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2012 Honda Fit Hybrid - Sneak Peak

hybrid-2012-honda-fit.jpgThe wait for the newest Honda hybrid just got shorter. The 2012 Honda Fit Hybrid will go on sale in Japan this month (October 2010), being sold as a 2011 model, and it will be available in Europe in early 2011. The car may also be introduced to other markets (like the U.S.) later next year.

The introduction of the Honda Fit Hybrid has been anticipated for nearly a year. The car expands Honda’s line of hybrids, which also includes the Honda Insight and the sporty Honda CR-Z.

The Fit is essentially a hybridization of the very popular gasoline-powered Honda Jazz. The Jazz name will be retained in the European market; the Fit name will be used in Japan.

While most automakers are looking to hybridize their mid-sized and larger cars to improve their fuel economy, The Motor Authority notes that the Fit is indicative of Honda’s work in the field. Specifically, Honda is “one of the few companies to focus its efforts on smaller cars.”

The Honda Fit Hybrid will borrow greatly from Honda’s existing hybrid fleet of cars. For example, it will use the same drivetrain as the 2010 Insight. That means it will have a 1.3-liter i-VTEC gasoline engine and an electric motor. The engine will provide 88 hp; the electric motor is rated at 13 hp. Fuel economy is expected to match that of the Insight, which is rated in Japan at 70 mpg. The EPA rating of 43 mpg highway/40 mpg city is probably a more realistic estimate for normal driving.

One telling sign about the new car is that Honda has priced the Fit Hybrid very aggressively. Reports state that it will sell in Japan for about $18,600, making it the country’s least-expensive hybrid.

To put the price into perspective, the 2012 Honda Fit Hybrid will cost less than the already low priced 2010 Honda Insight. Several articles have speculated that Honda will try to maintain the low pricing if the car is made available in the U.S.

2012-honda-fit-hybrid.jpgBesides price, another thing that will differentiate the Fit from the other Honda hybrids and from the gasoline-only Jazz is its looks. Car and Driver notes that the car will be the first European model Jazz available with leather seats. It will be available in an optional lime green metallic paint, which is unique to the hybrid version. The hybrid also has a different grill, headlights, and exterior décor to distinguish it from the gasoline-powered Jazz.

Several reviews of the Fit Hybrid noted that it gives a glimpse to the future, speculating that this is just the beginning for the low-priced end of the hybrid market. For example, earlier this year Car and Driver reported on Honda’s pledge to build what is being called a “FUN model” next year. This car will balance performance and cost. Specifically, it will be lower-performance in hp than the current line of hybrids, but at a significantly lower price (essentially competing with motorcycles).

View the 2012 Honda Fit Hybrid being test driven in Germany here.
The Motor Authority spy shots of the car being test driver can be found here.

By Jeff Carey

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