With the new Honda Fit, engineering solutions once again take priority

SAN DIEGO — If there is any question about whether smart engineering is on its way back at Honda Motor Co., one need look no further than the second-row “magic” seats of the 2015 Honda Fit.

In an impressive display of packaging, not only does the second row give plenty of legroom and headroom for a 6-foot-tall person to sit — unheard of in a subcompact car — but the seats fold down seamlessly to the level of the hatchback’s cargo area.

Sure, the seats cost more — Honda declined to say how much — to engineer and build than conventional seats. But a conventional seat — as seen in the Ford Fiesta, Nissan Versa and Hyundai Accent — has nowhere near the same occupant space and does not fold flat with the cargo area. To Honda’s engineers, the seats are worth every penny.

“It depends on how you think about it,” said Makoto Konishi, the Fit’s chief engineer or “large project leader” in Honda parlance. “Sometimes added cost is necessary. To spend the money to beat the competitio
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