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Honda's Ballade sings an alluring tune

27.05.2014

THROUGHOUT the years Honda's been making impressive cars. They're driven by reliability and superior craftsmanship. And while the new Honda Ballade sings the same tune, the value proposition is difficult to ignore.

 Re-launched in 2011, many of us were ecstatic to see the Ballade nameplate return to our streets. The car has a strong history with many who grew up with them, and I’m sure we can agree, they were built-proof and gave very few hassles.

Now into its second-generation since its rebirth, the all-new Ballade promises to grow on its previous outbound derivative and ups the ante.

At first glance it may look like a certain Korean competitor, but its new strong lines and redesigned front-end contribute to its confident road appeal. The newcomer’s size is similar to the previous generation but that’s where it ends as only 14 percent of the 2011 version’s sheet metal has been carried over.

While it’s not a bland looking car, it’s safe to say its design is on the secure side;this is thanks to its flowing lines and angles in all the right places.

Inside the cabin, the Ballade has been reworked; the sense of spaciousness is there as the car seems to punch above its weight.

The controls are within comfortable reach and the seats are snug and relaxing thanks to the added shoulder room and legroom. The boot capacity has increased to 536 litres, but unfortunately the rear seats don’t fold down.

Certainly the biggest talking point of the Ballade is the new infotainment system. The entry-level Trend gets an all-new audio system with Bluetooth,including USB and the top spec Elegance, boasts a seven-inch touchscreen display.

The touchscreen interface emulates your smartphone’s functionality, by offering gesture-based control (including tap to select, swipe to scroll, slide to move and pinch to zoom) for more intuitive ease of use. After spending some time playing around with it, the system is difficult to fault. It mimics your phone and with a vast array of apps that can be downloaded, it works well with a whole host of possibilities.

In addition, the infotainment system is fitted with an HDMI port. HDMI allows images, video and audio data to be accessed from compatible smartphones and devices (such as iPads and Tablets), displayed on the Ballade’s screen.

Beyond this, some of the standard features include air-conditioning, electric windows, electric folding mirrors and remote central locking in Trend guise. For a top-of-the-range, features include a multifunction steering wheel that follows the Civic steering wheel’s design and incorporates control of the cruise control, Bluetooth and audio functions.

Powering the new breed of Ballades is the familiar 1.5-litre engine with 88kW and 145Nm. The power will be transferred to the front wheels via a five-speed manual gearbox or a CVT transmission.It’s a well-known engine and works just fine in manual guise offering enough grunt to get by as shemoves from standstill to 100km/h in 9.6 seconds,flaunting a top speed of 185km/h.

The CVT gearbox feels good and is a step in the right direction. However, it’s still a CVT box, which means the engine can be rev-happy at times as the CVT howls along and shifts from 0-100km/h in 11.1 seconds boasting a top speed of 190km/h.

Overall, the new offering shows just how much the Ballade has matured. It’s functional and even more practical than before. It feels solid and composed on the road and with fuel consumption figures at around 5.9 litres/100km for the manual and 5.8 litres/100km for the CVT it does have a frugal side.

The pricing includes a three-year/100 000km warranty as well as a four-year/60 000km service plan.

Pricing: 

Honda Ballade 1.5 Trend R195 900
Honda Ballade 1.5 Trend CVT R210 500
Honda Ballade 1.5 Elegance R220 990
Honda Ballade 1.5 Elegance CVT  R235 590

                        

Article written by Stuart Moir
27.05.2014
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