By BRENWIN NAIDU
THE Honda Ballade has managed to attain legendary status in the South African motoring market – any observer will know this. It’s sitting up there with other much-loved icons, like the Volkswagen Golf and Toyota Corolla -models that were popular in every iteration released throughout the years. Honda in general tend to have an extremely faithful following – I noticed this on DSTV’s Ignition channel, when a special initiative ran, getting local owners to showcase their beloved Hondas.
The Ballade was popular not only as a means of daily transport – you know, just getting from A to B – but also among that group who enjoy modifying their rides: those fast and furious types. If you’ve ever had a go with game titles like Gran Turismo of Need For Speed, you probably know what I’m talking about – one can execute some really tasty modifications to their Civic – as it is known in some markets – in the digital realm of the Playstation.
Even in reality, Ballade owners have tricked-out their cars, enhancing the aesthetics and boosting performance. The VTEC is particularly coveted by fans of the Honda marque. Having asked a Honda enthusiast friend as to why the VTEC is regarded in such high esteem, I received a miniature lecture on the merits of its reliability and performance.
It seems as though Honda are keeping things little more mature and upmarket with their latest Ballade model – a name that has been collecting dust on the motoring scene until now. Looks are a subjective thing, but I think Honda’s new Ballade is a handsome car – if a tad bland. Up front, it’s got a face keeping in line with the rest of the newer Honda models. The alloy wheels on the more top-of-range model are striking and finish the car off quite nicely.
The tech list underneath the skin of the Ballade includes, Electronic Power Steering (EPS), Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA), Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD) and Emergency Brake Assist (EBA). So, you certainly are not short of acronyms.
A 1.5-litre i-VTEC engine features throughout the Ballade range. It renders an output of 88-kilowatts and 145 Newton-metres of torque. A 0 to 100 km/h sprint is promised in 9.8 seconds. There are two models to choose from, the Comfort and Elegance. With the Comfort, you get a decent amount of standard kit thrown in as standard – cruise control, multi-function steering wheel, electric windows for front and rear, and even a USB and MP3 connection, through which you could jam tunes from your iPod or music player. It’s a pretty decent list, if you ask me. The Elegance adds touches like attractive alloy wheels, chrome door handles and a leather-trimmed steering wheel.
Expect to pay around R184 900 for the 1.5 Comfort Manual and R205 900 for the 1.5 Elegance