2013 Honda Fit EV Driving Impressions

The all-electric Honda Fit EV is a bit different from the other models. On the road, the Fit EV is really two cars in one: in Eco mode it conserves wattage and pretty much ambles along, a sedate statement of green consciousness. In Normal mode, acceleration and torque is sufficient for cruising and city driving. Punch in Sport mode and the lightweight Fit thrusts forward with a significant kick and the EV holds a head of steam that's more than enough to attack an incline or power up an interstate on-ramp.

The Fit EV draws its power from a 20-kilowatt hour, lithium-ion battery and a 92-kilowatt coaxial electric motor/gearbox. The high-density electric motor, similar to the unit that drives the FCX Clarity fuel cell electric vehicle, is highly efficient and ultra-silent; more than a couple of times we had to check the Ready to Drive readout on the dash panel to make sure that it was running and ready to engage.

The three-mode Dynamic Electric Drive system uses Eco, Normal and Sport buttons located to the left of the steering wheel. In Eco mode, it labors when uphill thrust is required, and torque is limited. In Sport mode, the EV is positively fast. Sport mode reduced the range by about 20 percent in our testing.

Fit EV is fun to drive on winding roads. Handling is crisp, steering is responsive. At 3252 pounds, Fit EV weighs more than a standard Fit. While that would be a factor on a racetrack or autocross circuit, we didn't notice it while driving around town, on freeways and on backroads.

When it comes time to recharge, the Fit EV owner should have a plan A, and a Plan B just to be safe and avoid range anxiety.

A 6.6 kW, onboard, 32-amp charger allows for recharging of the Fit EV with a 240-volt circuit in less than three hours. Owners will want to equip their home with a 240-volt charging station. Honda has partnered with Leviton as the preferred Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) charging supplier.

When using 120-volt household current, be prepared to close the garage door and settle in for a long nap; a full recharge takes more than 10 hours, Honda says. In fact, we plugged the Fit into a 120-volt household line and five hours later, the range meter hadn't budged. The charger during that time appeared to be operating, as all the charge lights were green. You'll want that 240-volt charging system.

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