Although our first taste of the 2013 Fit EV came during a pre-production drive last December in Japan, Honda still had something new up its sleeve when it was unveiled prior to becoming available recently for lease in California and Oregon. For its North American launch Honda added a multi-mode switch which allows owners to tailor electricity output in “Economy,” “Normal” and “Sport” modes much like in the CR-V hybrid sport coupe. With this new addition we were quickly reminded of how much we actually enjoy driving this unexpectedly sporty all-electric hatchback as it allowed us to stay green while indulging our own hooligan-like driving style.
In “Sport” mode the Fit EV is given the ability to chirp the front tires in a low RPM fit of torque which stems from the powerful 92 kw electric motor that works in tandem with a 20 kw lithium ion battery pack. On the fun to drive front we definitely applaud Honda’s continued use of a multi-link rear suspension as it well and truly helped maintain the Fit’s playful driving demeanor. It really is just as much fun to drive as the gasoline powered version, if not more so thanks to the electric versions superior power output.
For those of you out there who still haven’t wrapped their heads around the new power numbers used by electric and hybrid cars, the 2013 Honda Fit EV puts out an equivalent 123 horsepower/188 lb. feet of torque. Yes, you read that meaty torque figure right and it does mean that the electric Fit is endowed with all that accelerative force pretty much instantly as is the case in most electrics.
We are quite happy to report to driving enthusiasts that it is possible to start giggling like a schoolgirl who just met Justin Bieber when driving the 2013 Fit EV. Sure, its range is about 80 miles realistically but at the very least it offers and exciting counterpart to the 2012 Nissan LEAF which we tested as a comparison to the newly launch Fit EV. So move over Leaf, there’s a new green king in town.
The 2012 Nissan Leaf Driven
Now, oddly enough, right after testing the fun to drive 2013 Honda Fit EV we found a Nissan Leaf left on our doorstep much like an orphaned baby in a basket from a fairy tale. At the very least, one drive in the Leaf was about as pleasant an experience as being the aforementioned baby left on a doorstep. Sure, the Leaf shouts to everyone that you care about the environment but its cornering abilities, steering feel, braking capability and power delivery were all found to be decidedly sub-par when compared to the Fit EV. And this is even without putting that Honda electric into any special “Sport” mode.
We were also struck by the interior design of the Leaf which was so unimaginative that we were reminded of those old Casio plastic calculator watches that only dweebs wore in the 1980’s. Apologies to any dweebs out there as even you no doubt have more stylistic sense than the interior of this Nissan. The exterior of the Leaf was also something we despised what with its syrupy light blue exterior paint making this vehicle look all the more like an overgrown robin’s egg.
To add insult to injury, the Leaf is also capable of traveling fewer miles than the Fit EV per charge and Nissan wants $38,720 before rebates for the privilege of buying one of these admittedly well-equipped electric hatchbacks. We did at least appreciate that the Leaf came with some unexpected features like a heated steering wheel, heated front and rear seats, in-dash navigation, 16-inch alloys and some truly gross looking seat upholstery whose only excuse was that it was apparently made from recycled materials.
Honda Specs, Pricing and Features
The 2013 Honda Fit EV scored a coup by scoring a 118 mile per gallon combined equivalency from the EPA in comparison to the Nissan’s 99 mile per gallon equivalency. Yes, Nissan not only made the Leaf tedious to drive but it will also gobble up more of your electricity making it pretty clear that it’s only true advantage lies in it being uniquely styled so as to make a “green statement” about its owner. We think that this is a rather shallow reason to buy any car.
Continuing on the affordability front, Honda is taking a different approach to pricing by offering a $389 introductory lease for three years to those interested in Fit EV ownership. They are also throwing in free auto insurance to sweeten the deal.
The 2013 Honda Fit EV comes standard with automatic climate control, an-in dash navigation system, split folding rear seats that open up to an only mildly compromised cargo hold that can swallow 49.2 cubic feet of stuff as well as “Bio-Fabric” on the seats that feels durable in a way that the Nissan’s tissue paper thin seat covers could only dream about. Quite frankly the only thing we could imagine the Leaf’s seat fabric being made of is old Big Mac wrappers as they not only feel cheap but also oddly greasy.
So while the 2013 Honda Fit EV might now only be available to people on the West Coast, there are plans to expand the availability of this all-electric hatchback to more markets starting next spring. Now, we are quite sure that no all-electric car has all of the answers to our environmental worries on planet Earth but anyone out there who is still worried green motoring means the end to all driving fun should test drive the 2013 Honda Fit EV. As for the Nissan, we say you should just “Leaf” it alone.
What We Loved About the 2013 Honda Fit EV
- The fact that it is Quick and Sporty Feeling to Drive just like any Honda
- The All-New Multi-Mode Switch with “Power Buttton”
- That it doesn’t make a Loud or Obnoxious “Green” Statement
What We Loathed About the 2013 Honda Fit EV
- That it’s currently only Available in Oregon and California
- The Small Cruising Range Relative to Non-Electric Vehicles
- Finding a Place to Plug Your Vehicle In for Recharge if You Don’t Own a Home