By Khulekani Dumisa
The sedan segment is under pressure due to the onslaught of SUVs but a few of these cars remain resilient and are pulling decent numbers. In fact, go back a few years, the Ballade was one of the key players of the segment. Things may be tough but Honda reckons they have a shot and on paper that may be true, the Ballade has a few things going for it – space, generous specification, decent ride quality and decent pricing.
The new model is larger than the outgoing model: 110mm longer, 55mm wider, and 10mm lower. This translates into a lower centre of gravity for greater on-road stability, better cornering confidence and an improvement in the overall driving dynamics.
From a design perspective, the new Ballade incorporates a solid wing face that spans the entire front width of the car, while incorporating the brand’s bold grille design and the new slim headlight treatment shared with the larger Honda Civic.
The Ballade range launches with three models: Comfort, Elegance and RS. The all-new Ballade is the first model to introduce the global Honda ‘RS’ brand name to Southern Africa. Honda uniquely defines ‘RS’ as ‘Road Sailing’, a nod to the smooth nature of a boat sailing on water and not performance. Think R-Line, M Sport package and AMG-Line.
The Ballade Comfort and Elegance models are equipped with projector-type halogen headlights, while the range topping RS is fitted with LED headlights and fog lights. All models come standard with LED daytime running lights and distinctive LED taillights that wrap around the side of the body. These really make the Ballade look upmarket.
The colour options for the Ballade include a new Platinum White (Pearl), Radiant Red (Metallic), Lunar Silver (Metallic) and Modern Steel (Metallic).
The interior of the new Ballade is roomy, however tall drivers will struggle with the sunroof. Yours truly is barely over 1,7 metres tall and barely had any headroom in the RS model fitted with a sunroof.
The new Ballade features new seat designs with fabric upholstery on Comfort and Elegance models, while the range-topping RS interior gets leather upholstery.
On the infotainment front, the new Honda Ballade gets a high-resolution eight-inch touchscreen display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality. The unit also features Bluetooth and steering wheel controls, and comes standard on the Elegance and RS models.
Electrically operated side mirrors and windows, cruise control, automatic air-conditioning and auto headlights are all standard features across the range.
The flagship RS model gains a host of additional features and technology such as smart entry with walk-away auto locking, a rear-view parking camera, electric sunroof, and an all-new intuitive 7-inch TFT multi-information display replacing the traditional analogue instrument cluster.
The new Honda Ballade is offered with a number of active and passive safety features. These include advanced Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA), rear parking sensors (Comfort model), reverse parking camera (RS), driver, front passenger, side and curtain SRS airbags as standard across the model range. In addition, all models are equipped with seatbelt pretensioners and ISOFIX child seat anchors.
Engine and performance
The new Ballade is powered by a 1.5L DOHC engine with i-VTEC technology. This engine makes 80 kW of power and 145 Nm of torque. Fuel economy is rated at 5.5l/100km for the 1.5L DOHC engine with i-VTEC technology.
The Ballade ticks all the boxes in terms of power delivery, comfort and a smooth transmission. The car even holds its own in corners and other fairly challenging road scenarios. The slight issue is practicality in the RS model. The sunroof eats too much into the headroom and affects the driving position. This unfortunately affects enjoyment. Other than that, the Ballade is worth considering for a family that is looking for a practical sedan.
The new Honda Ballade is priced as follows:
Ballade 1.5 Comfort CVT R336,500
Ballade 1.5 Elegance CVT R366,900
Ballade 1.5 RS CVT R396,900
Prices include a five-year/200,000 warranty and a four-year/60 000km Service.
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