The timing couldn't be better for having a Fit. Honda's new subcompact car for 2007 comes along just as $3 per gallon gas becomes commonplace in the United States and people wonder whether they can afford to drive to work.

Actually, all the members of Japan's big three are right on the ball, with Toyota introducing the tiny Yaris and Nissan poised to launch the similar Versa for 2007.

Fit is not a new car for Honda, with thousands of them running around Japan and Europe (where it's called Jazz) since their introduction in 2002. But they're new to us, and fit into a subcompact niche now inhabited by such small craft as Chevrolet Aveo and Kia Rio.

Honda arrived in the U.S. market in the 1970s with the then-miniscule Civic, a boxy, snub-nosed car that rode on 12-inch wheels, quickly winning a loyal following during the nation's first gas crisis. Motorcyclists were familiar already with Honda's reliable products, and Civic was accepted as a four-wheeled extension of the brand.

Now that Civic has grown into a standard-sized compact, Fit returns Honda to its subcompact roots with another appealing little gas sipper.

Fit's base price is about $14,000, so there are cheaper subcompacts. But Fit is no minimalistic econobox. It's a fully equipped car loaded with standard features in two levels of trim, base or Sport, with automatic transmission as the only available option.

When Fit arrived in my driveway, I was confronted with the true test of compatibility: would my gangly, too-tall self actually fit in the Fit? Good news, I do. Comfortably, too, and without feeling like an overgrown child piloting a kiddy car.

Vehicle type: Five-passenger, four-door hatchback, front-wheel drive.

Engine: 1.5 liter inline 4, 109 horsepower at 5,800 rpm, 105 pound-feet torque at 4,800 rpm

Transmission: 5-speed automatic.

Wheelbase: 96.5 inches.

Overall length: 157.4 inches.

Curb weight: 2,514.

EPA rating: 31 city, 38 highway.

Highs: Agile handling, well-equipped, great gas mileage.

Lows: Funky styling, tight back seat, modest engine power.