Just three years after its debut in the US, Honda has delivered an updated version of the Honda Fit for 2009. Some analysts believe that it’s premature to bring out a new version of the subcompact five-door hatchback, but it’s here with a slightly sportier look inside and out—so we took it on a quick test drive through the curvy canyon roads north of Los Angeles.

Wrapped in completely new sheet metal, the new Fit is powered by a 1.5-liter inline four engine, yielding 117 horsepower and 106 pound-feet of torque. As with the previous model, the new Fit is not impressive in terms of power—often struggling to keep up with higher speed traffic. However, Honda revised the car’s final drive gear, resulting in stronger launches from the standstill position, as well as greater ability to climb steeper roadways and slopes.

What the Fit lacks in power, it makes up in handling. The new Fit feels more agile than ever. Steering is light, quick, and responsive. On sharp, switchback roads, the Fit maneuvered with ease and took corners with plenty of confidence. The Vehicle Stability System aptly reeled in the car at higher speeds. The Fit does, however, seem to lean a bit more on turn-ins than other vehicles its size, due primarily to smaller tires and a higher center of gravity.

Of course, fuel economy is one of the key selling points for the Honda Fit—along with an amazing amount of interior space for a subcompact. (In fact, for 2009, Honda breathed in more room by stretching the Fit’s wheelbase by 2 inches and moving the A-pillars forward about 5 inches.) Our time with the test car was limited, so we can’t report real-world mileage, but government fuel economy ratings for the 2009 Honda Fit with a 5-speed automatic transmission are 28 in the city and 35 on the highway. That’s a slight bump up from the previous Fit, which was rated 27 city/ 34 highway. The Honda Fit received an Ultra Low-Emission Vehicle (ULEV-2) rating from California regulators.

Based on our first drive, we believe the 2009 Honda Fit continues to be a very compelling option for shoppers seeking efficiency, practicality, and affordability. Pricing starts at $14,550, making it one of the best values in a high-mpg car.