Last post on Feb 07, 2013 at 10:28 PM
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Nissan Versa, Toyota Yaris, Honda Fit, smart fortwo, MINI Cooper
#6726 of 9838 Re: Nothing "Wrong" Subcompacts Are Fun To Drive. [ttai]
Jan 02, 2008 (10:40 am)
Regarding the American media raving over the Fit and all but ignoring the Yaris, first one must understand the publishing business and the influence of the advertisers. Toyota does a lot of advertising but does not "expect" anything in return other than seeing their ad. Honda on the other hand rides on the edge of unethical, passing favors to the editors and road testers. I know this as I have friends at the top level of that business. Honda also leans on it's dealers to push certain models, to the point of holding out on shipping them the current "hot model" so as to motivate them to sell what Honda wants them to sell. So I'm not trashing Honda, just sharing what I know. Especially since I like both Honda and Toyota products.
That said, what's important is what "we think" about the various models and vote with our wallets. Here is my take. And from the perspective of being (with all due modesty) very experienced, as I am not only and ex racer of 30 years, but an enthusiast that buys several new cars a year, I would offer the following.
A bit of background, I currently own the following cars in this general category:
1) 2007 Honda Civic Coupe Si.
2) 2006 Mini Cooper S hatchback
3) 2008 Yaris S hatchback
After doing a lot of research, then going out to the dealers and road testing several Fit's and Yaris's over a period of a month, I found the Yaris has the features that fit my requirements the best. What were my requirements? Sporty looking. Two doors a must. Good ergonomic seating position, with good leg room as I'm 6'3". The right "balance of handling, acceleration, and braking.
It also must be noted that I have set my expectations according to the reality, and characteristics of each car. I.E. These are not true "Sports Performance Cars" , but rather a pair of cars that are designed to appeal to a very broad customer base, and mostly be inexpensive. The "Fun Factor" is a bit higher on Honda's priority list than on Toyota's. This is revealed in the massive growth of Toyota over the last decade and their world class success as a manufacturer. Many people have no idea just how large Toyota is and how well the company is run. Honda is much smaller, also well run but broken up into several divisions. Power Products, which sell boat motors, generators, lawn mowers, etc. Honda Aviation which sells the new Honda Jet, Honda Motor Sports, which sell the ATV's quads, and motorcycles.
Back to my thoughts and experience comparing the Fit with the Yaris.
While I enjoyed the fun of driving a Fit, there were many things that I did not like (and many features I did like), that again, is nothing more than personal opinion and what I wanted in the car I would be choosing. I did not like the "station wagon look" of the four door body style and I have no use for four doors, nor the extra length. Conversely many people do have requirements for four doors, thus I can see the appeal and the sales numbers support the fact nearly any model if offered in a sedan or wagon form factor, will sell a much higher number of vehicles.
The second thing I did not like about the fit which one will only discover if you do a back to back road test, or tests, as I did, is the power band of the Honda engine is at a higher rpm range than the Toyota. For me this was not a surprise as I have raced Honda road race motorcycles and am very familiar with how Honda builds their engines. An example of that is my 07 Honda Si Coupe, a car which has very little torque and power until you exceed 5,000 rpm after which it comes into the power band and rockets off. Fun to drive on the track or back roads but just average as a daily driver in traffic, or when constantly accelerating from 0 to 40 as we do in city driving. Compare that to my Mini Cooper S which has all the torque delivered beginning at 1600 rpm. This car is a rocket from the moment you press the accelerator. It's more fun to drive in town than my 911 Turbo Porsche. Again in the "in town" type of regular driving. As far as the Fit vs Yaris, the Yaris has better "off idle" response, more torque at a lower rpm and provides a snappier feeling of acceleration off a stop while accelerating to 40 mph as compared to the Fit which is rather soft and slow under the same conditions. A small point to some, but a big point to me, as I like to have a car that feels lively at less that full throttle, when being driven in town.
Another benefit of the Yaris for me, is that you sit higher up in the vehicle which is nice for visibility in town. Especially since I already have the Mini and the Si, both of which are low slung and sit lower, thus feeling a bit sportier in that regard. Moving on to steering I find there is far too much critical banter going on and on about how superior Honda steering is. I will be the first to agree there is a difference and the Honda is the best, but the difference is so minuscule that only people like me and the road testers would notice the difference, and like I mentioned in the beginning of my post, I'm taking everything into consideration and each cars unique characteristics. I can assure you that the steering on the Yaris is very good and certainly much better than a lot of other cars in the segment. Plus again, we are not racing here, we are buying economy cars that are being offered at prices which prevent them from having everything we might wish to have. In fact, setting price aside, that could be said for any comparison. All cars are a compromise of choices, features and benefits.
So in my experience, these are both very good cars which quite frankly are excellent deals when purchase price is focused on. I purchased the Yaris because I found it to be the most fun to drive around town under normal conditions (not racing around) and to be more relaxed and less frenetic than the Honda which required a lot more throttle to keep up with traffic. The Yaris has very good acceleration from a dead stop, thus is more fun to drive.
At the end of the day I would encourage all of you to take your time and do at least one or more back to back test drives. This way you will find the car that is the best for you. Neither of these cars are losers. They are each the "best", it's simply up to you to find which one fits your needs accordingly.
