US-bound 2014 Honda Fit will not have engine stop-start system

Article by Anita Panait, on September 24, 2013

The redesigned Honda Fit that will be rolled out in the United States in mid-2014 won’t feature an engine stop-start system, a technology that helps save fuel by shutting off the engine at stoplights. Part of the reason is that the lag between stop and start makes the vehicle slow off the line. According to Nobuhiko Shishido, a lead powertrain engineer for the new Fit, speed and power rule in the US, leaving those small cars with stop-start systems in the dust.

Shishido remarked at a recent Fit preview that stop-start engines "will lose at stoplights to V-6s," referring to the extra split second it takes to re-engage the engine when a stop-start vehicle prepares to roll again. The stop-start system automatically shifts the car into neutral to turn off the engine. Then when a driver lifts his foot off the brake pedal, the starter motor re-engages the engine and the drivetrain is shifted back into drive.

The process may take nearly a second, according to Kentaro Yokoo, chief engineer of the hybrid drivetrain in the Fit. But one second may seem like eternity for those seeking to accelerate right when the stoplight turns green. Hybrid vehicles typically use the stop-start system as it helps improve fuel economy. But since big and powerful electric motors do double duty to restart the engine, the startup does not register delays.

On the other hand, non-hybrids are fitted with starter motors, which are typically weak to propel the vehicles seamless, according to Yokoo. Although engineers could offset this by increasing the size of the starter motor, this translates to additional weight and cost. The start stop system proved to be popular outside North America and comes as standard on all versions of Honda's new Fit in Japan.

The new Fit has a refreshing and jaunty new style to highlight its improved control and strength. The streamlined and purposed design of the entire vehicle is combined with strong outlines streaming from the front to the back, across the hood and roofline, and round the sides.

These outlines begin with the dynamic X-shape of the front fender. The top V of the X splits and wraps around the bottom edge of the headlamps and across the bonnet. The powerful character outlines in the bonnet move effortlessly up the A-pillars to then move front to the roof peak then narrowing down to the colour-matching rear roof spoiler. The inverted bottom V also splits to outline the angled lower side pods that encase the fog lamps on the EX and EX-L trims.

Displaying a strong and engrained look, the outlines at the rim of the pronounced lower air intake blaze backward, ride above the wheel-emphasising front fenders and then expand into a wedge to surround the rear wheel arch.

A mid-height chiselled outline springs from the front wheel and embosses a shape through the handles to grow around the tail lamp. Over the front fender, the prominent solid grille and lowered headlight styling makes an even, single-motion form that carries on with a unified straight flow above the bonnet, windscreen, and roof. From the bottom air intake in the back, a rooted bottom edge grasps the design tightly to the road.

All the lines terminate at the back into a significant multiple-lateral form and neat rear diffuser. The rear styling’s strength’s emphasis comes from the roof spoiler and forward leaning rear window. Combined tail lamps grow powerfully into an angled shape with reflectors that rise to the roof. The lights find balance below with the rear bumper edge flaring with a parallel but reversed form. The compact bar finish between the rear window’s hatch reflects the front grille styling for a cohesive sensation. On the EX and EX-L models, the finish is in opulent chrome.

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