By on November 21, 2014

Honda Fit EXLAmerican Honda reported the Fit’s best October ever last month. At 6851 U.S. sales, Fit volume was up 83% year-over-year to the highest total since April 2011, when Fit sales shot up 73% to 8116.

The new Fit, the third version of Honda’s sub-Civic car for North America has certainly been well-received early on in its tenure. With Honda sales rising to the highest October level ever and a new Mexican-built version of the brand’s least costly car finally readily available, seeing the Fit rise to new heights was not an unexpected occurrence.

It’s no E-Type on the outside, but the Fit’s purposeful design pays dividends inside for owners and even passengers. It is in some ways a mini-MPV with a very monobox shape. It’s not conventional, but its flexibility makes it strangely desirable as a result. Honda’s share of the subcompact category grew to 17.8% in October 2014, up from 10.8% a year ago and 10.6% in calendar year 2013 as a whole. It’s worth noting, as well, that the Fit is available only as a hatchback, while the four other members of the subcompact category’s October top five are sold as hatchbacks and sedans.

It’s also worth noting that the category continues to be controlled in large part by the cheap-and-roomy Nissan Versa, sales of which improved 29% in October 2014 to 11,097 units, 28.8% of the segment’s total.

With a higher price tag and fewer build options, it’s hard to see the Fit unseating the Versa any time soon, even on a semi-long-term basis.

Added competition may pose the greater danger to the Fit over the next few years, however. And we don’t mean competition from more subcompact hatchbacks. While Nissan Canada has seen Versa sales tumble 43% over the last three months as the Micra slotted in below and stole sales (and added many more), Honda will challenge their own Fit and Civic with the new HR-V, set to be displayed in detail at the Los Angeles auto show this week.

It’s a long-running theme. America’s new vehicle market is expanding at a 5.5% clip in 2014, and while subcompact sales shot up 11.5% in the month of October, specifically, subcompact volume is up just 3.4% this year. That outpaces the overall passenger car market, which is up just 1.2%. But combined sales of the Buick Encore, Mini Countryman and Paceman, Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, Nissan Juke, and Subaru XV Crosstrek are up 28.2% to a combined 181,370 units. Sure, as a group they’re not as popular as subcompact cars – they’re certainly more costly, too. Yet their growth does represent a real turning of the tide.

Nissan Versa NoteBack in the here and now, Detroit subcompacts, in the form of the Chevrolet Sonic and Ford Fiesta, have earned 31% market share in 2014. Sales of the Hyundai Accent rose 34% to 4839 in October and are up 5% this year; Kia Rio volume was down 12% both in October and through the first ten months. Combined Prius C/Yaris sales are down 19% in Toyota showrooms in 2014. Mazda 2 sales have increased 34% in advance of the next 2’s arrival, but October volume plunged 38% to just 457 units.

Meanwhile, America’s four top-selling compacts – Corolla, Civic, Cruze, Focus – combine to outsell the whole subcompact category by more than two-to-one.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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39 Comments on “Versa Still Rules Roost As Fit Sales Reach 42-Month High In October...”


  • avatar
    petezeiss

    The Fit’s 2015 redesign saddens me. It’s no longer as mono-spacy and unique as before. More depressingly ordinary sleekness and a baby-step toward aggressive styling.

    The rot has set into a landmark design. They shoulda just lifted the 2013 four inches while retaining its less slopey ass. Then they wouldn’t have needed the Wezel.

    Now it’s just the Civic Wagon, not an MPV.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      How dare you sully the illustrious name of the Civic Wagon with this rising-beltline monstrosity! My 1990 Civic Wagon had much better visibility and a larger cargo area than even my father’s first gen Fit, which in turn puts the current car to shame in terms of greenhouse area and cargo capacity.

      I was excited for this car’s arrival when I heard the transmission picked up another gear and there was more power. Well, they didn’t change the top cog’s ratio so it still wails away at 3500rpm at 70 mph… what’s the point?

      • 0 avatar
        frozenman

        The point is it’s still better than a Versa?

        • 0 avatar

          Having reviewed both, a Versa hatch here and the new Fit at Hooniverse, I prefer the Versa.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            You should include that as a disclaimer with all of your other car reviews.

          • 0 avatar
            petezeiss

            “You should include that as a disclaimer with all of your other car reviews.”

            Hooo…whee!

            And you didn’t even point to the bleachers first.

          • 0 avatar
            wstarvingteacher

            @KK: Wish there was a place provided to like your comment.

