• Mar 9, 2009
2009 Honda Fit Sport - Click above for high-res gallery

Evolution's a funny thing. We like our thumbs, enjoy walking upright and are thankful Ivanka Trump doesn't have a tail (although there's some debate about where she hides her horns), but when adaptation turns to automobiles, Darwin's dictum occasionally goes astray. There's a long list of vehicles we would love to see stay the same, but we understand that consumer demand and government regulation forces automakers to add amenities and tack on the pounds. The 2009 Honda Fit Sport is a perfect case-study.

Compared to the original Fit that landed on our shores in 2006, Honda's sophomore effort is larger, more spacious and marginally more powerful. But when you sit down with the spec sheet there are only a few "improvements" worth getting excited about. After spending a week with the 2009 model, we found that while evolution is good, some things need to stay the same. Make the jump to find out why.



Photos copyright ©2009 Damon Lavrinc / Weblogs, Inc.

It's tough to say which Fit is more attractive. We liked the simple honesty of the outgoing version, but as fans of the Euro Civic, the 2009 model's frontward aggression is a welcome addition. The fascia is more angular and less anonymous, and matched with the sculpted swage lines, over-styled hatch and dainty spoiler, the Fit Sport has ditched most of its mini-minivan character in favor of a dynamic shape that lends some familial cohesion to the lil' runabout. Praise be to Honda for erring on the Euro side of its recent stylistic endeavors, as we can't imagine the rhinoplastic horrors that would have afflicted the Fit if a Pilot/Ridgeline facelift found its way up front.



On the inside, the revisions are just as apparent and equally divisive. The leather-wrapped steering wheel on the Sport model is suitably chunky and the perfect diameter to live up to its trim's namesake. But for those who prefer a low wheel placement to compliment the Sport's high-riding seats, be prepared for the top of the center-mounted speedo to disappear from view.



The two-tiered stereo and climate control cluster has been dropped in favor of a singular slab of clickity-clicktastic plastic to house the audio system, and the fan, temperature and directional knobs apparently suffered a bout of elephantitus when they migrated to the left side of the stereo. While their placement might be more "driver oriented," pleas from the passenger seat to turn up the heat will be forthcoming. Thankfully, Honda got it right with the five-speed manual's shifter placement, which falls subconsciously to hand and delivers the smooth and solid action that comes with anything carrying an "H".



The front seats are what you'd expect in anything under $20-large, offering enough adjustability and padding to remain comfortable on the daily commute, but lacking the serious bolstering you'd require while tackling the bends. The rear "Magic Seats" still fold up to reveal a clean pass-through and a flat floor (we managed to fit a plasma TV with ease), and with the rear 60/40 bench backs folded down, there's 57 cu-ft of storage (15 cu-ft more than the 2008 model) for moving a dorm-full of detritus when headed home for the holidays.



The 1.5-liter inline four-cylinder engine remains, with a single overhead cam manipulating 16 valves, but output is up to 117 hp at 6,600 rpm (eight over the 2008 model) and 106 lb-ft of torque at 4,800 rpm (one lb-ft more than before). Equipped with the five-speed cog-swapper, our tester was rated at 27 mpg in the city and 33 on the highway (one mpg down from the outgoing Fit), and while the fuel tank has shrunk by 0.2 gallons, the Fit's curb weight is up by 51 pounds (2,520 pounds) – a reasonable trade-off considering the additional 4.2-inches of length.



Our First Drive revealed that Honda took considerable care to give the 2009 Fit a more relaxing ride, and apart from the engine note, which drones through the cabin while motoring along at expressway speeds, the steering and power delivery remain true to the original. Bobbing and weaving through town, the uptake and clutch engagement takes some finesse to elicit smooth shifts and the upgraded rolling stock on the Sport (185/55 all-season tires wrapped around 16-inch wheels) provide a communicative – although slightly muted– sense of what's happening underneath.



When we ventured out into the backroads where few econoboxes fear to tread, the 2009 model put up a fight, but ultimately failed to provide the buzzy thrills of its predecessor. Although output is up, the Fit doesn't dart through the corners or deliver the chuckability we've come to expect. The additional weight may be negligible, but there's an odd sense of heft at the helm, and while the front MacPherson struts do their best to keep the tires planted, the Sport-specific rear anti-roll bar can only do so much to keep the solid-beam rear-end dancing like the Patrick Swayze of our youth.



While we're keenly aware that its smoother ride and softer suspension will please the public at large – particularly those who opt for the automatic – we missed the tactility and balance the first-generation Fit delivered. But despite the 2009 model's limited (driver) engagement, the Fit is still the most entertaining runabout in its class, easily putting the Toyota Yaris, Nissan Versa and Chevrolet Aveo to shame. Factor in the $18,000 sticker our tester carried, and the only question left is whether or not the slightly devolved 2009 Honda Fit Sport is a natural selection for you.



Photos copyright ©2009 Damon Lavrinc / Weblogs, Inc.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 48 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Geared too short on the manual. Is buzzy at highway speeds, gets mediocre highway mpg.

      Give it a 6th gear on the manual that slots above 5th and I will consider it.