#6727 of 9838 Re: Nothing "Wrong" Subcompacts Are Fun To Drive. [podred]
Jan 02, 2008 (10:52 am)
The "Fun Factor" is a bit higher on Honda's priority list than on Toyota's.
That's the understatement of the year. Toyotas are typically as exciting to drive as dishwashers. Any Toyota I've ever driven (Two Lexus vehicles, a Corolla and Camry) has had zero steering feel. Great for grandma, but not for me - I felt too disconnected and had too little control. It's no driver's car, and certainly not fun.
Until you can post some proof about Honda's unethical practices, I'll be ignoring statements regarding that. It's just heresay and I've never seen proof of it, not that it matters (I bought what I liked, not what I was told to like ).
I can't help but wonder - if you indeed have all of the cars you state - why? Vehicles like the Yaris are pretty pointless when you have two other inexpensive sporty cars - one with a hatch, one in coupe form.
Jan 02, 2008 (11:15 am)
yes, I am also curious - how come you have three such similar vehicles? I can actually see having a Yaris and one of the other two, given the contrast in ride comfort and height, etc. I guess mainly it seems a little redundant to have a Civic SI AND a Cooper S. Do tell - are they very different drives besides the torque curves?
As for Fit v Yaris, I hear you on the very broad torque peak of the Toyota 1.5. The Fit is an old model at this point, STILL not outfitted with i-VTEC. I expect the next Fit, due in the States late this year, to have it, and to have a much flatter torque curve as a result.
#6729 of 9838 Re: Nothing "Wrong" Subcompacts Are Fun To Drive. [podred]
Jan 02, 2008 (11:19 am)
I think you make an interesting point and one that might be at the dividing point of this forum. The needs of the consumer when it comes to a small car. I live in the mountains and do very little city driving. If I drive off of the mountain I am going somewhere that requires some freeway time. For me a city car isn't as ideal as it might be for you.
But I will confess the mini-mini van look of the Fit isn't my favorite. I do like the Mazda3 Hatch however.
#6730 of 9838 Re: Nothing "Wrong" Subcompacts Are Fun To Drive. [thegraduate]
Jan 02, 2008 (11:20 am)
That's the understatement of the year. Toyotas are typically as exciting to drive as dishwashers. Any Toyota I've ever driven (Two Lexus vehicles, a Corolla and Camry) has had zero steering feel.
But that's partially the Toyota products you're driving. I'm not saying that Toyota builds wildly sporty cars, but the competition in the market of most Lexus models, the Corolla, and the Camry aren't very sporting either.
Models like the Lexus IS and Toyota MR2 are much more sporty (and sporty-feeling) than the more mainstream models you've mentioned.
#6731 of 9838 Re: Nothing "Wrong" Subcompacts Are Fun To Drive. [hudsonthedog]
Jan 02, 2008 (11:28 am)
3,000 rpm at 60mph is pretty standard for four-cylinder cars.
That seems a bit high to me. The 2000 Accent 5-speed manual does about 2700 rpm at 60 mph, though the newer Hyundai (and Kia) manuals are geared quite a bit shorter these days so those probably do pull 3000+.
#6732 of 9838 Re: Nothing "Wrong" Subcompacts Are Fun To Drive. [nippononly]
Jan 02, 2008 (11:32 am)
I applaud Yaris for still being the American non-hybrid model with the highest fuel economy available
For the next month or three, anyway. The first of the fortwo's have already landed at Baltimore.
#6733 of 9838 Re: Nothing "Wrong" Subcompacts Are Fun To Drive. [bumpy]
Jan 02, 2008 (11:48 am)
Good point bumpy!
The only 4-cylinder cars I have ever had that revved to 3000 rpm at 60- were the sport models - an '02 Celica and a couple of older Honda SI models.
I have had quite a number of more economy-minded 4-cylinder cars as well, which with the advent of 5 forward speeds around 1980 would run around 2400-2600 rpm at 60 mph. This includes both of my current cars.
I would STILL like to see 6 speeds in these cars, including a tall overdrive that runs about 2000 rpm at 60-65 mph. So they would haev to shift to accelerate - that's the point of having a multi-speed transmission! And then I think these models would get better highway gas mileage than they now do.
#6734 of 9838 Re: Nothing "Wrong" Subcompacts Are Fun To Drive. [bumpy]
by Mr_Shiftright HOST
Jan 02, 2008 (12:02 pm)
I don't think the fortwo is going to beat the Yaris on mpg in the real world. Research seems to indicate it's neck and neck at best. And in terms of utility, power, price, dealer network and resale, I don't think Yaris has to worry.
#6735 of 9838 Re: Nothing "Wrong" Subcompacts Are Fun To Drive. [nippononly]
Jan 02, 2008 (12:05 pm)
I don't think we'll see 6-speed manuals in non-sporty compacts and subs. The typical nonenthusiast American wouldn't want to deal with the pull rings and plunger shifters to get into reverse, and would balk at having to downshift to accelerate quickly. Six-speed auto could be a possibility, but at that point CVTs become more economical for the manufacturers.
Europeans get by with 5-speeds in those cars because they have diesel options with enough torque to accelerate even with the tall overdrive and final gears.