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PERFORMANCE | 8 out of 10
More fun to drive than a team of coked-up sled dogs
Car and Driver
Manual transmission has smooth, light shift action and clutch
Goes down the road and through the turns very well, almost eagerly
The last generation of Honda Fit wins abundant praise from reviewers for its surprising performance and high fun-to-drive factor. Despite having a more powerful engine for 2009, the second-generation Honda Fit doesn't quite match its predecessor in the performance department.
All models in the 2009 Honda Fit lineup are powered by 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that Car and Driver says gets a "modest power bump to 117 horsepower and 106 pound-feet of torque," compared to the 2008 Honda Fit's 109 horsepower and 105 pound-feet of torque. Honda's little four-cylinder is capable, but it has to move a bit more Honda Fit than before, and reviews read by TheCarConnection.com show that it doesn't offer quite as exciting a driving experience. ConsumerGuide notes the Honda Fit is "adequate around town," but "highway passing takes patience." Jalopnik reviewers feel that the "adequetastic 1.5 liter" is "sufficient for its class." Motor Trend observes that the new engine offers "higher peak power and a much flatter torque curve," but Cars.com still findsit offers just "modest acceleration."
The 2009 Honda Fit comes standard with a five-speed manual transmission but, notes Edmunds, "a five-speed automatic is optional." Edmunds adds that "on Fit Sports the automatic comes with manual shift control via steering-wheel-mounted paddles." Reviewers find little to fault with the manual and paddle-shift automatic, but most indicate that the standard automatic is unremarkable. Cars.com notes that the standard automatic "isn't apt to kick down unless you give the pedal a good jab—even when in Sport mode," which leads Jalopnik to deem the transmission "merely decent." The manual gets much more love, however, as ConsumerGuide claims the "Fit feels livelier with the manual," and Cars.com adds it "is well-matched to the new engine's power band." The paddle-shifting automatic is the real standout, though, and ConsumerGuide says it "keeps the transmission in a lower gear than in normal mode for faster throttle response."
The small 2008 Honda Fit, with its low-displacement engine, offers impressive around-town fuel economy, but experts at TheCarConnection.com expect better performance on the highway. The EPA estimates that manual-transmission Honda Fits and Honda Fit Sports with the automatic will get 27 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway. The base Honda Fit with the five-speed automatic fares slightly better, with EPA estimates of 28 mpg city and 35 mpg on the highway.
Reviewers are still impressed with the way the 2009 Honda Fit handles, though some feel that it has lost a step. Edmunds calls the Honda Fit "highly maneuverable and a great urban runabout," but one Car and Driver reviewer "[notices himself] struggling to find that special something [he] used to love in flooring it, steering it, and halting it." On the positive side, Car and Driver does praise the brakes, which "have lots of feel and never seem overwhelmed," and Cars.com mentions that "the electric power steering has decent feel."
The 2009 Honda Fit still offers a comfortable ride and can be fun with the five-speed manual transmission.