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Honda Fit, MINI Cooper, Hatchback
#97 of 143 Re: ... [nippononly]
May 06, 2006 (7:28 pm)
I haven't driven a mini, and I'm pretty sure I'll never get that chance. In fact, I driven very few cars which have been accused of having great handling. I have, however, driven my new fit and whether somebody considers "go-kart-like handling" to be a good thing or a bad thing, I'd say the fit has it. More on that below.
I'm not exactly sure why we're comparing the mini and the fit anyway. There may be cross shopping of the two, especially once the word gets out about the fit's handling or if Honda decides to go that direction with the trim. But, they're two different beasts. And, no, despite what some elitists are saying, they're not two different beasts in the sense that Walmart is different than Macy's. They're different in the sense that the mini can't compete with the fit in terms of practicality and the fit can't compete with the mini in terms of luxury niceties and established "coolness". The fact that they have some similar features and similar acceleration and handling is just a red herring to allow passionate people on both sides to keep the arguments alive. What's most telling about that, to me, is that there ARE people already who are passionate about the fit. That's not what you would expect if it was just a "minivan-like" "economobile". There are a few riled-up people in both camps and that's interesting, even if it's not enjoyable to read.
At any rate, you're taking a very level-headed approach. Whether you're truly considering both of these cars for purchase, I'm not sure, but just for the sake of answering things for yourself you're wanting to actually drive both. How unique!
The fit *is* making some news due to its handling. C&D made quite a deal about it, but it was contained only in the review of economy cars. I've read other reviews that rave about the spot-on steering and the lack of body roll. But, I guess short of actually driving both (which still will be subjective), I guess one thing we could do it look at the results of edmunds slalom testing:
The 2002 Mini Cooper ( http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/do/Drives/FullTests/articleId=61670 ) completed the edmunds 600-foot slalom course with an average speed of 67.4mph and the reviewers had these comments:
"Excellent stability provided by a compact, stout structure, short 97.1-inch wheelbase and a cube-like construction with wheels pushed as far out to the corners as they can go allowed the Mini to thread through the 600-foot slalom at 67.4 mph, a number comparable to performance-oriented vehicles like the Lexus IS 300. While nose-heavy front-wheel-drive cars usually don't encourage cretinous behavior on a serpentine road, the Mini (with its 63/37 front/rear weight distribution) allowed us to touch base with our inner simian selves. Besides, the excellent brakes and limited thrust kept us in check."
There's also the 2005 Mini Cooper convertible ( http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/do/Drives/FullTests/articleId=104624/pageId=62- - 525 ) which completed the slalom with an average speed of 66.6mph. The reviews said:
"We noticed some mild body roll in the slalom, but the car is very easy to control. The steering is quick and offers excellent feel, which is quite amazing considering it's electric. Both Dynamic Stability Control and Cornering Brake Control systems work very well, and the two systems can pull the car back in line with amazing finesse. Overall this is an excellent car to take through the slalom, especially considering it's a convertible."
The 2007 fit ( http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/do/Drives/FullTests/articleId=109810 ) finished the slalom with an average speed of 67.5 mph and the reviewers said this:
"The Fit drove like a champ, with quick steering and exquisite road feel. These impressions were confirmed on the track, where it slipped through the slalom in 6.1 seconds at 67.5 mph. The Fit felt stable and well balanced, and provided good feedback to the driver. It was about as much fun as you could have in a thrifty little car. Not only that, but the sporty handling didn't sacrifice comfort; it provided a pleasing, comfortable ride."
So, in short, I think the fit just might handle "THAT well". I would be surprised if, in the end, the fit handles as well as the mini (which is known for its handling), but I don't think the difference will be as great as some would think.
#98 of 143 Re: ... [plekto]
May 06, 2006 (7:43 pm)
The original Mini was essentially a go-kart. But I don't think, though, that the current one would lag behind much, if any.
#99 of 143 Re: ... [nippononly]
May 06, 2006 (7:49 pm)
I believe you. The Mini is the only street car I've driven (and no, I have not driven the exotics) where I can go full speed into a turn, and hang the car at the threshold of adhesion, with little or no body lean, and feel all 4 tires digging in, working the turn. And I will feel in complete control the whole time. Amazing! The Fit may be a fine handler in its class, and even put up good numbers, but I doubt it will offer that experience.
#100 of 143 Re: ... [nippononly]
May 06, 2006 (7:50 pm)
I haven't driven a Mini, so I am not going to make comments about how it handles. However, the steering on the Fit is excellent thanks to the very responsive electric steering system.
The Mini turns right at the instant you think you want to turn, practically before you even move the wheel with your hands.
To me that is what the Fit feels like...again, maybe the Mini is quicker still, but the Fit's steering is light, responsive and quick.
After driving the Fit for long periods of time and then taking our 2002 Civic coupé out for a spin, the traditional hydraulic steering on the Civic feels heavier and less responsive particularly at low speeds.
