Sunday, September 1, 2013

Drawing Board: Honda Fit Si

Image courtesy of The Torque Report
Writing the long term review for my fiancee's 2011 Honda Fit Sport got us thinking about the possibility of Honda producing an Si version of the Fit for the US market. As far as we currently know, Honda has no plans to develop an Si version of the Honda Fit for the United States market. The Si version of the Fit and Jazz that do exist in other markets is more or less similar to our US Market Fit Sport, but with a smaller engine and rear disc brakes. There are those that would argue that the Fit Sport is already good enough to be considered an Si model, with its sportier suspension tuning and Sport exclusive aero parts, but it seems to be missing some things to keep it from being truly considered an Si.

Image Courtesy of Honda Tuning Magazine
There is, of course, another route to take for those that want to inject more sport into their Fit: the
aftermarket. There is a fairly healthy offering of aftermarket parts available for the Honda Fit. Everything from power adders to suspension modifications are available through reputable aftermarket tuning companies. More intrepid Fit owners, and those with the financial backing, have considered swapping out the 1.5 liter L15A7 inline-4 for Honda's go to performance four-banger, the K20. At this time though, I do not know of any successful swaps with a current generation, US market Fit, though there are plenty of successful K20 swaps into the previous generation Fit.

Engine swaps, cold air intakes, and suspension tuning are all great, and can add a great deal of performance to a car, but what about those that want the car to perform better out of the factory? What are enthusiasts who would rather not void their warranty to do? This is why we feel there should be a true Si version of the Fit for the US market. We want to see a Fit that is capable of doing battle with Ford's new Fiesta ST. Here is what we think a proper Fit Si should have.

West Brother's Fit Si

Image courtesy of the Honda Motor Co.
The current generation Fit Sport is already quite sporty looking, so working off that look would be a great starting point for Honda. Besides Si exclusive badges, Honda should also consider Si exclusive wheels. The Fit Sport currently sports a set of 16" diameter wheels, which actually fit the car quite nicely, but could use an Si exclusive design. The optional 16" wheel sold through dealers would make a great standard wheel for an Si version of the Fit, along with wider tires. Standard all-season performance tires with an optional summer tire package in a 205mm or 215mm width would seem to be a good match with larger front brakes, rear disc brakes, improved suspension, and more powerful engine.

While the brakes the Fit Sport is currently equipped with are decent, I find the lack of stopping power to be a bother at times. This lack of stopping power can be attributed mainly to the small disc brakes in the front and the drum brakes at the rear. For an Si version of the Fit, I would like to see slightly larger front discs clamped on by two piston calipers. Unfortunately, since the Civic Si does not even have two piston calipers, I highly doubt an Si version of the Fit would get them. If anything, I can probably expect slightly larger discs with the same single piston calipers, and possibly some better brake pads. As for the rear, a vented disc with a single piston caliper set up would be great.

In my first long term review post of my fiancee's 2011 Fit Sport, I mention that there is quite a bit of body roll, due mainly to the car's height. Some thicker anti-roll bars to help reduce the amount of body roll could go a long way to improving the car's handling. Though the current Fit Sport's suspension is already quite sporty feeling, a slightly tighter spring rate, along with some harder shocks would go a long way to creating a Fit Si with an Si worthy suspension. Perhaps a slightly lower stance could help as well. Admittedly, the trade off with this sort of suspension will be a harder ride, but seeing as this is supposed to be an Si model, that is the sort of compromise one would expect with a performance model.

Image courtesy of Power-Enterprise
When I think Si, I think high revving, naturally aspirated engine. Unfortunately, Honda has been slowly moving away from this formula, as seen in the current generation Civic Si. The Civic Si's 2.4 liter engine would probably be an ill fit for the Fit (no pun intended) as well. The Earth Dreams 2.4 liter from the 2013 Accord would also never fit due to the extra equipment needed for the direct injection system. That leaves the 1.8 liter inline-4, the R18, found in the LX and EX model Civic. Unfortunately, that engine is not exactly suited
for performance applications and would still require some heavy modification in order for it to fit. The only solution for a proper Fit Si I can think of would be to increase displacement by 0.1 liters to for a total of 1.6 liters and go with forced induction. While you no longer get the high revving, naturally aspirated rush from the Si vehicles of yore, you should at least have an engine that will be competitive with the 1.6 liter, turbocharged four cylinder in the Fiesta ST. Supercharger manufacturer Rotrex currently has a supercharger kit available for the second generation Honda Fit. While the kit is currently only sold in Japan, it can at least give Honda something to study while coming up with their own forced induction solution.

Image courtesy of About.com
My fiancee's Fit Sport has the five-speed automatic transmission, but since we are talking about the possibility of an Si model, it would have to have a manual, and preferably with six speeds. A slick shifting six-speed manual like the one in the Civic Si would work probably work well with a 1.6 liter turbocharged or supercharged engine. The additional torque from the forced induction would probably require a limited slip differential to alleviate any unwanted torque steer. Would I consider an automatic though? As much as I dislike the idea of an Si with an automatic transmission, the lack of people with the ability to drive a manual transmission might make having an automatic a requirement if Honda expects to sell a reasonable number of these cars. Being the enthusiast I am though, I probably would not settle for anything less than a dual-clutch setup. Unfortunately, the only dual-clutch transmissions Honda has available at this time are for motorcycle applications, and for the upcoming eSH-AWD version of the Acura RLX and the new 2015 Acura NSX. Bummer.

Image courtesy of Auto Express
Finally, the interior needs the proper Si treatment as well. Currently, the Civic Si's interior is differentiated from its more pedestrian siblings with red colored stitching, red lighting for the gauges, and a faux carbon fiber trim around the dash. For a Fit Si, some more supportive seats along with the same treatment as the Civic Si seems more than adequate. The red stitching, carbon fiber trim, red gauges, and sportier seats would offer more than enough sporting feel to the car.

East Brother's Fit Si

The Fit is already a pretty decent handling car, having managed to break into the 70-mph club in some of its earlier slalom tests. As a result, my focus would be to give the Fit a serious dose of power, which is where it is most lacking. While Honda's global engine lines include a few options, the Fit has the issue of having one of the smaller engine bays in the business, so squeezing a larger K-series motor into it to give it some punch is likely out of the question. Instead, I think finding one of the more robust motors in the global line-up and stuffing more air into it via a turbocharger may be the way to go.

Image courtesy of Wheel O Mania
And while we are just throwing ideas out there, while perhaps not appropriate for an Si model, a turbo-diesel powered fit with around 250 lb-ft of torque and 200 hp would be an absolute hoot as a daily driver. It might not be suitable for an Si, but would certainly put the Fit into a whole different class as far as the small hatchback market. And of course, it goes without saying that a six speed manual option should available with whatever bigger motor option to offer that engaging driving experience.

The 2015 Honda Fit RS
Image Courtesy of Automobile Magazine
With an all new Honda Fit on the horizon, rumor has it that Honda is developing an all new performance version of the Fit dubbed the RS. Details are currently lacking about the RS's power and handling capabilities, but images have been leaked, showing a Fit that is sporty and aggressive. For the time being, it has been revealed that the US market might not get the RS version of the Fit. It would be a real shame if Honda did not bring the Fit RS to the United States market, even as an Si version. If Honda brought this car to the United States market, it could potentially be a huge hit!