BRIAN BASSETT boots up the new Honda Ballade Executive
HONDA first introduced the Ballade in 1980, when Mercedes-Benz were custodians of the brand in South Africa and status-conscious owners referred to their purchases as Mercedes Hondas.
The Ballade is known as the “City” in its Indian home market and in South Africa the Ballade is to Honda what the Corolla is to Toyota.
The Ballade is based on the underpinnings of the MPVlike Jazz and I cannot help sometimes thinking of it as a booted Jazz.
In 2015, the Executive version of the Ballade was introduced as a result of customer demand and new features were added to the extensive list of the Elegance.
We offer our appreciation to Gary Stokes, dealer principal of Honda Fury, Pietermaritzburg, for allowing us to drive the car for a few days. at the touch of a button for added visibility and safety. It also has chromed door handles that underline the Ballades’ smart appearance. All windows are electrically operated. The entire design, while conservative, is well executed and the result is a good-looking car. The interior is unexpectedly spacious and, thanks to ample rear leg and head room, will take four adults in singular comfort. The seating is covered in robust leather and the front seats are adjustable.
The driver’s seat can also be raised or lowered. The plastics are tactile and robust, while build quality is of the best. Like the Jazz, the Ballade is unlikely to rattle, whatever the road surface. The boot offers a generous 536 litres of space.
The leather-covered rakeand-reach steering operates the six-speaker radio/AUX/CD system and three different plugs take care of all your technology needs.
The multi-function steering also offers toggles to operate all infotainment, cruise control and Bluetooth functions. The dashboard is simple, almost minimalistic, and the analogue gauges, surrounded by a pleasant blue light, are supplemented by a digital panel showing trip measurement, fuel consumption and exterior temperature.
In an era that has seen smartphone culture increasingly intertwined with car ownership, there has been a rapid proliferation of in-car touchscreen interfaces.
In the Ballade, the seveninch touchscreen dominates the central stack and has large icons, as well as scroll and zoom devices that recognise the user’s tap and access a wide range of information.
The HDMI port allows the downloading of content from smart devices, including navigation. All of which makes the Ballade ideal for tech-savvy buyers on a budget. The Ballade Executive has a class-leading range of safety features.
The usual ABS with EBD, six front, side and curtain air bags, seat belts with pre-tensioners and load limiters , Isofix anchorages, Vehicle Stability Assist, Hill Start Assist, Emergency Brake Assist and a reverse-view camera, which offers both a dynamic trajectory display and oblique kerb view. Many of these features one would not expect on a vehicle with B-segment price positioning. The Ballade Executive also has a factory-fitted security system. The Ballade Executive’s tried and tested, 1.5-litre iVTEC, four-cylinder, 88 kW/145 Nm, fuel-injected petrol engine will take you from 0 to 100 km/h in around 12 seconds.
The five-speed manual gear box is easy and pleasant to operate. and the steering is direct and the drive enjoyable.
In town, the car parks easily and has sufficient power to move you out of trouble quickly. On the N3, there is enough power to pass long loads safely and the Ballade Executive cruises easily at 120 km/h, but moves quickly to 140 km/h if the driver is not careful.
Top speed is around 180 km/h and expect around seven litres per 100 km of fuel consumption in the combined cycle. The car also performs well on district roads and even at speed handles damp road surfaces with ease.
The Ballade is not, however, an off-road vehicle and it is much more comfortable on a conventional tarred surface than on rutted, muddy roads.
The Ballade Executive is a solid, conservative family sedan which, with the many features that are packed into it, serves the needs of most modern motorists. The Ballade Executive manual comes in at about R280 000, while the automatic will cost you around R300 000.
The car comes with a threeyear/100 000 km manufacturer’s guarantee and a fouryear or 60 000 km service plan.
The car we drove was a 2016 model with 18 000 km on the clock. The asking price is R225 000 — so a saving of R55 000 for just a few months of ownership.
Current economic circumstances truly make it an auto buyer’s market.
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