2009 Honda Fit Sport: Honda's Shifting Priorities
November 06, 2009
Last week I called the Honda Fit the "no-brainer" winner among econoboxes, and nothing changed my mind in the spirited discussion that ensued. But what I'm stuck on today is the fact that the Fit is frankly the only no-brainer Honda has left. Back in the day, this company was an engineer's delight, pushing the envelope with thrilling VTEC engines, focused interior designs, distinctive low cowls and sophisticated driving dynamics. Now it makes the Pilot and the TSX and the overrated Accord. What happened? Where did the so-called Japanese BMW go wrong?
I'm prepared to accept the sales argument. You know how it goes. "Americans don't like that old kind of Honda. They don't care about how a Prelude VTEC sounds at 7,000 rpm, or an Integra GS-R at 8,000, or even a mid-'90s Accord EX at 6,500. They don't care about superior forward visibility or classically sporty gauges. They never noticed the instantaneous steering response of those old hydraulic-assist Hondas, the remarkable precision of their manual transmissions, the extraordinary athleticism they displayed in corners despite those ridiculously skinny OEM tires.
"What Americans want is size, broader powerbands and chunky styling, and maybe some randomly weird dashboard layouts. And that's what the new Honda provides."
Fair enough. But as an enthusiast who's intimately familiar with the old Honda, I can't help feeling like the company has lost its edge. It used to be the engaging Japanese option, the one with superior engineering that made you feel like you got what you paid for. Now, I'm searching for reasons why I shouldn't tell people to buy Fords or Hyundais instead.
Josh Sadlier, Associate Editor @ 14,458 miles