Honda Fit Vs Mazda2 Vs Ford Fifsta

to do exactly what you intended it to do. The five-speed manual transmission is also really slick feeling. While not perhaps quite as short of throw as the Mazda2's, every time you drop the Honda into a new gear, it settles in very nicely, and with a satisfying feel. This makes rowing the gears a motive treat.

But the engine's sweet spot is a lot bigger than those of the other two contenders. When you switch gears in the Fit, even if you botch it a bit, you're never really struggling to get moving again. This forgiving nature also means the driver has to shift fewer times over the same stretch of road. Less chance for error, and more time spent applying power.

The only thing the Honda really lacks, here, is the flat cornering of the other two cars. Any quickness that is conceded to rolling through the corners, though, is made up easily by the gap in easily accessible power on demand.

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and with a more aggressive style, that up/down motion reared its head. Still, this softness in the suspension wasn't as doughy as the Ford's, and not quite as bone-jarring as the Mazda's.—SM

• Using the brakes and accelerator was good in the Fit. Whether going or stopping, it was quick to respond and ultimately the most rewarding. The only drawback was the bit of instability it displays under hard braking. It tended to wobble a bit as it drew to a halt, as though the suspension was caught off guard by the act.—JBS

• The Fit's suspension sits firmly between the harder Mazda and the softer Ford. It doesn't beat

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HONOA FIT VS. MAZOA2 VS. FORO FIESTA

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the hell out of you on pothole-ridden roads, but it is still an absolute blast on a twisty piece of pavement. The damping on the Fit sorts out squat and dive quite well, but there was more lateral movement than I would have liked. Overall, the Fit is definitely more pinned down than the

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Ford, but it can't really match the terrier-like tenacity of the 2.—BT

Sonic

• When shifting through the gears, the sound of the Fit's engine is pretty helpful. As soon as you re-apply throttle, the noise lets you know whether or not you're

in the sweet spot. It changes tone as is approaches peak output. It draws you in.—JBS

• The sound of the 1.5-liter really put me in the mood for fast driving, too. This is certainly an engine that sounds best at the higher reaches of the rev range.

From a harshness perspective though, the Honda isn't as quiet as the luxe Fiesta. Wind noise and the engine note are nicely isolated when cruising, but tire noise seems to invade the cabin fairly easily. Maybe switching to different rubber would solve the problem?—BT

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• Not quite as boomy on the highway as I remember from my last drive, as it turns out. I still noticed fairly loud wind/tire noise, but not as much buzzing from the engine as I had thought. Still not as relaxing at speed as

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the Ford, but better sounding at top revs, too.—SM

• No problems with visibility here. The Honda seems like it has miles and miles of glass surrounding

HONDA FIT VS. MAZDA2 VS. FORD FIESTA

the driver. No real blind spots to speak of. I especially liked the little windows near the A-pillars. That said, I was never really that comfortable when in the Fit. I couldn't find a comfortable driving position, as the seat felt like it was up on stilts, the steering wheel didn't have enough in the way of adjustability, and the shifter actually felt low after getting out of the Mazda2. The seats themselves really didn't give me the kind of support I'd like for aggressive driving, either. More bolstering and an increase in lumbar support would go a long way here.—BT

• With the exception of my long leg bumping up against the side of the center stack, I found the

Fit to be both comfortable and well laid out. The high seating position didn't happen to translate into a "tall"-feeling vehicle for me, but rather let me push the limits a bit thanks to near-perfect forward visibility. When you can see where you're going, you can get there a lot faster.—SM

• The Honda was the roomiest of the group. The Fit's 20.6 cubic feet of cargo space with the seats up puts the other two to shame, each with about 13. Seats folded, Honda gets 57.3, while the Mazda and Ford have about 28 cubic feet. If you're not accustomed to traveling light, or if you often bring passengers (human or furry), you're going to want that extra room.—JBS

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HONDA FIT VS. MAZDA2 VS. FORD FIESTA

• The Honda had far and away the largest and easiest-to-access trunk. The hatch opens high, and features a low entry point. Once inside, it's properly cavernous, especially with the back seats folded down. As John points out, the Fit measures out as the biggest, too.—BT

• The Fit lacked a few things on the equipment front that were certainly questionable. Chief among them were steering wheel-mounted radio controls, which could be found on the cheaper Mazda. You can pretty much spec all of the options here that you'll find in the Fiesta, but you'll make your Fit way more expensive in the process.—BT

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Ford Fiesta

Engine/Transmission • Despite the Fiesta having the most power and torque, it never really delivered the kind of acceleration we were expecting. We suspect this has more to do with Ford's eco-minded gear ratios than any actual issues with the engine. Is it too late to get the Mazda gearbox in the Fiesta? After driving the 2, shifting in the Ford seemed like quite a chore, thanks to the very long throws of its five-speed box—a bit too notchy to really run through the gears quickly. Worse still, if the Mazda's clutch was too sensitive, the Ford's felt like it had mainlined Novocain. It seemed like there was a lot more travel

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in the clutch than was necessary. This made it difficult to adjust to the catchpoint's location.—BT

• This was the least rewarding manual transmission, by kind of a lot. It felt pretty sloppy, while the other two cars offered fast, crisp shifts. There was a lot more room for error in the Ford's box—not ideal when trying to shave off seconds, or just have a good time.—JBS

• Fiesta felt the slowest of our group, despite having the most power. Much of this was down to the manual transmission, which was far from inviting to use. I generally just stuck the car in third gear on our handling roads, and let the pieces fall where they

