Honda of America showed its all-new 2015 Fit to a group of media in Detroit Dec. 17, ahead of the car’s official North American debut at the 2014 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). The quasi-secrecy surrounding the Detroit media unveiling was a bit odd, given that an early drive report on the new B-segment sedan by Motor Trend magazine (based on a July 2013 preview at Honda’s Takasu Proving Ground) is posted, with an array of approved images, on motortrend.com.
The large group of Detroit media was given the lone teaser photo of a Fit rear taillamp shown here.
But the big engineering news for the Fit’s competitors is the new Honda gets its own version of the company’s stout ACE (Advanced Compatibility Engineering) body structure, constructed of high levels of high-strength and ultrahigh-strength steel and featuring unique door-ring assemblies. “With the addition of the ACE structure on the new Fit, our entire model range now features the ACE occupant protection,” Chuck Thomas, Chief Engineer, Safety, at Honda R&D told AEI.
Thomas is optimistic the 2015 Fit will perform better than the 2013 version, which has scored “good” (top) Insurance Institute of Highway Safety ratings in the side impact, roof strength, and rear crash protection/head restraint testing.
Veteran Honda Chief Engineer Makoto Konishi led the development program. The car’s Chief Designer is Toshinobu Minami. Chassis tuning was the province of Terumasa Kotada, who benchmarked the Volkswagen Polo in terms of vehicle dynamics, according to the Motor Trend article.
The new Fit’s wheelbase adds about 2 in (50 mm) to the incumbent car’s 98.4 in (2499 mm), while its overall length, width, and height are nearly the same—currently 161.6 in (4105 mm), 66.7 in (1694 mm), and 60 in (1524 mm), respectively. Official specs will come during the NAIAS.
The car’s exterior form is best described as being a fresher, bolder evolution of the incumbent Fit, perhaps mildly inspired by Honda’s handsome Clarity FCV, in the author’s view. The global subcompact will be built at Honda’s new plant in Celaya, Mexico, beginning in 3Q14, which Honda of America Senior Vice President Mike Acavitti said will provide much needed North American production capacity for the model that has thus far been imported from Asia.
The new platform also underpins a compact crossover utility (introduced at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show as the 2014 Vezel for the Japanese market), which also will be built at Celaya for North America for MY15. The new Fit Hybrid (featuring the company’s new single motor/DCT drive system), battery EV, and sporty RS variants, the latter featuring a turbocharged 1.5 L and 6-speed manual transmission, are also in the pipeline for MY15-16.
In addition to the new stronger and more crashworthy body structure, Fit gets significantly upgraded 1.5-L four-cylinder Earth Dreams engines (including a move to DOHC valvetrains and direct injection) offering 127 hp (98 kW) and 111 lb·ft (150 N·m). They're coupled with CVT or six-speed manual gearboxes to provide up to 10% greater fuel efficiency than the 2014 car. The HEV version will use an Atkinson-cycle engine, and the EV will feature a unique suspension system.
The base car rides on front MacPherson struts and a torsion-beam-type rear setup. Steering is by a rack-mounted electric system. The base car relies on drum-type rear brakes, a cost-saving measure.
At the Detroit media event in December, Honda officials also noted that Acura will show a prototype of its new 2015 TLX sedan at the 2014 NAIAS. Based on the Accord platform, the TLX replaces the Acura TL.