            If the wife hadn’t just had to have her cube I expect we would be driving a versa. Second cube and nothing but rubber and oil to this point. 33-35 mpg freeway driving. Nissan makes some pretty good cars whether they are the most popular or not.

      • 0 avatar
        petezeiss

        *urk* I had an ’84 Civic wagon. Dishonoring it by association with this DID choke me up as I typed that.

        But that front end now looks pure Civic and the back end looks like a (modern) wagon, so…

      • 0 avatar
        linard76

        Iit just takes a bit of research instead of relying on flawed memories to find out that the newest 2015 Fit is a marvel of packaging efficiency while being much safer and more comfortable than the 2007 Fit, let alone the 1990 Civic.

        Fit Interior Dimensions .
        2007 Fit versus 2015 Fit
        Headroom (F/R, in.) 40.6/38.6 versus 39.5/37.5
        Legroom (F/R, in.) 41.9/33.7 versus 41.4/39.3
        Shoulder room (F/R, in.) 52.8/50.6 versus 54.8/52.6
        Hip room (F/R, in.) 51.2/51.0 versus 51.5/45.1
        Passenger volume (cu. ft.) 90.1 versus 95.7
        Cargo volume (Std./Max, cu. ft.) 21.3/41.9 versus 16.6/52.7
        Length (inches) 157.4 versus 160
        Weight (pounds) 2432 versus 2513

        Just FYI, the 1990 Civic basically matches the 2007 Fits cargo capacity in a form that was slightly bigger at 161.7 inches long and 2335 pounds.

        Again, it’s just research.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          Have a gander:

          http://www.fitfreak.net/forums/general-fit-talk/63998-fit-civic-wagon-same-car-different-generations-pics.html

          So the Civic Wagon is the exact same footprint for all intents and purposes, and had 21.5 cu ft with the seats up, and 60 with seats down (according to the link below)

          The new 2015 Fit has about 25% less cargo space with the seat up, which is a rather important specification. I think they screwed up by focusing on some insane amount of rear legroom to the detriment of cargo capacity.

          Don’t get me started on comfort, the Fits have hands down some of the worst seats in terms of support that I’ve ever sat in. Seat cushion is too short, accelerator pedal is suspended up at an awkward angle and has too light of a spring. On our non-cruise control 2007, anything over 40 minutes on the highway holding a steady speed was very uncomfortable at my 5’11,” I added an extra spring to the pedal to have more resistance.

          Lastly, check out that low belt line on the Civic, isn’t that lovely? The 07 Fit has significantly worse visibility, the ’15 is yet another step (leap?) in the wrong direction

          Ah the good old days:

          http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1129&dat=19880813&id=bq5RAAAAIBAJ&sjid=3G0DAAAAIBAJ&pg=6815,3827010

          It’s just research!

      • 0 avatar
        linard76

        Gtemnykh,

        I think there are some rose colored glasses going on as you made points about the Fit which aren’t accurate.

        The 16.6 cubic feet of cargo with rear seats up is based on the seats in their rear most position. The seats themselves move fore/aft 4 inches which is significant. To maintain that much overall cargo and passenger room in a car that’s actually smaller than a car from the 1990s with a modern safety structure is remarkable and Honda deserves credit.

        I’ve driven the 90’s Civics and owned a 1991 Acura Integra GS sedan for 8 years and as much as I enjoyed that car, the new Fits are much more comfortable, faster, better performing, safer, quieter and on and on. Cars have moved on even if memories haven’t.

    • 0 avatar
      superchan7

      I understand you don’t like the slightly ho-hum styling, but if the interior space is improved, what’s wrong with being a Civic wagon?

      • 0 avatar
        petezeiss

        It’s not ho-hum, it’s slavishly capitulating to a styling norm that is less efficient (for cab-forward sight lines), unique and conceptually progressive than the original. I wants my monospace fix!

        And like all wagons it’s not tall enough.

  • avatar
    thornmark

    It would be interesting to note the Versa’s fleet sales. I suspect that next to fleet only models, the Versa is among the most fleet-heavy.

    I suspect that w/in the year the Fit will lead the segment in non-fleet sales.

    FWIW, Automobile Mag just named the new Fit as one of its 2015 all-stars.
    http://www.automobilemag.com/features/awards/1501-honda-fit-2015-automobile-all-star/

  • avatar
    petezeiss

    As sub-20K cars these are purchased mainly by the f*cked (Versa) and the frugal (Fit). I think the f*cked will grow in numbers to vastly swamp the frugal so the Versa is the more significant car.

