In what's turning out to be a miserable year for Honda, at last a ray of good news…

The Honda Fit (aka Jazz) is almost certain to go to the top as Japan's best selling car this year, defeating the long-undefeatable Toyota Corolla in the process.

It’s hard to believe, I know, but the Corolla has been Japan's official number one every single year, bar one, since 1969. The Corolla might not be a car to set too many hearts a-twitter, but on home turf a wide line-up, strong pricing, that long history and Toyota sales power means it just keeps on selling.

The one time the Corolla was dethroned came in 2002 when Honda's original Fit outsold the champion.

Now, Honda's set to do it again in 2008 with the new Fit. Over the 11 months from January to November, Honda has sold 165,000 Fits. Toyota has countered with 137,434 units for the Corolla. With less than a month to go in a sluggish market, can Toyota really close that gap? It seems unlikely.

The Honda's sales performance is all the more impressive in view of the fact that it's just one model against a whole fleet of Corollas (saloons, wagons and MPVs).

Does this mean the end for the Corolla? Hardly. The redoubtable Toyota will keep on keeping on, in Japan at least. But if Honda can keep the Fit hot in the charts and out-slug the Corolla again in 2009, that would mark a changing of the times.

(Oh, and before anyone writes in to say that the Suzuki Wagon R or Daihatsu Move is really Japan's best selling car, the answer is that 660cc minicars don't count in the official JADA sales rankings. Call it another quirk of Japanese motordom.)