After three years of speculation about the introduction of a Fit Hybrid, Honda is set to unveil the world’s first subcompact hybrid next month at the Paris Motor Show this September. Not only will the Fit Hybrid be the smallest hybrid on the market, it could carry the lowest price tag.
A hybrid version will go on sale in Japan in October, and is expected in the U.S. in 2011. As we reported earlier this month, Honda plans to sell the Fit Hybrid in Japan for about $18,600. That’s approximately $3,500 less than the Honda Insight, currently the cheapest hybrid, and about $4,600 more than the gas-powered Fit. Pricing for the Japanese market does not move in sync with U.S. pricing—but a similar strategy in the U.S. would put the base MSRP around $17,000.
Exact mpg will be released at the Paris Motor Show, which will run from September 30 to October 17, but we anticipate a significant step up from the gas-powered version, which is rated at 28 mpg in the city and 35 on the highway. The Fit Hybrid is likely to become the second most fuel-efficient hybrid, right behind the Toyota Prius (51/48 mpg). The auto industry is still figuring out how to rate the fuel economy of plug-in cars, such as the Nissan LEAF and Chevy Volt.
The new Fit/Jazz is updated for 2011—with revised headlights and rear lights, a new front grille, and restyled bumpers and tailgate. Inside, there’s a darker single-color dashboard and blue-lit dials and instruments. The new hybrid is also available with leather trim, the first time this has been available on a Jazz model in Europe.
Though the Fit’s outer shell takes up very little pavement, it yields an unusually large interior space. Total passenger volume is 90.1 cubic feet, which is just a hair short of the larger Honda Civic. It offers more head and legroom up front than competing subcompacts, such as the Nissan Versa and Toyota Yaris.
With so many low-volume luxury hybrids hitting the market in recent years, the introduction of a small affordable high-mpg gas-electric model from Honda is a welcome addition to the hybrid market.