      But just a city car as is.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The 06-08 has slightly better proportions near the front/hood area IMO. The new one just looks like a line sloping up as you go from the front to the roof, and it is harder to differentiate the hood from the rest of the car.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I wonder if the ride in the backseat has improved? I spent 5 minutes in the back of a first generation Fit, and couldn't wait to get out. The tight quarters were a given, I didn't expect anything else for a car this size, but it was extremely harsh going over potholes and bumps. I found myself feeling carsick, which never happens to me.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The Fiesta is likely to be better and more fun.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I don't like the new front end. The one one was more clean - this one looks more feminine and reminds me of the Versa (especially the styling elements below the bumper). Also don't like the rear valence that reminds me of the Matrix/Vibe. This design looks more "North American" if that means anything. I like the original look which was pure Japanese.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Driving ANY Honda after test-driving a WRX probably wasn't the best idea. I did ~ the complete lack of torque/responsiveness is actually jarring when you get behind the wheel of a Honda. Even my friend's Prius felt peppier and more responsive.

        I think you made the right choice...
      • 5 Years Ago
      I read the headline as "Review: 2009 Honda Fit Sport is still fugly, slightly less fun."
      • 5 Years Ago
      Yet another car dumbed down for the bore-loving public in this country. At the rate we're going I won't be looking at anything new when I pick up a small sporty manual as a second car/daily driver down the road. The category seems to be going extinct here in the US...
        • 5 Years Ago
        And you need to test drive one before making the above statement - and if you have test driven one then you must have been in some other car than the one that puts a smile on my face everyday.
      • 5 Years Ago
      On the other hand, from real 2009 Honda Fit owners, I've only heard great things about its practicality and significant improvements over the first generation model as well as being just as fun to drive, if not better.
        • 5 Years Ago
        ... make that *responsive
      Brett
      • 5 Years Ago
      I really want to like the fit, but one look at the price is a huge turn off. The versa starts at $4000 less for the sedan and the yaris $2000 less. Even if its more sporty I have a hard time trying to justify the price difference. The yaris also gets better fuel economy, 29/36 vs 27/33.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @Brett
        One look at the interiors of the Fit vs. others may change your mind.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I agree with most things they said I suppose - although the bit about it not being engaging is wrong. I have an '09 Sport Auto and that thing is tons of fun to drive - I don't have a ton of experience in driving all sorts of cars but the thing I love about the Fit is that it goes right where you want it to go. And it is tossable - although it has taken some getting used to finding the right gear and RPM range to be in (love the paddle shifters - although sometimes I miss the act of shifting - living in a city having the option to let the car shift is nice) - plus good fuel economy.

      And I don't think the Fit change size classes. It still a 'small station wagon'. As long as cars stay within their size class then why shouldn't they get bigger?

      I test drove everything and the Fit was way better than all of them. I love it every day - Honda has a fan for life now.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The thing about the "not engaging" comments is that they are comparing it to the previous gen Fit. In that regard I have to agree with them completely.

        I owned an 07 Fit for about a year, and I spent a little time with an 09 I was thinking about buying. I have to say, I liked my old one better. I thought the interior was nicer in the 1st gen, not necessarily materials but the new "funky" dash design makes it obvious where they cut corners. Also there's a different "feel" to the new one from behind the wheel, you sit much farther from the windshield which made me feel less connected to the car.

        The drive was still nice, but for me at least the magic was gone. The car didn't make me want to throw it into a corner or anything like that. The 09 Fit felt like it wanted to be driven like the mini-van it resembles as opposed to the previous gen fit wanting to be driven like a sports car it had nothing in common with. I think the tires/suspension tuning are to blame for that. The new standard tires have lost a fair amount of width (something I haven't heard most of the reviewers mention) which I think contributes to a loss of overall grip/feel.

        Also I'm not sold on the exterior. The detailing on the 09 is great, way better than the previous gen. I just wish they had taken that detailing design and stuck it on the overall shape of the 1st gen. If you stick them side by side you notice they are very different in profile. The main thing is the roof line, where the high-point of the roof is in relation to the length of the car. On the previous gen Fit the high point of the roof line is over the front seats, and it starts to gently slope downward at that point all the way to the rear hatch. It's kind of like a nice coupe shape just squashed and stuck really high on the car haha. The 09 fit on the other hand has it's high-point over the rear seats, so there isn't any room for that nice flowing roofline before you hit the hatch. To me it just lost it's edge because of that change.

        But I guess there's probably still nice low-miles used 07-08 Fits out there for people like me.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I think they need to shift the Si version from the Civic to the Fit. It seems like what was really fun about the Civic Si was it's lightweight flickability. It's lost much of that in the new body style. An Si version of the Fit would be fun fun fun and practical, just like the last version of the Si.
        • 5 Years Ago
        i don't know why honda doesn't put the single cam 140 hp motor from the base civic in the fit. that car would rock.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I was interested in this but Honda turned me off with the way they offer their options. If you want stability control you need the nav system, which I don't want. Similar stuff in all their cars, whether it's the stability control in the Civic, or needing the 2 dr to get the upgraded stereo in the Civic, or requiring leather in the Accord for XM...such a turn off imo

      I've also heard the car has lost its fun, from being a fun car to drive (there's some fun in driving certain slow cars fast) to boring. And let's be honest, the thing is fugly, I had to talk myself into its looks when I was interested in it but saw enough on the road. Not to mention dealers aren't generous when selling these things, though it's probably easier now. I remember the dealer being really rude to my inquiry when they came out ('these go fast, you have to prepay, by the time we get any in they're guaranteed to be sold', now he emails me every week, lol).
        • 5 Years Ago
        No kidding. For instance, 2009 is the first year you could even get side air bags in an F-150. They were not even an option before 2009.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Its not just Honda, all manufactures make you pay for premium packages to get a few things you want.
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