Get the Automatic - 2009 Honda Fit Sport Long-Term Road Test

2009 Honda Fit Long-Term Road Test

2009 Honda Fit Sport: Get the Automatic

March 13, 2009

(Photo by Scott Jacobs)

Thinking about adding a 2009 Honda Fit (or any Honda Fit, this applies to the last gen, too) to your own personal long term fleet? Stay away from the manual and go for the five-speed automatic instead.

Why? Because the clutch and shifter mechanism in this car is pathetic. It's irritating and sloppy. The engagement point of the clutch is too high and offers little feedback when met. The clutch is too light. An untied shoelace flopped over the pedal would push it down. The uptake is so light I'm often wondering if the pedal is going with my foot, or if it's just decided to stay on the floor.

And then there's the shifter.

Kurt Niebuhr, in his 135 blog, said the M3's shifter felt like dislocating a cadaver's elbow. I would relish that sort of feel in the '09 Honda Fit. If the M3's shifter is like dislocating the elbow, the Fit's action is like shaking that limb around by the wrist with reckless abandon -- a practce, incidentally, that is frequent amongst Med School students when they're done with a particular limb -- hoping the ball with fall back into the socket. And don't start with the cartoonish shift knob. It looks like a Super Ball, feels like a Super Ball and has about as much business being on a shift lever as a Super Ball.

All of the above applies to daily driving. Get the Fit out on a twisty road with frequent hard shifts and the clutch / shifter combo is fine. Maybe even good. But that's a scenario where you're spending as little time as possible using those components, shifting as fast as is prudent to keep the revs where they need to be. And it's probably the place the average Fit will spend the least amount of time.

Getting an automatic does have some drawbacks: The automatic is slower by about 2-seconds according to our tests. I don't care in the slightest and I doubt most Fit buyers would even notice. Also, the automatic with shift paddles on the sport package is an extra $850.

Like with the G35/37 I should want the manual transmisison, but I don't.

Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant

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