all the hallmarks that make it a great buy.
The Honda Fit gains a facelift for 2024 and retains all the hallmarks that make it a great buy.

The Honda Fit is an oddball with a big secret. Owners know there are plenty hatchbacks that are more flamboyantly styled but they also know it’s unbeatable when it comes to practicality.

You can fold its Magic Seat system in all manner of ways to fit bulky or even tall cargo, a feat that none of the mainstream rivals can match.

We last tested the artisanal design Honda Fit in 2021. It’s back in range-topping e:HEV spec and promising exceptional fuel savings thanks to a hybrid drivetrain, but more on that later. For now, let’s get into the physical changes.

A 4,089mm total length means it’s longer than a Polo with a comprehensive change on its nose. The clamshell bonnet has been decreased for a shorter recess and a honeycomb plastic mesh now appears in the front bumper. The headlights too receive more black eyeliner for a more doe-eyed look.

Inside the airy cabin the Fit’s other trump card is the build quality. It looks and feels solidly put together, and the touch points have tactility, whether adjusting the climate control knobs or using the turn signal. New features include wireless charging for mobile phones and there’s enough USB ports and connection to Android Auto and Apple CarPlay alongside regulars such as climate control, electric windows and mirrors.

There are plenty drink holders too and storage nooks, and the digital and touch-operated main display screen stays off until you prod it back to life, an added efficiency trick. Oddities include the thick A-pillars that block off a chunk of your three-quarter view at intersections, and a keyless entry system that unlocks the front doors only. Add manually adjusted seats, though they are covered in high quality hides.

Underneath is a 1.5l four cylinder petrol engine linked to an electric motor and a six-step continuous variable transmission (CVT) driving the front wheels. Total system output is now 90kW (up from 80kW) and 253Nm. It is able to drive at up to 40km/h on electric power alone when conditions allow. These can be at driveway speeds or in heavy traffic.

The spacious and practical interior is solidly built.
The spacious and practical interior is solidly built.

It changes the power source between the engine, the electric motor, or both, and is not what you would call a furious performance. It’s rated with a leisurely 9.4 secs from 0-100km/h but it gathers high speeds sufficiently and doesn’t struggle to reach or maintain its 175km/h top speed.

The Honda Fit e:HEV also lends itself well to long cross-border journeys. Left to its own devices, which include a brake energy recuperation system, the Honda Fit can throttle, brake and keep itself inside lanes while promising more than 1,000km on a single 40l tank. Fuel consumption is said at 3.4l/100km. Hard as I tried, this figure just couldn’t be matched, but I’m happy to live with the 4.6l/100km it actually returned — which makes it one of the most fuel efficient cars in South Africa. It covered 600km without needing a top-up, with plenty of fuel left in its tank to last a few more days of urban driving.

But the hybrid Fit isn’t the most refined on the move. There’s a bit too much noise coming from the engine as the CVT rubber bands its way into higher gears. The droning effect is more pronounced with the cruise control activated as it constantly hunts for optimal gear ratios, but it settles down in the top gear and becomes a civilised cruiser, with wind and road noise subdued. The active headlights also work brilliantly at night. 

The ride is smooth on freeways and on imperfect back roads, and because its maker manufactures what is considered the best handling front wheel drive car in the Honda Civic Type R, there’s plenty body control and grip that allow this little hatch to boss its way through sharp curves.

Unsurprisingly, all who asked were visibly shaken by its R544,900 asking price, but I’m not. Inflationary pressures aside, it’s one of the most technologically advanced hatchbacks in the niche, with tangible positives that include very low fuel consumption and fantastic build quality. If you don’t want the hybrid, the entry level models are also available at lower prices, and they also come with the useful Magic Seat system and other Honda Fit charms.

The facelift brightens up an appealing package.
The facelift brightens up an appealing package.



Type: Four-cylinder petrol engine, electric motor

Capacity: 1.5l

Power: 90kW

Torque: 253Nm


Type: Continuously variable transmission (CVT)


Type: Front-wheel drive


Top speed: 175km/h

0-100km/h: 9.4 secs

Fuel Consumption: 3.4l/100km (said), 4.6l (as tested)

Emissions: 88g/km


Bluetooth, auto on/off and adaptive headlamps, cruise control, HD instrument display, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless smartphone charging, keyless entry, rear park distance control, USB ports, fast charger, multifunction steering wheel controls, leather upholstery, ABS, six airbags     


Warranty: Five years/200,000km

Maintenance plan: Four years/60,000km

Price: R544,900

Lease*: R12,147 per month

* at 11.75% interest over 60 months, no deposit

Honda Fit 1.5 e:HEV


Space, features, fuel consumption


Droning CVT gearbox


A thinker’s urban hatch par excellence


star rating







****Value For Money



Toyota Corolla hatch 1.8 Hybrid XSR, 72kW/103Nm — R536,500

MINI Cooper Hatch 5-door, 100kW/220Nm — R542,50

Audi A1 Sportback 35TFSI Advanced,110kW/250Nm — R551, 000

Mazda3 hatch 2.0 Astina, 121kW/213Nm — R565,700

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