By Eve Pickman.
Small cars seem to fall into two distinct categories – cute or practical. Vehicles like the 2013 Honda Fit Sport falls into the later, the 2013 Fiat 500 Lounge falls squarely into the former. Love them or hate them, there’s a market for both of them.
The 2013 Honda Fit Sport is a big little car in other ways, with seating for 4 neatly packaged inside of 5-door hatchback. The Honda Fits 117-hp 1.5-Liter 4-Cylinder Engine comes either with a standard 5-speed manual transmission or optional 5-speed automatic with paddle shifters for $850 more. The 5-speed automatic is slow to run through the gears, leaving the Fit feeling anemic and underpowered at times. The Honda Fit Sport is rated for 28 city/35 highway/31 combined mpg when equipped with the 5-speed automatic transmission; the 5-speed manual is rated for 27 city/33 highway/29 combined mpg. This is one case where moving up to the automatic saves money in the long run.
The 2013 Fiat 500 Lounge is powered by a 1.4-liter I4 MultiAir® engine that produces 101 horsepower and 98 lb-ft of torque. It’s a zippy car, with a 5-speed manual transmission, which can be upgraded to a 6-speed automatic for $1,250. Select the Sport mode button and the 500 Lounge tightens up the shift points and suspension, adding a touch of spice to the sexy Italian offering. Quiet, with 15-inch alloy wheels, 4-wheel ABS disc brakes, a fixed glass roof and heavy, solid doors that close with a responding thump, short range highway trips are a snap. The Fiat 500 Lounge is rated for 31 city/40 hwy MPG.
For a small car, Honda Fit Sport has a surprising amount of usable cargo space. The 60/40 split-folding second row seats have an under seat storage compartment, the rear hatch opens wide for oversized item. The Fiat 500 Lounge has a small trunk and 50/50 split-folding rear seats, limiting cargo size. At 139.6-inches in length, with a 90.6-inch wheel base, the Fiat 500 Lounge is shorter than the 161.6-inch long Honda Fit Sport, with its 98.4-inch wheelbase. The majority of that space difference translates into a useable rear seat.
16-inch alloy wheels move the Fit down the road, power assisted front disc/rear drum brakes with ABS and Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) bring Honda’s small car offering to a stop. Air conditioning, cruise control, power windows and door locks, a tilt and telescoping steering column, leather wrapped steering wheel with steering wheel mounted audio and cruise controls add a touch of class to the little Honda, the 160-Watt AM/FM/CD Audio System with six speakers help drowned out the exterior and engine noise. The Fit is a loud little car, wind noise is apparent at surface street speeds. Bluetooth only is offered on the Fit Sport with Navigation model.
Upscale features, including one year of satellite radio, BLUE&ME hands-free communication system with voice recognition, USB connected iPod capability, driver seat memory, automatic temperature control and an Alpine® Premium Audio System set the 2013 Fiat 500 Lounge apart. 7 airbags, hill-start assist, and electronic stability control are among the numerous safety enhancements. Add the available Beats™ Audio System with subwoofer for $700; the $1,700 Luxury Leather Package includes heated front seats, Rear Park Assist and auto-dimming rearview mirror.
The 2013 Honda Fit starts at $17,160 for models equipped with a manual transmission, the models with the 6-speed automatic transmissions have an MSRP of $18,010. The Fiat starts at $18,500 and goes up from there, a well-equipped 500 Lounge can go well into the mid $20,000 range. Both vehicles have their fans, if it is cute you seek, go with the Fiat. If you want the biggest bang for your buck, the Fit is your best choice.