HONOA FIT VS. MAZOA2 VS. FORO FIESTA

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may.—SM Steering

• I'm normally a big fan of Ford's electronic power-assisted steering systems, but it just didn't deliver against the competition. The rack itself wasn't fast enough, and lacked precision and feedback when compared to the Honda and Mazda. On the freeway though, it felt quite a bit better. It didn't feel skittish like the Mazda, which really made long trips easier to deal with.—BT

• Although the steering feel wasn't very good in terms of feedback, the Fiesta offered snappy response from on center, making turn-in an easy and rewarding feat. A few degrees from the helm, and

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the car eagerly turned in to attack the corner.—JBS

• To me the steering experience was really indicative of the Fiesta tuning as a whole. This is a car that has been envisioned and engineered to be a good all-

HONDA FIT VS. MAZDA2 VS. FORD FIESTA

Ford Fiesta Honda Fit

their probable small budget. Ford would rather, it seems, be happy to go after a larger audience, by sacrificing some elements that attract the enthusiast crowd. Is that approach bad? Not at all. Is it an approach that is likely to yield great steering feel and feedback? Not at all.—SM

around vehicle—dynamically competent, but filtered enough to be comfortable. The result is steering that is precise and rather quick, but a bit lifeless. Both Honda and Mazda seem to be courting a car shopper that craves some excitement despite

Suspension/Ride Quality

• The suspension felt tuned more toward comfort than for sporting driving, almost the opposite of the Mazda. The Fiesta drove more like a larger car, which is nice for longer drives, but not so helpful in the tight twisties. Still, it rode flatter than the Fit through the bends.—JBS

• The Fiesta's suspension is

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Seyth Miersma Picks: Mazda2

We've lived with the Mazda2 at our office for three months now. So, while it's easy to see that both the Fit and the Fiesta are worthy competition, it's clear to me that the Deuce is the best driver's car of the group.

The 2 is light, pointy, and quick, with controls that are almost universally direct and communicative. All of those attributes make the Mazda a car that is as fun to drive through an urban environment as it is on the sort of twisting back roads that we love to traverse. Sure, the highway driver that

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puts in a two-hour commute every day is probably going to want a car that's quieter and more refined—I'll give you that. But anyone who is looking to squeeze as much excitement out of their small car budget as possible will want to drive the 2 first.

In many ways the Mazda2 is following in the footsteps of the MX-5, which has become the standard bearer for grassroots motorsport over the last few decades. It may not have the rear-drive smoothness of its roadster cousin, but I've no doubt that many a 2 will see use as an autocrossing machine or other low-cost racing option.

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HONDA FIT VS. MAZDA2 VS. FORD FIESTA

certainly the softest of our three cars. The damping just feels too soft to allow any real fun when pushed. There is a lot of lateral motion, which is disconcerting in a hard cornering situation, and the Fiesta felt like it would get out of sorts when asked to make rapid directional changes. This is definitely the highway cruiser of the group.—BT

• I actually found the handling to be pretty balanced here—less stiff through the corners than either of the other cars, but better able to stay flat over broken roads, too. Fiesta didn't move up and down on its suspension like the Honda did, but there was a lot

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more unwanted body movement overall.—SM

• When I engaged in a little bit of hard braking, I saw the Fiestas nose dive like a French soccer player. This was especially evident on our handling route, where that dive would really damage driver confidence when setting up for a tight corner.—BT

Sonic

• The Fiestas engine had the heartiest sound. From hearing it, one could easily think it was more powerful than it actually is. It was lower in tone then the others, giving it a more American flavor. Sound came into the cabin enough to be heard and enjoyed, but not so much that it felt intrusive.

HONDA FIT VS. MAZDA2 VS. FORD FIESTA

• I noticed a surprisingly muscular engine note in the Fiesta that belied its lack of speed. It sounded pretty beefy, especially in the lower part of the rev range. Mid-range sounded good too, but the upper reaches sounded a bit more docile. The more luxurious Fiesta did a good job of keeping road noise in check, even on rougher roads.

Wind noise was nicely isolated as well. This is the cabin to have if you want a quiet driving environment.—BT

• Exhaust note was significant when I pushed the car hard, but the Ford was the most quiet of our bunch, most of the time. True to the rest of its character, I'd say.—SM

Ford Fiesta Bumping

HONDA FIT VS. MAZDA2 VS. FORD FIESTA

• Fiesta offered a low-slung, cocooned seating position that felt sporty, but it also afforded the least amount of forward visibility of the trio. (Still easy to see out of, to be sure.) As far as practicality goes though, the Fiesta was the hands-down winner, for sure. The starting price is a little bit higher for a lot more content, the fuel economy is the best, and comfort levels were higher here than in the Honda or Mazda.

• The Fiesta definitely had the nicest interior. It felt the most grown up of the three, with the most content and comfort for the buck. The seats were comfortable, and the plastic used throughout the cabin didn't look particularly cheap.—JBS

• I had the easiest time getting adjusted to the Fiesta. The seat offered a lot of adjustability, and when combined with the telescopic steering wheel, it felt like the cabin was custom tailored to me. Like the Mazda, accessing the Ford's trunk required negotiating the high rear bumper, and making the best of a rather narrow space for loading and unloading. There is a lot of low-cost plastic in the trunk that you risk scuffing, too. The Fiesta doesn't really have that much in the way of usable rear-seat space. Legroom is tight even with the front seats scooted up. Ingress/egress is comparable with

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the Mazda, but isn't as good as the

• The Ford is far and away the winner on the content front. For not much more money than the Honda, there's a lot more equipment, both standard and available with options.—BT

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