2013 Honda Fit EV: First Drive Of Honda's All-Electric Car Page 2

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2013 Honda Fit EV drive event, Pasadena, CA, June 2012

2013 Honda Fit EV drive event, Pasadena, CA, June 2012

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The front and rear bumper fascias and side sill extensions have been reshaped to smooth airflow around and past the car, and a very different roof spoiler has been fitted over the rear window.

Together, those changes reduce the drag coefficient by 14 percent, Honda said, making the Fit EV as slippery as a longer (and hence more aerodynamic) sedan.

Sitting higher

The floor-mounted battery pack requires the entire car to be raised half an inch, with larger plastic trim surrounding the wheel-well edges to balance the increased height.

The rear seat also sits 1.4 inches higher and 3.3 inches rearward, with the backrest raked an extra 4 degrees to provide adequate headroom.

A 6-foot-tall man sitting in the back had adequate legroom, but only about 2 inches of headroom--and the rake of the seatback was noticeable and, to some, uncomfortable.

With the rear seat moved back and a flat load floor stretching from the base of the tailgate, cargo volume is somewhat lower than that of the standard Fit.

2013 Honda Fit EV drive event, Pasadena, CA, June 2012

2013 Honda Fit EV drive event, Pasadena, CA, June 2012

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More importantly, while the 60/40 split rear seatback folds forward, the seat is fixed and no longer folds down on itself and forward to open up the entire rear of the car for cargo.


Goal: fun to drive

Honda executives, including Sachito Fujimoto, the car's Large Project Leader, stressed that the company's goal was to build an electric car that offered excellent electric range, the highest fuel efficiency rating, short recharging time--and retained every bit of the standard Fit's "fun to drive" personality.

In that, we'd say Honda was largely successful.

Like an increasing number of cars today, the Honda Fit EV offers a choice of driving modes. The default is "Normal," with a more powerful "Sport" mode and a power-saving "Eco" mode--selected with buttons on the left projection of the instrument cluster behind the steering wheel.

Normal mode, which provides 75 kW (101 hp) of motor output, is sufficient for most everyday uses.

Eco mode, on the other hand, which restricts output to 47 kW (63 hp), is grim and frustrating, and will likely be used only by the most masochistic...errrrr, dedicated...of drivers.

Honda Fit EV shown at Los Angeles Auto Show, Nov 2011

Honda Fit EV shown at Los Angeles Auto Show, Nov 2011

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Sport mode: the fun one!

Click the Fit EV into Sport mode, though, and the fun factor increases. It becomes a powerful subcompact, with lots of torque delivered from rest, and offers the ability to spin the inside front wheel when accelerating through turns--even uphill.

Honda said Sport mode gives the Fit EV equivalent performance to that of a gasoline vehicle with engines as big as 3.5 liters, though it didn't provide acceleration times.

It did provide the single data point that the throttle response and passing power in Sport mode was better than that of a BMW Z4 3.0Si in its own Sport mode.

While we didn't do any timed tests, we'd happily take the Fit EV on virtually any type of road knowing that Sport mode was there--not something we can say about every electric car we've driven.

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