2018 Honda Fit Sport Quick Spin Review

The suburban Seattle area was (and still is) full of 5- to 10-year-old Honda Civics, and it feels like it’s been that way forever. A steady supply of reliable, inexpensive, efficient, and perhaps even attractive used cars fed a serious tuner community with its own style. Forget about the Hollywood glam rock of the “Fast and Furious” franchise; the Seattle look was low and clean, varying between functional handling improvements and something that would later evolve into the stance movement. And just like the 2018 Honda Fit I drove for a week, there was a fundamental goodness to them that transcended their economy car bones.

Of course, from the fourth-generation car in 1987 up until the seventh-generation cars in 2001, all Civics had fundamentally good suspension design. It was a place that Honda spent some extra money, rather than simply fit MacPherson struts and call it a day. Not only did that mean there was good geometry to start with, there was room for the aftermarket to improve upon things significantly without having to reengineer the A-arms.

The shift linkages were also stellar, using a pair of rods instead of the cheaper cable solution — something that wouldn’t last, although Honda still manages to make cable shifters feel pretty good. But the point is, Civics were cheap economy cars that managed to be a hoot to drive, and a great starting point for builds — FWD drag cars, corner carvers, or slammed cruisers. The Civic, more than any other car around here, made it possible to have a lot of fun for not a lot of money.

On the other hand, the 130 horsepower (at 6,600 RPM) and 114 pound-feet of torque (at 4,600 RPM) the Fit makes bests the 1996 Civic EX’s once laudable figures by a fair margin. That car made 127 hp (6,600 RPM) and a measly 107 lb-ft (5,500 RPM) — and that peak torque came 900 RPM later than the Fit’s. A sixth-generation coupe weighed just 2,342 pounds, while the Fit is much heavier — 2,522 pounds. Those extra pounds can be explained by the far more rigorous safety equipment requirements.

If you’re a Fit owner interested in slaloming up and down the canyons, there’s a semi-aftermarket solution: HFP springs and dampers. My car wasn’t so fitted, but we drove an HFP-modified Fit earlier this year, and it nails the dynamics that made old Civics so charismatic.

But even the dead stock Fit Sport I drove, with its heft and dynamic foibles, has more vintage Honda character than anything comparable — not to mention packaging efficiency and cargo-carrying abilities that are near miraculous. The tiny details, like the cupholder to the left of the steering wheel, exude an offbeat charm, too. In a market overrun with crossovers that carry less with far less charm, the Fit reminds me again of all the reasons people fell in love with Hondas in the first place.