I would never admit to being mad online. I would never let a hater get a moment's pleasure out of my innermost feelings of betrayal. But this is different. We in America might have gotten the new Honda Fit, but we didn't. And I drove one. And it was wonderful. I'm pissed!
As it happens, through a series of unfortunate circumstances, it has become clear that I may, myself, need to be the owner or caretaker of a modern car. Annoying! I already have all the car I need, my 1974 Volkswagen Beetle that very often reaches my intended destination. But being forced into looking at the new and relatively-new market only reminds me how happy I'd be to have a nicely trimmed, well made, not-too-big, still pretty practical, hybrid hatchback. That's this Honda Fit, with its 1.5-liter four-cylinder hybrid drivetrain.
Technically this is a Honda Jazz, a Honda Jazz Crosstar, borrowed for a trip that entailed driving from London to the Isle of Skye and back. I really thought about getting a Honda e for the trek, but I decided against it (wisely, I think). For these kinds of drives—some short-distance bopping around cities and villages punctuated by long highway slogs—hybrids make a lot of sense in comparison to pure EVs. If you want a hybrid Honda in America, though, your only options are the rather large Accord or the even bigger CR-V. If you want anything smaller, you'll have to wait until the Civic Hybrid returns next year. I find that infuriating.
You may also find the specs of this Crosstar infuriating. You get 107 hp, 97 lb-ft of torque, and 50 mpg, combined, on the WLTP cyle. The UK price is between 28,000 and 29,000 pounds, and around the same in Euros in the EU. The pound is stronger than the euro right now, but it's hard to imagine this car would come too near the $30,000 mark if it was on the American market. Weight—with all your options, trims, and in this Crosstar's case, some plastic body cladding—barely crests 2760 lbs, again according to Honda's UK spec sheet. I am mad! This is the light, economical, not-a-shitbox economy car I want to buy! And I can't!
Beyond the spec sheet, this little egg-shaped car turned out to be more than perfect at the job I needed it to do. It was small, with extraordinarily good visibility for getting me out of the center of London, still only half-remembering how to manage a RHD car on RHD roads. It was spectacularly frugal on the long highway drive north, with gas just under $7/gallon at the exchange rate at the time. (I easily averaged 60 mpg, which calculates down to about 50 mpg in American gallons.) As the roads narrowed into Scotland, again this wee Jazz outdid itself, happily squeezing between guardrail and oncoming truck in many of Scotland's one-and-a-half-lane, two-way highways.
Out on the highlands, the Jazz loped across open moors, revealing a suspension that could only be described as "bouncy," sort of hopping from undulation to undulation. It tucked into corners with a kind of... eagerness? Zeal? Vigor? It was soft and comfortable and somehow scrappy on the sort of rural route where you'd expect to see an Aston Martin evading a trail of baddies. These aren't really even the kind of roads for a modern sports car anymore, I don't think. The stretches of middle-of-nowhere pavement getting up to the Isle of Skye are too tight and rough and wet and greasy for that kind of car. I saw an Audi RS3 up there and it looked absolutely enormous. The Honda was more than enough, its CVT (there is no manual option for the Jazz in the UK anymore) buzzily hanging onto revs like the tires hanging onto the tarmac. Anything bigger, anything more powerful would have been a waste. It would have been a pain.
I cherished this Honda. I loved it. It worked for me, in a way that few cars do. Everything about it seemed tailored to make my life easier and more comfortable. The visibility was part of it, sure, but the interior, too, was so thoughtfully and cleanly designed. A beautifully straight dash extended away from me in the driver's seat, low, with nothing obscuring my view. I was charmed. I had tons of space, tons of light; I had a free mind getting into the Jazz.
If I have to be honest, while the car was perfect, I am not sure that the life I live matches its strengths. Back home in America, the roads are so big that a Jazz would feel puny. A Prius better matches American tastes, or Honda's more lumpen CR-V. I am not surprised that Honda considered bringing the Fit here, but decided against it midway through development. We get the HR-V. We just can't get it as a hybrid, so its fuel economy can't match the delightful Jazz. Maybe that's fine, at least for most of cheap-gas America.
Still, I want this thing. I want to tailor my life around it. Move to the mountains where the roads are old. Where they are narrow. Where things start to look more like Scotland, where life, and cars, are slow.
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