Honda is a brand well known for reliability, durability and character and enjoys a strong heritage in the local South African market. Expanded dimensions and proportions make it more than just a facelift version but a whole new model.
The Ballades’ new design (or redesign) is a vast improvement on its predecessor. For one it has larger and more modish dimensions. The sleek design pitches the nose below the bonnet line (compatible with the windscreen and rooftop) in a darting-forward posture; equated with scowling head-lights, chrome grill cross bar (detail on the Honda badge); air splitters on the lip of the bumper – trademarks of aerodynamic engineering.
A balance between functionality and form: a select choice infotainment system display screen; radio/front loader CD shuttle; two USB ports; Bluetooth H.F.T connectivity integrated and accessible via the multifunction steering wheel. Blue spherical lighting orbiting the speedometer adds an opulent appeal. A slightly out-dated looking gear-knob; oddly positioned emergency amber switch and the beige rear-windshield panel – seem outmoded within context of a modish interior theme. The missing inner-lining of the boot-lid is an eyesore of exposed cabling and metal work; as if it was a forgotten fixture on the assembly line. Seats are covered in plush fabric; ergonomic and comfortable back seats with lots of leg room – a real godsend for taller passengers.
Nothing spectacular to report from a performance stand-point. The Ballade houses a 1.5L high revving I-VTEC engine delivering 88Kw of power@6600RPM and 145Nm of torque@4600RPM, which is mounted closer to the dash. Reverse camera is available, but only in the Elegance range. Handling is superb – you need not hesitate accelerate through a corner if you have to – active safety features such as ABS with EBD, EBA and VSA will help get you to grips with the car’s yaw motion. Front Ventilated Discs / Rear Drum provide ample brake force in the event of a panic stop – even in the rainiest of weather.
Some features need attention to justify the price and for relevant status in a highly competitive segment. Honda’s new Ballade is an upgrade from the Jazz as far as space is concerned but still lurks in the shadow of the Honda Civic-Yet! still offers safety and real peace of mind for family commuting.