Honda South Africa has introduced the eighth generation of its Ballade compact sedan in South Africa.
The new Ballade, which slots in between the small, entry-level Amaze and the bigger Civic, is the first model to introduce the global Honda ‘RS’ brand name to Southern Africa. Honda uniquely defines ‘RS’ as ‘Road Sailing’, for the vehicle’s apparent smooth road manners.
Despite the unique interpretation of the RS moniker, it is the model with sporty cosmetic enhancements, albeit without additional engine power.
The new Ballade has a lower and wider stance, along with a longer bonnet and a short front overhang that reminds one of the Civic ranges. It is larger than the outgoing model – 110 mm longer, 55 mm wider and 10 mm lower.
The Ballade Comfort and Elegance models are equipped with projector-type halogen lights, while the range-topping RS is fitted with LED headlights and fog lights. All models come standard with LED daytime running lights.
The Comfort and Elegance models are fitted with 15-ich alloy wheels, while the RS model has 16-inch alloys. The flagship RS model is further differentiated through the addition of exclusive RS design elements, including front and rear sport bumpers, a rear trunk spoiler, a mesh-type grille and unique fog light housing.
Inside the Ballade there is a high-resolution eight-inch touchscreen display. The brand-new infotainment system comes standard on the Elegance and RS models and gives the user full Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality. The unit also features Bluetooth and steering wheel controls.
The flagship RS model gains additional features 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, which replaces the traditional analogue instrument cluster. This allows the driver to easily adjust the contents displayed on the instrument cluster via controls on the steering wheel.
Under the bonnet, the 1.5L SOHC i-VTEC engine of the outgoing model makes space for a new 1.5 litre engine with i-VTEC technology. The powertrain achieves improved efficiency and reduced emissions, without compromising on performance. It now generates a slightly higher power output of 89 kW (+1 kW) with the same peak torque of 145 Nm now reached at a lower 4 500 r/min.
The Ballade is fitted with a revised version of Honda's Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), which now features ‘G-Design’ shift control. This creates the sense of driving a traditional automatic transmission through the integration of artificial gears during acceleration.
Underpinning the Ballade is a lightweight and highly rigid platform carried over and adapted from the outgoing model. Through the adoption of Honda's Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) design technology and new high-tensile materials, significant improvements have been achieved in the overall dynamic performance, handling and safety.
The colour line-up for the Ballade includes a new Platinum White (Pearl), Radiant Red (Metallic), Lunar Silver (Metallic) and Modern Steel (Metallic)
Competitors include the Hyundai Accent, Toyota Corolla Quest and the VW Polo Sedan, and on the cheaper side the Ford Figo Sedan, Suzuki Ciaz and the Fiat Tipo Sedan.
The pricing (November 2020): Ballade 1.5 Comfort CVT (R336 500), Ballade 1.5 Elegance CVT (R366 900) and the Ballade 1.5 RS CVT (R396 900).
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