CAR REVIEW: Is The New Honda Ballade A Gem Or Cubic Zirconia?
I remember the original Honda Ballade featured headlights that folded down flush with the bonnet and everyone thought it the height of elegance at the time.– MICHELLE YORK, GM SOUTH AFRICAN GUILD OF MOTORING JOURNALISTS & FREELANCER FOR DRIVING IN HEELS
I remember the original Honda Ballade from the ’80s with headlights that folded down flush with the bonnet. Everyone thought it the height of elegance and the Ballade soon became one of Honda’s most iconic and successful models. Almost 4 decades later and a name change detour via Civic that I won’t delve into, the 8thGeneration Honda Ballade is back with a 3-model line-up – Comfort, Elegance, and the range-topping RS.
The RS moniker refers to “Road Sailing” and not, as one might think, to a more powerful engine– MICHELLE YORK, GM SOUTH AFRICAN GUILD OF MOTORING JOURNALISTS & FREELANCER FOR DRIVING IN HEELS
The all-new Ballade is an attractive sedan with a sculpted body and striking lines. The front boasts a bold grille design as well as the new slim headlight treatment shared with the larger Honda Civic. The rear lights instantly reminded me of a certain little German car that I am rather fond of. The Ballade has a slightly lower centre of gravity and is marginally larger than its predecessor, all of which translates to impressive road handling.
I had the flagship Honda Ballade RS on test, and I simply had to slip in the word “ship” somewhere because the RS moniker refers to “Road Sailing” and not, as one might think, to a more powerful engine. While the Ballade does have a very capable suspension for our roads, the RS badge might cause a little confusion!
I took the Ballade RS on a drive to the diamond mining town of Cullinan to see if Honda had produced a real gem or cubic zirconia; bearing in mind that it enters the market amidst the likes of the Corolla Quest, VW Polo sedan, Mazda3, and Fiat Tipo. Here’s what I discovered.
The all-new Ballade introduces a new 1.5L DOHC engine with i-VTEC technology and a revised version of Honda’s Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). It has a good road presence and solidly grips through corners giving it a safe overall feel. The CVT is relatively quiet but should you need to unexpectedly accelerate, you’ll be met with the distinctive CVT whine, but this is to be expected. Thankfully the RS comes fitted with paddle shifts, should the automatic gearbox need a little assistance.
I thoroughly enjoyed the new Honda Ballade and was impressed by its excellent fuel consumption, an admirable sales point in a time when the cost of living is soaring
The Ballade RS is an accomplished sedan with good finishes and the usual alphabet of features like ABS, EBD, VSA, etc. There is ample legroom in the front and rear and a generous boot that could easily fit a pram or set of golf clubs.
All models are fitted with ISOFIX child seat anchors making the Ballade a suitable option for those on the market for a capable family car. The all-new Ballade also offers those looking to make the upgrade from a hatchback to a vehicle that has a little more panache than the usual suspects on the market.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the new Honda Ballade and was impressed by its excellent fuel consumption, an admirable sales point in a time when the cost of living is soaring. After my trip to Cullinan, I can confirm that the Honda Ballade is not a cubic zirconia, it’s a little diamond and diamonds are a girl’s best friend after all.
Priced from :
Ballade Comfort 1.5: R 336 500
Ballade Elegance 1.5: R 366 900
Ballade Elegance 1.5: R 396 900
The Honda Ballade range comes standard with a five-year/200 000 warranty, four-year/60 000km, and three-year AA Roadside Assistance.
ABOUT MICHELLE YORK
Michelle York has been in the automotive industry for over 20 years and is the General Manager of the SA Guild of Motoring Journalists, (SAGMJ). When she isn’t test driving cars or cracking the whip at the Guild, Michelle enjoys tinkering about in the garage and is currently converting her incredibly bright yellow minivan into an incredibly bright mini camper van. She has 5 lively dogs of varying shapes and sizes – all of which are jostling to ride shotgun once the van has been completed.