When I first heard of the Fit EV, I was skeptical of a compliance car from Honda. Then people started driving the cars and I was hearing great things. I had to try it out. My friend Peder Norby just got his hands on his own Honda Fit EV and he let me drive his today. Wow! What an amazing car!! It is similar to both the MINI E and the Honda Civic Hybrid that I’m currently driving.
Driving the Fit is amazing. I had a huge smile on my face for the entire 20 minute test drive. As began to drive off, I heard an ominous noise. Honda has made the Fit EV emit a UFO-like noise driving at low speeds. Unlike the LEAF, this cannot be turned off and is only at extremely low speeds (I’d say less than 10 mph). The noise is the same going in forward and reverse and there is no speaker on the rear of the car, so it’s not too helpful when backing out. As I began driving faster, I was amazed at how quick the car was accelerating. I had heard it was similar to the MINI E, but I guess I didn’t really believe it.
I soon realized I was in “ECON” mode. I couldn’t believe how quick the car was in ECON! I switched it to SPORT and WOAH! This is where the car really feels like the MINI E. The instant torque of the electric motor jerks your head back and presses you into the seat. I actually found it difficult to drive in SPORT at low speeds, because the car is so torquey. Unlike the Volt’s Sport mode, which simply remaps the accelerator pedal, the Fit EV’s sport mode actually gives you more power (in addition to remapping the accelerator pedal). The power gauge grows and you can see the extra power you have available. I didn’t drive much in NORMAL mode, because SPORT was so much fun. Of course the car was still super quick in NORMAL mode, but you don’t have access to that extra power available in SPORT, which could be a safety issue.
Like most other modern EVs, the Fit blends the regen into the brake pedal, but also has a “B” mode, which puts more regen in the accelerator. I would say it’s pretty similar to the Volt’s “L” mode. One great thing about the Fit EV, (which my Civic does and the MINI E did) is that it shows the driver how much they are accelerating or regening on a scale. The Volt has something similar, but it’s based purely on acceleration and I can’t see when I’ve reached maximum regen or 50% acceleration, etc. Another unique feature of the FIt EV (which the MINI E also had), is that it actually shows the driver the state of charge (SoC) in a percentage. Vehicles like the Volt and LEAF only show the SoC in terms of miles remaining, which has proven to be somewhat inaccurate and misleading. The Fit EV gives the driver both pieces of information, which is extremely useful.
Today was a hot humid day and the Fit EV’s AC works great! I wouldn’t say it’s as good as the MINI E (which had possibly the greatest AC of all time), but it’s better than many other AC’s I’ve experienced. I tried the heater and it seemed to be in line with other EV heaters. I did not try the heated seats, but both from seats are heated. The Fit EV does not have climate zones (which I think is a good thing), just a simple temperature controller, fan controller, and “AUTO”, “MODE”, and “AC” buttons. This is almost exactly the same as my Civic’s climate control, which I think is great!
The infotainment center of the Fit EV is definitely more advanced than my 2007 Civic, but it’s nowhere near the Volt. However, simplicity isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There is a touch-screen nav system with CD player and AM/FM radio, Aux Jack, USB port (which is oddly in the glove compartment), and Bluetooth. The nav shows nearby charging stations (though it isn’t as accurate as my iPhone apps) as well as a radius of how far the car can go with the remaining battery. The speakers in the Fit EV are okay. Peder said they are better than the MINI E, but not as good as the ActiveE. I think they are about the same as the Civic’s speakers. Nothing special. While the infotainment center on the whole is nicer than the Civic and MINI E, it seems a bit outdated when compared with that of the LEAF, Volt, or Focus Electric. It’s not a deal breaker, just a little disappointing.
The Honda Fit EV lacks a few other standard features, such as keyless entry and keyless ignition. Again, these are minor disappointments. The Fit EV has two key fobs. The first is a standard key that locks and unlocks the car and opens the charge door. The second is a long-range fob (~100m), which lets the user view SoC, turn climate on, verify that the vehicle is charging, and more. It’s neat, but I’m not sure how much I’d use it. It seems a little clunky to add to my keychain. Honda has a mobile app which can do all of this as well. Peder said that the mobile app and web interface are very stable and work great.
The charge door is located in front of the driver’s door, just like in the Volt and Focus Electric. This is a really convenient place, and I’m glad Honda didn’t simply reuse the fuel door from the standard Fit. When you open the charge door, there is a small light that lights up the entire area very well. This is great. The 2013 Volts no longer come with a flashlight in the charge cord, which is a bummer because plugging in in the dark can be a pain. The Fit EV’s only SoC indicator from outside the car (excluding key fob, mobile app, etc) is a small green LED next to the charge port. When the Fit EV’s LED is solid green, the car is charging. This is a little misleading, but the Volt does the same thing. When the charge is nearing an end, the green LED starts blinking (in the Volt blinking means charge complete). When the Fit EV is done charging, the light turns off. I am thinking I may have to put a little label saying: “green light indicates charge in process” so people don’t unplug me thinking that green means fully charged.
If you couldn’t tell, I am in love with this car and I am probably going to lease one. I am well into the application process now and things are moving along nicely. I may see if I can test drive a Focus EV, but I haven’t been hearing great things about it like I did with the Fit EV. I will see if there are any available for a test drive, as I don’t know anyone with one. Honda and Ford: People buy cars after test driving them at the dealership (after seeing them speed around in commercials)! EVs are no different!
I didn’t cover everything about the Fit EV here. If you have any questions, let me know and I’ll do my best to answer them!