It's a Car Rant...with Patrice
Reliable, efficient, compact, humble and cheap. These are the words you’d expect to hear from one describing the Honda Jazz/Fit but well, here in Zimbabwe it’s a totally different story. It’s a car known for harboring the worst of drivers, unlicensed pirating(Mshika shika), bad driving habits annnd if you are a young man like myself, expect to be stopped at almost every road block for a thorough inspection. Having driven one and enjoyed its nimbleness, unbelievable efficiency and economy (the best in its category by far) I feel it’s a car that has received a bad rap and has been heavily stereotyped to a point where we forget how good a car it is.
Introduced in 2001 the “Fit” was developed to set the new benchmark for small low cost cars. It brought along tons of innovations such as the centre tank layout and compact suspension enabling a reconfigurable interior which in turn created a regularized cargo volume that gives even larger cars a run for their money. The Fit came in the market with a 1.2, 1.3 and 1.5L coupled with either a 5 speed manual, 5 speed auto or a CVT-7 automatic, churning out power ratings of about 65kw/87hp at 5,500rpm and a Max torque of 131N.m/97lb.ft at 2.700rpm for the 8valve i-DSI and up to 81Kw /109hp at 5.800rpm and a max torque of 143N.m/105lb.ft at 4.800rpm for the sportier 16 valve VTEC these numbers might seem meager but bear in mind the Honda Fit weighs a humble 1,084kg and 1,032kg for the 2nd Gen. Some markets got rear disc brakes unlike the Japanese models that still used rear drum brakes to bring the hatch to a halt. With the 2006 facelift came new front fascia new sporty side skirts side mirror mounted indicators LED brake lights ,third brake light and minor interior changes.
The Honda Fit was voted the second best vehicle in the United Kingdom in 2006 second to its sporty sister the Honda S2000. Topgear stated that the hatchback is the closest to reality car money can buy meaning it could cover most automotive needs that man has today. It became the ”supermini” to have the best overall performance for combined safety in its class with a safety rating of 4 out of 5 stars
The second generation from 2007-14 won car of the year Japan in its debut year. It offered a longer wheel base and it was wider and longer than the first generation. This meant more interior space, 164 percent more structural rigidity, an improved ride and handling. With this generation came the Honda hybrid with a 1,3l engine coupled to an “ultra thin” electric motor to maintain the space and interior configuration whilst achieving an efficient weight distribution. The hybrid brought with it lower CO₂ emissions and a higher mpg/k which made it a great choice for the environmentally conscious and in our Zimbabwean environment with skyrocketing fuel prices and long queues, most favorable for its fuel economy estimated at 3.3km per 100km the hybrid Fit. Furthermore it became the lowest priced petrol-hybrid vehicle. It also came with a 1.3l i-VTEC producing 74kw at 6.000rpm and 94lb.ft at 4.800rpm and the beefier 1.5l i-VTEC producing 88kw at 6.600rpm and 107lb.ft at 4.800rpm these coupled to either a 5 speed manual or the CVT auto transmission.
Throughout the years the Honda fit/jazz has become bigger, smarter, “greener” and more technologically advanced. Now in its 4th generation (which I won’t really go into as its not so popular here in Zimbabwe yet) there’s no doubt it is a superb minicar with countless awards to back this statement. It’s quite unfortunate how like a dozen more cars like the civic and altezza, its been tainted by the deeds of some of its owners. It being such a great and affordable little car to have, basically explains why they flooded the market here in Zim. Accessible to both the “good” and the “bad”, I have gone through all the specs and having driven one I can safely say I will ignore all the stereotypes surrounding it and rather enjoy it for its reliability, economy, and innovation .I might curse at a fellow Fit driver doing the usual “Fit driving “now and then and dread the road blocks but truth is the little Japanese car will always have room in my list of beloved cars.