#102 of 143 Re: Moving target [plekto]
May 07, 2006 (8:09 am)
It really is in a different class than the Hyundais and crud like the Aveo and so on.
Why do you insist on bringing your Korean-car bashing into discussions that have nothing to do with them?
I agree the Fit is in a different class than the Hyundais, specifically the Accent that is a direct competitor for the Fit. That is, the Fit is in a lower class. You noted:
I'd gladly pay $1000 more for rear disc brakes, adjustable seat height, a map light, better carpets, more amenities, and so on.
You probably don't realize that you were describing the Accent pretty well--standard rear disc brakes, dual height adjustments on the driver's seat, map lights, better carpets, more amenities even on the base GLS model such as dual lighted vanity mirrors, front and rear center armrests, six-speaker MP3 stereo, an honest-to-gosh dead pedal, nice-looking wheel covers, locking fuel filler door, and readily available alloys (15" or 16" depending on model) and optional remote locking with alarm (and on the hatchback, available power moonroof). The funny thing is, you don't need to pay $1000 more for these amenities. Actually, you would pay about $800 less than the Fit base model, before any discount from the dealer. Meaning in the real world today the Accent will cost much less, with much more equipment including 15" alloys.
So can you try to stick to the topic at hand, Fit vs. MINI? There is another discussion for Fit vs. Accent if you want to talk more about how the Fit is in a different class than Hyundai.
May 07, 2006 (9:09 am)
Oh dear. I said "Hyundai" and this other guy blew up again. Either I mention "Mini" and othe guy blows up or the other does a knee-jerk reaction about Korean cars.
You'll note that most of the time, I also include the Yaris.
Here's a full list of cars that I have personally test-
driven that handle worse than the Fit:
BTW - Daewoo does build crud.
Neon/the new replacement for it
Anything by Buick
I'm sure I forgot a bunch as well. The Fit gives me the same driving experience and immediate feedback that a Subaru, a Corolla SE-R, a Mini,a Tc, Golf, or a Focus gave me. It didn't drive like a tin can. It didn't rattle going over potholes and railroad tracks as much. The rear end didn't feel like it was flapping around/along for the ride like the Yaris and Aveo, either.
Going around an outward-sloping turn and hitting uneven pavement(road construction plates they put down) - the Fit was tight. The Yaris - bounced. (the older Tercel also did this) The Aveo was beyond dreadful - even worse. The Aveo reminded me of the Kia/Ford Festiva or a Suzuki/Geo Metro.
On smooth road, all were fine - the problem was what happened when the conditions went from yuppie neighborhood to normal Los Angeles streets. Add in some potholes, cracking pavement, patches, roadwork, and so on - and the others start loosing points.
In an 18-25K car, you expect good handling. In a 14K car, that's often a rarity. OTOH... That a car like the base Golf can come in at or near the same price and offer good handling, as does the Focus and a few others - it's clearly a matter of priorities. I'll take better handling and driving characteristics every day over bling and amenities if I have to choose between the two.
#104 of 143 Re: Bwuh? [plekto]
May 07, 2006 (9:34 am)
If somebody blows up here because you mention "Mini", that is their problem because this discussion is all about the Fit vs. the Mini. If you can't keep on subject, and feel the need to take digs at Hyundais et. al. when they aren't anywhere close to the topic, that is your problem.
#105 of 143 Re: Bwuh? [plekto]
May 07, 2006 (9:38 am)
I'll take better handling and driving characteristics every day over bling and amenities if I have to choose between the two.
Why do you have to choose? The upcoming Hyundai Accent SE 3-door will offer the best of both worlds. From Hyundai's press release:
"Accent was tuned to satisfy unique consumer needs. The GLS four-door was tuned for comfort, but still feels agile. The GS three-door has a unique steering rack with increased sporty feel. The SE trim delivers even more road-holding capability with a sport-tuned suspension featuring 24 percent stiffer front spring rate and 11 percent stiffer rear spring rate, larger stabilizer bar (24 mm.), unique strut valving, high performance steering gear and larger wheels and tires. Accent SE delivers a 70 percent increase in roll control over the GLS, even exceeding the roll stiffness of the Hyundai Tiburon SE. To complete the performance package, Accent SE has powerful four-wheel disc brakes with a four-sensor, four-channel Antilock Brake System (ABS). Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD) is integrated into the ABS, automatically adjusting braking force front to rear based on vehicle loading conditions."
Now add in the available amenities that will be offered in the SE. Things like a power moonroof, maplights, in-dash 6-CD changer, plus over 35 accessories that can be bought to personalize the Accent to your liking. All at a price that will likely undercut the Fit. Seems to me the Accent SE may give Honda a few fits.
As far as the MINI, my father owns a Cooper S and that is a truly fun car to drive. If the Fit can actually match the handling characteristics of the Cooper, then kudos to Honda!