Do Paddles Really Fit in the Honda Fit Sport?

Yes, everyone knows that Honda has a habit of making cars with strong engines and transmission that can turn some pretty impressive track times. But, there are times when you have to wonder what some marketing genius was thinking about when decision was made to put shifting paddles into the Honda Fit Sport.

Come on, guys, think about this for a minute. The Fit, with its normally aspirated 1.5-liter, 117-horsepower engine, is a quick car to begin with. The tiny hatchback looks like it weighs about 12 pounds soaking wet (it actually weighs about 2,500 pounds) and it really seems a shame that more people don’t opt for the smooth-shifting Honda five-speed. That has always been one of the strong selling points of the line. The Honda shifter features positive, short, close-spaced throws and smooth, short, positive clutch action.

Interestingly, this applies to any Honda model, including the Fit, so you wonder why anyone would opt for anything else, but there are those who want the five-speed automatic and who don’t want to shift for themselves and this makes an addition to the 2011 Fit even stranger.

If you are familiar with high-performance vehicles like the BMW M-Series or the AMG 55 from Mercedes, you know that sitting just above halfway up the steering wheel and behind it are a set of paddles that allow you to “shift for yourself,” if you want to or you can just let the automatic do the shifting for you.

“Real drivers,” of course, opt for the paddles. These “real drivers” are, one would think, the “real, real drivers” of the Fit because they can take the Sport model and hold the shift to a high-point in the rpm cycle and then drop down a gear or climb up, if you are going to the other way. It’s a shame that those other “not-so-real-drivers,” the ones who apparently need training wheels for the standard-equipped cars, just aren’t “real” Fit drivers because they don’t use the paddles. They just rely on that silvery thing in the middle of the center console with the funny numbers on it and the third pedal on the left of the driver’s foot well.

We suppose you could look at things that way, however, if you think about it the real drivers of the Fit are those who do opt for the standard transmission, they are the ones who can extract all the performance that is built into the engine/transaxle combination and its 6,800 rpm rev limit.

In all honesty, the torquey 1.5-liter powerplant and its 6,800 rpm rev limit do deliver 117 horsepower at 6,600 rpm and 106 pounds-feet of torque at 4,800 which means this is an engine that likes to be revved to obtain maximum power.

Overall, we like the Fit very much. For a micro-car — in this case a micro-hatchback — it holds a huge amount and it can carry four in pretty good comfort as it does hold its line through turns and around corners. The beauty of the Fit is the low center of gravity and a wheelbase that fits the center of gravity. It is a nice, stable car whose lines are sleek and which features a greenhouse that gives you a panoramic view all around. That it averages about 38 mpg between city and highway driving is just frosting on this cake. Some would think the paddles are the frosting, but, in all honesty they still have us scratching our heads.

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