2015 Honda Fit surpasses the Sonic RS; Fiesta EcoBoost makes non-ST more of a contender.

You’d be correct if you’re looking at this blog post thinking “hasn’t he done this already?” Well yeah, but that was over a year ago (https://manuallyshiftedsoul.wordpress.com/2013/06/20/small-and-simple-2014-corolla-to-the-ford-sts/), and a couple things have changed. Namely in the Ford Fiesta, Chevy Sonic, and more importantly, the Honda Fit.

We all knew the Fiesta ST would be something when it hit the U.S., and it is. But something I didn’t foresee was the 1.0L three-cylinder EcoBoost engine becoming a middle-spot contender for the buyer, between the regular 1.6L four and the hot ST 1.6-turbo mill. Tests put the new EcoBoost three-pot in an above-average 0-60 time of around 8.5 seconds (C/D got 8.3 for hatch, and 8.7 for sedan)—in a land of Sonic and Accent pushing 7.9, and Versa’s in the high 9’s, that’s a commendable improvement of half-a-second or more off the usual Fiesta run, while chucking out a 45mpg EPA highway rating. With the inherently good Fiesta chassis still there, it’s a good little package, but still small in the class.

Chevy’s Sonic hasn’t really moved up its game with the RS model, and with the price sitting painfully close to the Fiesta ST, it’s no bargain. To add to that, the 2015 Honda Fit is the new kid in the lower-classman playground. With a new six-speed manual transmission and direct injected DOHC powerplant, Honda took what was already good about the Fit (efficient use of space and relatively nimble dynamics), and adding in some power and fuel-economy. The Fit EX manual, as tested by Car & Driver, had barely surpassed the Sonic RS manual in 0-60, and further embarrasses it even beyond that (still pulling away into triple digits), while still providing better as-tested and EPA economy ratings. Plus having a better shifter than the Chevy, and the MagicSeat for less money, the Honda is just the better choice unless you step up to the Fiesta ST—and we haven’t even seen a sport trim for the Fit yet.  Though the Fit still has its downsides, as the C&D test points out (the gearing will still make it a frantic revver at freeway speeds, and things like the steering, brakes, and clutch aren’t as crisp as they once were).  This doesn’t come as much of a shock, since the 2001-2005 Civic seemed to do the same thing compared to the generations before and after it.

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Updates and what to expect in the next couple weeks.

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After nearly a year of hiatus, I figured in my spare time between school and work, I can blog about what all has been going on for myself, my car, and the industry (at least from what I’ve seen of it). People tell me not to give up on it, and really, I guess I never will, since cars are still something I love.  That and I know there are a couple new subscribers, so here’s to not disappointing.

Firstly, I’m loving the new career direction of being a railroad worker. It’s pretty much common sense stuff in class (like looking both ways before crossing the tracks). I’m actually giddy about the prospect of doing it for a living.
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Until my railroading classes are complete and my career officially begins, I have my first real job in years, as a driver for a car auction house. It’s not a lot of hours, but it’s great to be able to say I have a job, and I really like the environment. The position has put me in a number of vehicles of varying ages,, conditions, layouts, and performance levels. I’ve been able to feel for myself the difference between the 2010 Mustang GT 4.6L manual, and the 2013 Mustang GT 5.0L manual—5.0L has the more forgiving clutch and smoother shifter, but the 4.6L still has the better sound. There are numerous other manuals (and otherwise) I’ve been able to sample, which has slowly built my palette for what a car should be like, and what cars tend to age better than others.

A downside of my moving and going to school in Sacramento is the wear on my car. Exposure to the elements as opposed to being in a garage has made my clearcoat start going berserk, and more recently my trunk seems to have sprung a small leak around the seal from all the rain and leaves of this much-needed wet season in Northern California. Most notable, however, is the original engine giving up at 474,991 miles (I kept the it to tear down later). Cheaping out a bit on oil changes may have been a key factor in this, but it did allow for a fresher engine to be swapped in with only 35,000 miles, and my header was put on.  For some reason they couldn’t get the pulley on, and I still can’t break the bolt to do it myself.
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Upgrades like Scion xA seats (more supportive), xA center console and shifter (aesthetic), a strut-tower brace, larger throttle body from a 2000 Corolla, and 195mm tires on all four corners (though I miss the rotation of the 185’s in back) are in place since my last post, topped with a red accent to the front grille for a little added rice sportiness, because I can at least argue it isn’t exactly stock.

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The transmission is a bit messed up from a badly aligned clutch, but it’s not like I was ever nice to it anyway… though I did order a short-throw shifter with the early Christmas check I received, probably going to increase the wear on it.

Upcoming posts are undoubtedly about observations on recent automotive releases (probably of subcompacts and sportscars), and some of my experiences during my time as an auction driver (at least, the more memorable vehicles).