Bye-Bye Honda Fit, Bye-Bye Honda Civic Coupe, Bye-Bye Accord with a manual transmission
Review By Bruce Hotchkiss*
West Coast Bureau
The Auto Channel
Honda has announced that 2020 will be the last year for the Fit, Civic Coupe, and Accord with a manual transmissions.
The automotive media has gone crazy! Mostly over the loss of a manual transmission. How dare they!
Well from a business point of view it just makes sense. Only 13% of new vehicles are offered with a manual transmission and a report from U.S. News and World Report stated that only 18% of U.S. drivers can actually use a manual transmission. I'm not going to shame those who cannot drive a car with a manual transmission. Nope not going there.
Even in the best of times coordinating three pedals and a gear shift exceeded the abilities of some. The advent of the automatic transmission put more people behind the wheel of a vehicle for good or bad.
In some sections of this vast country driving a car with a stick shift proved tricky. When I first moved to the San Francisco area I was puzzled by all the brake and clutch repair shops. Being a little dense it took me about a nano-second to realize that the hills ate both clutches and brakes. In fact I smoked the clutch in my '89 Mustang 5.0 in traffic going up one legendary SF hill.
I have found some new manual transmission vehicles I've tested over the past few years difficult to drive smoothly, at least at first. Maybe it's the combination of there being little to no feel in the clutch pedal to the drive-by-wire throttles, I don't know but for the first day or so I feel like I'm just learning to drive.
Then of course there's the fuel economy and emissions issue. There are still some out there who think they can get better fuel economy with a manual transmission. Test results usually dispute this. Regardless it's difficult to impossible to consistently get better economy and emissions with a manual transmission. Fuel economy and emissions are very important to the auto companies.
From a performance point of view, at least for street cars, an automatic trans is a better choice. Gone are the horsepower robbing "slush boxes" of old. Most if not all modern performance vehicles post better acceleration times with an automatic. Some race cars no longer have a clutch pedal and shifting is done with paddle shifters on the steering wheel.
So while you and I may like manual transmissions we are a dying breed.
The Civic Coupe and Fit are victim to falling sales (and maybe smaller profit margins). Personally I'm more upset to see the Fit discontinued. It's been a favorite of mine since it first appeared in North America in 2006. We've been thinking of buying one in the fall - if there's any left. Probably once a month I "build" one on the Honda website, or search local dealer's inventory to see if they have one just the way we want it. And no it won't have a manual transmission.
*Author's Note: I have been writing car reviews since 1984. I am a Certified Automotive Technician although I no longer ply that trade. I worked for twenty years for the California Department of Consumer Affairs & Bureau of Automotive Repair. I sat on three legislative advisory committees. I wrote an automotive column for the Tracy Press, and before that the Pacifica Tribune. I was a member of the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada and am a member of the Western Automotive Journalists.