    • 0 avatar
      thornmark

      The Versa is significant as cheap.

      The Fit, like most Hondas, may be initially more dear, but in the long run it will be the better buy and therefore take first in the non-fleet market.

  • avatar
    kcflyer

    I like both of these cars. Would have been happy with either if I didn’t insist on a manual transmission. Bought the 2015 Fit. The base versa is a screaming deal and the cheapskate in me was tempted. But the manual windows and doors were a non starter with the spousal unit and no cruise control is not gonna fly with me. The base Fit offers a better package IMO. Take the manual trans requirement out of the mix and a decently equipped Versa is compelling as a versatile commuter. And yes, the 6th gear in the Fit is purely a marketing scheme. In fact, 4 gears would probably do the trick just fine.

  • avatar
    Occam

    I can’t speak for the latest generation of Fit – I haven’t driven, or even sat inside of one… But the last one was a huge disappointment to me.

    The steering felt nice, and the cargo-maximizing tricks are very cool. Also, it’ll likely be Honda bulletproof. My mother owns a 2010, and I’ve driven it on several short (6 hours total) road trips. For all the rear space tricks, the space in the front is terrible. Limited foot sapce, awkward (non adjustable) seat height and angle, no real door armrest, center armrest isn’t adjustable, and the front seat is artificially limited on rearward travel (there is a TON of space left to slide back another 2-3 inches). The worst is the seats themselves – soft foam, stretched too thin over the metal frame, with awful pressure points. No thank you.

    My wife drives a 2007 Versa hatchback that she long ago paid off and intends to drive until it dies. It’s not exciting to drive – it’s philosophy could best be summed up as “tiny Camry.” But, it feels like a real car inside. Detailing is great, padded door armrests, padded console center armrest, soft touch materials everywhere, supportive seats. It doesn’t feel like a tiny cheap car – it feels like they’ve somehow stuffed a midsize car’s interior (particularly the cavernous back seat) into a small hatchback. We took it on a 2500 mile road trip this summer: 2 adults, 2 tweens, and lots of luggage, and it was thoroughly uninspiring, but not offensive in any way. I’d have doused the Fit in gasoline and lit it on fire by the 1000 mile mark.

    The Versa Note is a step in an awful direction. Rather than continuing to rebadge the Tiida as the Versa, they began using the Nissan Note, a smaller, chintzier car. The 1.8L engine was eliminated, and only the 1.6 remains. It’s a real shame, but I bet the Versa was stepping on the Sentra.

    • 0 avatar
      petezeiss

      “Rather than continuing to rebadge the Tiida as the Versa”

      Aha! So that’s the older and larger “Versa S” I’ve seen around here and much prefer to the Note. However googling images of the 2015 Tilda I notice that it, too, has succumbed to the pandemic of raising the rear beltline over swollen hips.

      I really don’t want a car that looks like Rosie O’Donnell lying on her stomach.

      • 0 avatar
        dash riprock

        I really don’t want a car that looks like Rosie O’Donnell lying on her stomach.

        you should be banned for making me picture that.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        Yes the original Versas were an excellent proposition: french styling and interior accommodations available at a very reasonable cost (platform shared with the Renault Megane as I recall). It was quite a bit heavier than something like a Fit, so coupled with the 122hp 1.8L it was a bit thirstier and not quite as peppy. Also, the rear seat didn’t fold flat and the cargo hold was significantly smaller both seats up and seats down. But in hindsight I think the penalty was worth it to have seats actually designed for European/North American sized people and a more solid ride.

        • 0 avatar
          petezeiss

          All other things satisfactory, I’d happily give up a little FE and peppiness for a heavier, better bump-absorbing car.

          As long as the engine & tranny could deliver the occasionally needed panic surge for on-ramp merging, I’d never otherwise ask for peppiness.

        • 0 avatar
          Occam

          18 cubic feet of cargo space vs. 21 in the Fit (both the 07 and 09 generation). 95 cubic feet of interior space vs 90/91 in the Fit for the ’07/’09 generations.

          Max cargo volume in the Versa (Tiida) hatch is 50 cubic feet with the seats folded down. It was 42 in the first Fit, 57 in the second generation.
          The seats don’t flatten on the floor like in the Fit – the gas tank is under the rear seat.

          If you look at auto magazine comparisons, the car with the best steering feel wins, every time. People in the real world (i.e. the non-enthusiasts) don’t care. People complain about the Fit because of its “twitchy steering.” The Versa’s proposition is, “Do you want a small car that still feels like a real car?” Having a $12K loss-leader to get people in the doors can’t hurt either!

