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.