The new 2015 Honda Fit is a perfect expression of the idea that many small improvements can result in a substantial leap forward. And while the Fit continues to fulfill its original role as a stylish, fun, practical, ultra-efficient and affordable subcompact, its designers and engineers took a comprehensive approach to the redesign that raises the subcompact class bar for dynamic performance in ways that translate to real driving enjoyment.
The new Fit accelerates faster and more responsively across its entire speed range; several factors contribute to these developments: 1) Notably higher engine power and torque across a wide rpm range; 2) Improved throttle response; 3) More efficient manual and automatic transmissions; and 4) Reduced aerodynamic drag. The cumulative effect is a quicker Fit that’s more fun to drive in any situation.
The Fit’s new CVT makes effective use of the engine’s newfound power. A new torque converter design and infinitely variable ratio range help the Fit accelerate quicker and longer, right from a standing start. The CVT’s S mode provides seven manually-selectable ratios, allowing the driver to finely control the power delivery in spirited driving using the steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. Similarly, the new 6-speed manual transmission’s wider gear range and closer ratios make better use of the engine power characteristics. Both transmission choices benefit from the engine’s improved throttle response.
The numerous changes to the new Fit’s powertrain also bring refinement to the driving experience; it’s easier to control acceleration because the engine and transmission respond more eagerly and precisely to the will of the driver.
Ride and Handling
“Smooth and agile” were the twin primary goals of the 2015 Fit’s chassis development. Improving both ride comfort and handling is often viewed as contradictory and difficult to accomplish, but Honda’s engineers brought their famously thorough approach to the challenge.
Ride and handling competence begins with a strong and stable platform. Numerous improvements to the new Fit’s global and localized body stiffness provide the desired basis. Increased individual suspension component stiffness and weight reduction also contribute, and a longer wheelbase adds to ride stability by naturally reducing pitching motions.
Suspension engineers often speak of “flat ride” which refers to a vehicle’s ability to remain calm and stable, with little body motion, over small and large road imperfections. The new Fit accomplishes this desired trait through reduction of friction, optimized mounting and fine tuning of the suspension dampers and bushings, helping to give the Fit a well-controlled ride.
Superior straight-line stability plus an agile fun-to-drive character is also realized in the new Fit. Changes in the suspension geometry that lower the front roll center and raise the rear roll center positively change the weight transfer characteristics, providing a more stable, sporty and unified feel. This is easily noticed on quick transitions such as lane changes, and in cornering. The car’s response feels more accurate and natural, yet quick and agile.
The steering system upgrades combined with the suspension changes greatly enhance steering linearity and feel at all speeds. The steering feels smooth and comfortably light, with a notably linear buildup of feel and effort that complement the handling improvements.
Enhancements to the front brake calipers and brake booster improve initial brake response, making it easier for the driver to brake quickly and positively. Pedal feel is also enhanced.
Noise and Vibration
Many of the changes to the 2015 Fit’s body structure and suspension also help dampen road noise and vibration. The stiffer body structure and revised damper construction that reduces harsh body inputs on rough roads also allowed suspension engineers to better optimize spring, damper and bushing specifications for this purpose. These improvements bring a newfound calm and composure to the Fit over a wide variety of road surfaces and conditions.
Comprehensive soundproofing efforts bring further improvements, notably reducing engine, road and wind noise. The dash area of the body received particular attention to reduce noise paths; aerodynamic covers under the body reduce airflow noise while reducing aero drag.
The overall effect is a new Fit that, by virtue of eliminating or minimizing uncomfortable noise and vibration, feels and sounds unexpectedly sophisticated. And it manages to do this while retaining the pleasant and fun characteristics that make it a class leader.