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Well I’ll be, I could have sworn the Fit had it beat in seat down capacity, I guess just looking at it with the rear seat not folded flat fooled my eyes.

            What sort of mpg does your versa get around town? When we were shopping the forums were abuzz with people that were less than happy with the 1.8L, even with a stick shift.

          • 0 avatar
            Occam

            It IS better on the ’09-’14 Fit.

            I rarely drive it – it’s my wife’s car, and the only time I’ve ever checked the mileage was on the highway. It wasn’t that great: around 33 or so.

            My wife’s Versa is a CVT. The CVT is a strange beast – floor it, and it feels powerful for the first second as it quickly revs up to max HP. The strange shifting tone of the engine in normal acceleration can be a bit disconcerting at first, but once you’re used to it, it’s fine. At highway speeds, the overdrive is so tall that you don’t hear the engine.

            You never get the odd jerks of an unexpected downshift or upshift, so given the choice between a conventional automatic and a CVT, I’d take the CVT every time. If I can’t drive a real stick, there’s no point in multiple cogs. Automatics are getting silly now in the race for more gears for mileage – 9 now? In 3-4 years, 10, 11, 12 speed automatics? How many shifts do you need? Just make it a smooth transition and be done with it.

            My strange dream is a three-pedal manual CVT. The shift lever would slide from the shortest to tallest ratios like boat throttle! Another fun one would be user-selectable ratios for the video-game flappy paddles.

          • 0 avatar
            shaker

            Occam: “My strange dream is a three-pedal manual CVT. The shift lever would slide from the shortest to tallest ratios like boat throttle!”

            Holy crap – that would make sense to a helicopter pilot (as it would be equivalent to “collective pitch”) but I wouldn’t loan the car to Granny!

          • 0 avatar
            petezeiss

            Motorboat! Sliding throttle! Flappy paddles!

            I love this site!

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    I believe it the lack of sufficient Fit stock which allows dealers to charge full price vs the Versa having more wriggle room for discounts that makes the difference here.

    • 0 avatar
      petezeiss

      Yep, I think the production lag to re-weld that frame member after the offset crash tests drained down the supply enough to create a pool of pent-up Fitaholics who gladly pay full boat.

      If the car were a tad larger and significantly taller, I’d have probably been one.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    That Mexico plant is making a lot of difference. Until now buying a Fit was an exercise in frustration. Dealers didn’t have stock, would make you accept whatever configuration they happened to have coming in in 2 months, and charged full price.

  • avatar
    kcflyer

    We had to dealer trade to get an LX manual. Local dealers had EX only. Only three hundred difference between MSRP and invoice. We got ours at invoice minus $100 USAA discount and $500 military discount for financing through Honda at 1.9%. With $1200 sales tax the total was roughly $16,700. Could probably do better in a few months but I’m satisfied. Got the exact model and second choice of color. Honda won’t make the LX in purple for some reason.

  • avatar
    motorrad

    I loved my 2008 Fit but was disappointed by the MPG. For such a small car it got in the mid 30s. It needed a sixth gear in the worst way. My new much larger 2014 Mazda6 gets consistently better mileage

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      Yeah highway slogs are not the Fit’s forte. However, I was always impressed with how well our 2007 Base stick shift did in short city driving up and down Ithaca NY’s hills. Consistently mid 30s in the summer. Get it on a twisty state 2 lane highway driving upstate to go camping and it would really shine, our best tank was about 43mpg. I found that if I kept it around 70 mph, right under the 3500rpm i-VTEC crossover where that secondary intake valve kicks in, 40mpg highway was consistently achievable (without a/c use).

    • 0 avatar
      HerrKaLeun

      The auromatics get better mileage due to gear ratio. We have 1st and 2nd generation at work and they get 35 mpg city and close to 40 highway. And yes, they get driven by 5 diffetent people every day and no one cares about mileage and is in a hurry. So a consetvative private owner should get even better mileage.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Versa got a CVT recalibrate around 09 to help mpg. Moonroof had issues with drain channels. 07’s suffered front end flaws strut bushing not sat properly in AquaS. Passenger airbag cover would warp & pop up. Minor stuff really. The Note ain’t selling so well.

    • 0 avatar
      Occam

      My wife’s ’07 has only had two minor issues: Broken engine mount, and a damaged hose between the fluid reservoir and pump for the windshield washer. I think the latter was unnoticed damage from a fender bender.

      It only has 65,000 miles on it though.

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