The Hot Hatchback Segment is Growing: Where is Our Honda Fit Si?
Honda is coming back in a big way: the new Civic Si, Civic Type-R and a supposed S2000 successor are all in the pipeline. However, those models all bring up an interesting point: the Civic has continually grown in size, meaning that if you want a truly compact Honda, it has to the be the Fit. However, no hot version of the Fit exists. Where is our Fit Si? More importantly: where is our Fit Type-R?
What the Fit Si Should Be.
Since being introduced to the North American market in 2007, the Fit has remained a relatively simple, inexpensive, little hatchback. Revisions have been made to it’s 1.5L “L15″ engine and it’s now producing 130 horsepower. With the introduction of the turbocharged L15 engine in the forthcoming Civic Si, the Fit Si game plan becomes clearer. We expect the Si to produce in the neighborhood of 230 horsepower. Turn down the wick a bit, to, say, 180 horsepower and drop it into the Fit. With 180 horsepower, and crucially the big bump in turbocharged torque, that should be plenty to propel the 2600 pound Fit swiftly enough. Pair that a 6-speed manual transmission, drop in the helical LSD from the Civic Si and we have the powertrain figured out.
From there, uprated struts and shocks, paired to slightly lowered, stiffer springs and larger anti-roll bars can round out the suspension changes. This is all relatively simple to implement, as the aftermarket can attest to. Actually, all Honda needs to do is introspect and look internally, as the parts are already there and available. Honda Performance Development (HPD) offers a kit to convert a Fit into a Production B-Spec racer, and surprise surprise, the kit features custom springs, shocks and brakes. That was easy. Round off the package with some slick looking wheels, say 15×7” in size with some fun 205-section width tires and we are in business. See? None of that sounds overly complicated. Charge a price premium for the go-fast parts, say $21,000 starting, and it’s an easy bid to restore some sporting credentials to the Honda name.
See the Fit above? I have run into a few people shaking these “B-Spec” Fits, prepared by HPD, at the track. They are no slouches. C’mon Honda, HPD already made the template, trace carefully and stay within the lines and we’re good to go!
This is the Competition, and They Are Good.
This is the Chevy Sonic turbo, hold back your laughter, GM’s latest sub-compact is actually really good. I drove one and was quite impressed with it’s agility in Los Angeles’ canyon roads. It has a 1.4L turbocharged engine making 138 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque. That may sound down on power to our proposed Fit Si, but crucially, you can get into one for $18,000 before incentives. That’s a good chunk cheaper than our Fit Si price estimates. In the world of turbocharged engines, the Sonic is an exhaust and tune away from matching that 180 horsepower figure.
Here is the top dog in the sub-compact hot hatch class: the Ford Fiesta ST. It’s marginally heavier than the current Fit Sport (we are assuming the Si would be similarly light), however, it’s 1.6L turbo engine is kicking out a big time 197 horsepower and 202 lb-ft of torque. I have driven the FiST as well, and it’s the one to beat. The handling is superbly balanced out of the box for a front-wheel drive car. The baby EcoBoost engine hits hard low in the power band, meaning it can claw out of corners with ferocity. Ford offers some excellent options with the Fiesta ST, including, crucially, the Recaro bucket seats. These seats work amazingly well at holding drivers in place at the track. The overall package is really strong here, and should be the definitive benchmark for Honda.
Meet the newest kid on the block. Toyota has finally injected some brawn into it’s Yaris, and is promising big things. Thus far it’s been confirmed only in European markets, but Toyota would be foolish to not bring it stateside. Details are scarce, but Toyota is making much fanfare about the car’s ties to it’s rally-bred WRC sibling. This wild Yaris is said to be packing “at least 210 horsepower,” and may put the establishment on notice. Right off the bat, I spy aerodynamic tweaks, a lowered stance and some slick looking wheels, likely wrapped in good rubber. Toyota isn’t messing around: 210 horsepower will make a Yaris fly.
The competition has ramped up significantly in the past few years. We would really like to see Honda take a page from their American racing division and inject some sportiness into the Fit. Maybe they’ve forgotten what Si means: Sport Injected, and what that meant to the brand: the power of dreams. We eagerly await the dormant passion and fastidious engineering that put Honda on the map 25 years ago to reawaken.