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Fit As

So with the sale of GRU the Accord, and knowing that we needed to upgrade the Prelude as the daily we went on a hunt.

We looked at a few cars in this segment, Toyota BB, Toyota IST, GD Honda Fit, Toyota Corolla, Nissan Cube, Toyota Prius, Honda Civic Hybrid, Honda Insight etc. The criteria was simple, it needed to be reliable, comfortable, auto, small displacement and spacious.

The one car that stuck out for me was a late 2007 build GE8 Honda Fit RS. It was nice to drive, reasonably nippy, had good options and wasnt prone to CVT startup clutch failure like the GD Fit. After much discussion we finally agreed this is the car we would buy. We struck up a deal with the salesman and off we drove.

We were the first owners in NZ, being a fresh import from Japan with 99,000km on the clock. It was tidy, obviously well looked after, but didn’t have any service history (typical for imports).

So far all we have done is regular servicing, and putting on heaps of KM. In the couple of years we have owned it (3 years this year I think) we have put on 40,000km. it absolutely excels at being a daily, and I wouldn’t want anything else.

Being of the Road Sailing (RS) spec, we get the big block 1.5L L15A iVtec engine, with 120hp or so on tap. That power is channelled to the wheels via a CVT box, which can be put into sport or manual modes (where the latter simulates 7 “gears”). The chassis is stiff and solid, and the handling is a lot of fun when driven hard. Head into a corner, begin turn and tap the brakes. The front will duck in and the rear will rotate to follow.

It would certainly benefit from some wider wheels and tyres and lowering, but that would defeat the purpose of it as a comfortable daily. I think with even just lowering it would prove to be a lot of fun to drive.

Unfortunately it hasn’t all been fun and games. When we got the car the first thing we did was service it and do some preventative maintenance. So along with an oil change we had the CVT fluid changed and valve clearances checked and corrected (due to slight noise when cold). We had this done at the local main Honda dealer.

After work I head over to pick the car up as the work had been completed. Pay up, grab the keys and head out. Jump in, try to start the car and its reluctant to start. Finally it does start but doesn’t idle, it’s very lumpy and clearly not well. I shut it off and head in to give the service advisor some grief. Took the loan car home and was told it would be sorted tomorrow.

Once again, the next day I head in after work to pick the car up. This time it starts and idles ok, so I head off on my way. Heading home I notice it’s well down on power though. The next day I head back into Honda, again, and told them I don’t want to see the car again until it’s correctly fixed. Later on that day I get a call saying the car is ready again, and that it was one valve that was slightly out of adjustment (sure sure). I pick the car up and although there is now some valve noise when cold, it drives OK.

I now make sure never to recommend that dealer, as they are just rubbish. Average customer service and clearly their techs aren’t that great either.

The next service was carried out by another Honda dealer, and their customer service and workmanship was miles ahead of the other one. We paid to have the valve clearances done again at this next service, and they’ve been spot on since. It’s also small things like the first dealer not grooming the car (in fact they decided to hose the car down even though I had just machine polished it, and left water spots all over it, making it worse than when it went in), whilst the second dealer did and it left me feeling like more of a valued customer.

The only mods I have done is to fit a double din bluetooth headunit (an OEM unit from a Mitsubishi Triton), and LED bulbs all around. Nothing too major, but it’s handy being able to take calls in the car, and to actually see in the boot at night. Also had the headlamp auto adjustment motor fail, so both were disabled (as shown in the Projects section)

This is our current daily as shortly after we got this the Prelude was sold. We have no intention to sell this any time soon and will probably drive it into the ground eventually. Hoping to make 200,000km in it.


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