Launch Drive: New Honda Ballade

CRA Motoring News – South Africa

By Ntsako Mthethwa

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The Ballade is an easy car to drive and it stays tight and composed to the road ahead.

The Honda Ballade has cemented its name as a reliable model in the past 20 years and, by the look of things, the new eighth-generation model is no exception. 

The new model I sampled in and around the Western Cape spawns exciting updates and changes, as well as improved driving dynamics. 

Launching in three trim: Comfort, Elegance and RS, Honda has gone easy with the new Ballade.

Just in case you’re wondering what the RS suffix stands for, it stands for Road Sailing, more the same as what the R-Line is to the Volkswagen brand. 

Its looks are on point and what caught my eye when I arrived at the airport parking was the stunning and sporty exterior design cues. 

The exterior features new slim headlights, bold grille design plus sleeker taillights.

I only got the opportunity to sample the Elegance and RS models at the launch. The Comfort and Elegance models come fitted with projector-type halogen lights while the RS gets LED headlights and fog lights. 

LED daytime running lights come standard across the range as well as distinctive LED rear lights. 

The Comfort and Elegance models are fitted with 15-inch alloy wheels while the RS rides on 16-inch alloys. The RS’ looks are further enhanced with the addition of stunning front and rear sport bumpers plus a rear trunk spoiler. 

The front of the RS also incorporates a mesh-type grille and a unique fog light housing. The new Honda Ballade can be had in the following colours: new Platinum White (Pearl), Radiant Red (Metallic), Lunar Silver (Metallic) and Modern Steel (Metallic).

Inside, space is nothing to worry about thanks to the larger dimensions that have really translated to improved boot and cabin space. 

The new Honda Ballade is bigger than its predecessor and it measures 110mm in length, 55mm in width and sits 10mm closer to the ground. 

The boot space is measured at 510 litres, a figure that people looking for space would be proud of.

The quality of the interior is not something to bemoan, taking into consideration that other vehicles within the same segment offer something similar. 

The Comfort and Elegance models come fitted with high-quality fabric upholstery which looks good and offers optimum cushioning, while the RS is adorned with premium leather upholstery. 

There is a beautifully designed 8-inch touchscreen system (only for Elegance and RS trims) that is easy to navigate through.

The system incorporates Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality as well as Bluetooth and steering wheel controls. 

There are electrically operated side mirrors and windows, cruise control, automatic air-conditioning and auto headlights, all as standard across the range.

The range-topping RS model adds a 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 that replaces the traditional analogue instrument cluster. 

The new Honda Ballade range is powered by a sole 1.5-litre SOHC i-VTEC engine that produces 89 kW and 145 Nm of torque. 

The engine is paired with a reworked version of the CVT transmission, however, those who prefer changing gears themselves will be disappointed as no manual transmission is on offer. 

On the road, the new Honda Ballade picks up speed without any hassle and it cruises with so much luxury on the open road. Like most CVTs, the transmission whines under intense acceleration and during spirited driving, but it gets the car moving. 

Thanks to the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifts, I was able to manipulate the CVT to deliver adequate performance during overtaking prowess.

I have no doubt that the CVT transmission could behave fairly well when driven inland. The Ballade is an easy car to drive and it stays tight and composed to the road ahead.

Body roll is minimal as I was were able to attack mountain passes with so much aplomb.

I did not keep a sharp eye on the fuel consumption figures but the numbers would hover over the 5.9l/100km without even trying to drive it economically, which is an attraction. 

In the safety department, the new Honda Ballade comes fitted with ABS with EBD and Vehicle Stability Assist. Rear parking sensors are standard on all but the base Comfort model, while the RS model gains a reverse parking camera for added convenience.

There are airbags for the driver, front passenger, side and curtain SRS as standard. 

In addition, all models are equipped with seatbelt pretensioners and ISOFIX child seat anchors.

Buyers who are in the market for a run-around vehicle that is spacious and drives well, then the Ballade is a good pick.

Those who run e-hailing services such as Uber and Bolt have an added option. 

For additional peace of mind, the Honda Ballade range comes standard with Honda’s five-year/200 000 warranty, as well as a four-year/60 000km Service Plan with 15 000km service intervals.

Customers also have the reassurance of three-year AA Roadside Assistance.

  • Ballade 1.5 Comfort CVT R336 500
  • Ballade 1.5 Elegance CVT R366 900
  • Ballade 1.5 RS CVT R396 900

Article Credit To Chatsworth Rising Sun.