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New Honda Fit: Cute... with a big heart

Honda Fit to reach the American market in spring 2006.

Honda Fit Sport: reaching the US in spring.

APN,
9th January 2006.

Could Honda afford to leave the American subcompact market open for new fresh adventurers such as Toyota's Scion brand, or its new Yaris (replacing the Echo from this spring),  or Nissan's Versa, or even Hyundai's new generation Accent... while it has one of the most successful small car models in Japan (Fit) as well as in Europe (known there as the Jazz)?

Certainly not. That's why the all-new 5-door subcompact Honda Fit is set to go on sale in the U.S. in April, after its American debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit (public days from 14 to 22 January).

While the 2007 Fit  official pricing for has not yet been determined, Honda is projecting sales of approximately 33,000 units this year (US market), then 50,000 on an annual basis, with an expected base price to start between 13 and 14 thousand dollars.

Honda Fit - back side view

Honda Fit Sport, urban and sports-minded.

In the US, the 2007 Fit will feature a 109 horsepower 1.5-liter 4-cylinder VTEC engine, a 5-speed manual transmission or an optional 5-speed automatic transmission, with over 90 cubic feet of passenger volume (2.54 cubic metre) with multiple seating and cargo configurations.

For "tonic" characters, the Fit Sport model offers wheel-mounted paddle shifters (with automatic transmission) and a 160-watt, six-speaker audio system.

Honda Fit (left) and Fit Sport (right).

Honda Fit (left) and Fit Sport (right).

Being a natural choice for young and trendy oriented tastes, Honda's new entry model will propose well targeted options such as the Honda Apple® iPod Music Link.

Cargo Flexibility - Compared to its compact body, the interior provides a rather large passenger and cargo space for comfort and utility, with a 60/40 split rear seat that allows the seatbacks to fold down or the seat bottoms to flip up, providing four distinct seating and cargo carrying configurations (refresh mode, tall object mode, long object mode and utility mode) in addition to the standard five passenger mode.

Honda Fit Sport - front seats, side view.

Honda Fit - front seats, side view.

Honda Fit Sport (top) and Fit (bottom).

With all seats in the upright position, passenger volume measures 90.1 cubic feet (2.55 cubic metres, slightly less than an Accord’s passenger volume) with 21.3 cubic feet (603 litres, or 0.6 metre3) of cargo capacity behind the second row (slightly less than an Element’s cargo volume behind the second row).

To maximize interior space, the fuel tank is in a central location towards the middle of the vehicle. This allows the cargo floor in the rear to be relatively low, thus increasing the interior volume.

Engine - The 1.5-liter, SOHC, 16-valve, 4-cylinder VTEC engine generates 109 horsepower @ 5800 rpm and 105 foot-pounds (142.3 Newton-metre) of torque @ 4800 rpm. With Honda’s Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control (VTEC™), the VTEC system provides efficient operation at low engine speeds with extended performance at high engine speeds.

Honda Fit Sport - dashboard.

Honda Fit - dashboard.

Honda Fit Sport (top) and Fit (bottom).

The electronic throttle control (drive-by-wire) provides quick throttle response, smooth automatic transmission shifts (on automatic transmission models) and precise fuel delivery to the engine.

Suspension - The suspension set up is a combination of a front MacPherson strut/ rear torsion beam with trailing arm, both preferred to allow for a large passenger cabin with a low floor to maximize the cargo carrying capacity.

Fit's electric power steering (EPS) system also contributes to better fuel economy since engine power is not needed to operate a hydraulic power assistance system.

Wheel size is 14-inches with P175/65R14 tires (Fit), or 15-inch alloys with P195 / 55 R15 tires in the Fit Sport, or 16-inch wheels with P205/45R16 as a dealer-installed option.

Honda Fit Sport - details (dials)

Honda Fit Sport - details (console)

Honda Fit Sport - details (iPod in glove box).

Honda Fit Sport - details (60/40 split back seats).

Neat and practical, with many available accessories, including iPod link.

Honda estimates city/highway fuel economy ratings of 33/38 miles per (US) gallon (7.13 / 6.19 litres per 100 km). Emissions levels are rated as Low Emissions Vehicle 2 (LEV-2) by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and Tier 2 / Bin 5 by the Federal government.

Safety - The Fit comes with standard dual-stage front airbags, dual front side airbags and side-curtain airbags on all models. All seating positions have three-point seat belts, while front occupants are further protected by pre-tensioning seat belts, with a knee bolster for additional protection.

Standard active safety equipment includes anti-lock braking system (ABS) with ventilated discs in the front (drums in the back), and electronic brake-force distribution (EBD).

Other standard amenities include air conditioning, an AM/FM/CD audio system with four speakers, power windows, power mirrors, power door locks, and a two-tone interior.

Options - The Fit Sport model offers steering wheel-mounted paddle shifter controls (with automatic transmission). The Sport package includes underbody kit, rear roofline spoiler, fog lights, security system with keyless remote entry, cruise control, and 15-inch aluminium-alloy wheels.

The Fit Sport also features a premium 160-watt, AM/FM/CD audio system with six speakers, MP3/WMA playback capability, a five-mode equalizer, and an auxiliary audio jack for input from a portable music player.

Accessories - With its youthful orientation, the Fit should benefit particularly from Honda's available accessories (around 30), such as the Apple® iPod® Music Link® which allows the user’s iPod (sold separately) to fully interact with the audio system. Music Link will control all the iPod’s features via the audio head unit with album/song information shown on the vehicle’s audio unit LCD display. It will also charge the iPOD’s battery.

Other interior accessories include an ambient lighting, trim panel accents (silver, red and blue), steering wheel covers and shift knobs.

Outside, the Fit can be customized with Honda Factory Performance equipment including 16-inch alloy wheels, Sport package underbody kit, sport exhaust, chrome exhaust tip finisher, rear bumper accents and a sport mesh grille.

A preview Web site for the Fit is available at fit.honda.com.

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