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Ballade screams value for money

16.09.2014

THE Ballade badge means a lot to me. My first car was a grey 1994 180i Honda Ballade SR4 with the wonderful 97kW B18B3 engine. I’ll spare you a trip down memory lane and just say that I loved my Ballade and expected quite a bit from the second-generation of this sedan after its revival some three years ago.

So, when I received the 2014 version, I wondered how 20 years of development has helped this iconic nomenclature. In terms of styling, the new model perhaps lacks the character of the older cars but is at least a modern shape. It measures 4 400mm in length, has a wheelbase of 2 600mm and is 1 475mm tall meaning, it’s quite a compact car.

Inside the Ballade is not a bad place to be although it certainly doesn’t feel as high quality as the likes of the Civic. There’s enough space inside with decent interior space for occupants, as well as a 536-litre boot. There are nice-to-haves, like three power points to charge devices as well as a few storage compartments.

The powertrain is the familiar 1.5-litre four-cylinder with 88kW/145Nm along with a manual gearbox, which didn’t feel like a Honda box but was instead quite loose and ponderous. The engine itself still feels great and is happy to rev and will even complete the 0-100km/h dash in 9.6 seconds while using a claimed 5.9 litres/100km - a figure, which I was not able to replicate.

As you may have picked up, I wasn’t exactly impressed with the interior, exterior and drive quality of the Ballade but then I noticed the amount of kit. Especially in the Elegance model I drove, which gets a seven-inch touch-screen Infotainment system with USB and Bluetooth, which also has gesture-based control including, tap-to-select, swipe-to-scroll, slide-to-move and pinch-to-zoom as well as an HDMI port, which allows for images, video and audio data to be accessed from compatible smartphones and devices. 

You also get air-conditioning, electric windows, electric folding mirrors, remote central locking, multifunction steering and cruise control, from the Civic. Then, on the safety front, you get six airbags, active head restraints, Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA), Hill Start Assist and even a multi-angle rear-view camera.

In summation, the new Ballade doesn’t really feel like a Honda in terms of quality, bar the engine, but at the same time that badge and the standard features combined with the price is very hard to ignore, meaning the Ballade is still worth consideration within its segment.

The Honda Ballade 1.5 Elegance retails for R220 990 which includes a three-year/100 000km warranty and a four-year/60 000km service plan.

Article written by Sean Nurse
16.09.2014
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