Iconic sedan now even better
The return of the Honda Ballade nameplate to South Africa in February 2011 was a particularly significant event for Honda Motor Southern Africa, because the original Ballade established Honda as a passenger car brand in SA.
In the process, it cemented Honda’s reputation for class-leading style, performance, quality and unrivalled customer satisfaction. The new-generation Ballade has retained those attributes of a 21st Century package, while placing new emphasis on environmental responsibility, and value for money.
The 2012 Honda Ballade is set to underscore the core values of the nameplate even more convincingly. This latest version remains essentially unchanged under the skin, with the focus on sharper aesthetics, revised interior trim, and detail changes to the standard specification.
Marrying a strong road presence to compact dimensions, the sedan’s relatively long wheelbase continues to ensure class-leading interior space, linked to exceptional ease-of-use and manoeuvrability.
The styling displays a clear resemblance to Honda’s other contemporary offerings. Its smooth profile is emphasised by the progressive flow of the roofline, the raised rear deck, and the smoothly sculpted surfaces.
The 2012 Ballade benefits from a series of subtle changes to the exterior, without compromising the essence of the design. These include revised front and rear bumpers, a new grille, and bolder headlights. The result is a keener, sportier look.
Subtle improvements have also been made to the 2012 Honda Ballade’s cabin. These include slight changes to the standard specification, as well as a revised array of upholstery colours and finishes. The result is even smarter and upmarket than before.
As before, efficient use of the available space in the embracing cabin has allowed class-leading levels of interior comfort. This is matched to a high degree of sophistication in terms of build quality, materials used, creature comforts and overall refinement.
Versatility remains a further key trait of the new Ballade. Aside from being able to accommodate five adults in comfort, it boasts an impressive array of innovative storage areas and, most notably, a 506-litre boot which outclasses even most executive sedans.
TECHNOLOGY HONDA BALLADE
Underscoring the ground-breaking packaging solutions developed for this new model is a strong and rigid monocoque body. The result is a supple ride that easily absorbs road imperfections, while also ensuring top-notch handling characteristics and superior stability at high speed.
A MacPherson strut-based suspension is employed in front, using an optimised configuration to aid straight-line stability, while an H-shaped torsion beam rear suspension provides the ideal balance between comfort and solid handling.
In the interests of optimum efficiency and control, the Ballade features high-capacity Electronic Power Steering (EPS) with intelligent control to deliver an accurate and natural steering feel throughout the entire speed range.
As expected, safety is out of the top drawer too, featuring Honda’s Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body. This ensures enhanced overall occupant protection and reduced vehicle damage in the event of a collision.
Numerous energy-absorbing structures have been integrated into the design. Front, side and curtain airbags are fitted as standard on all models.
Active safety is taken to new heights by including Honda’s Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) as standard, thus providing the full spectrum of traction and stability control for optimum driving safety in all conditions.
This is bolstered by the latest-generation ABS braking system with Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD) and Emergency Brake Assist (EBA).
DRIVETRAIN HONDA BALLADE
The Ballade employs the renowned 1,5-litre i-VTEC unit also found in the award-winning Jazz. It uses sophisticated drive-by-wire electronic throttle control and achieves superb all-round performance, impressive fuel efficiency and a high level of environmental compatibility.
The four-cylinder benefits from Honda’s vast experience in i-VTEC technology, intelligently adjusts intake valve timing and valve lift settings to meet the requirements of both low and high-speed driving.
Producing a credible 88 kW of power at 6 600 r/min and an equally impressive 145 Nm of torque at 4 800 r/min, the Ballade rewards with eager performance in both
standard five-speed manual and advanced five-speed automatic. The auto gearbox was specifically developed to deliver powerful acceleration from pull-off, as well as immediate response to accelerator kick-down.
SWIFT DYNAMICS HONDA BALLADE
The sporty demeanour of the automatic gearbox is further entrenched by the adoption of a paddle-shift system for manual gearshift intervention on the top-spec Elegance model. There’s also a choice of three driving modes: D (Drive) for normal driving, S (Sport) for more responsive performance, and a sequential manual mode.
In the case of the five-speed manual, the Ballade is capable of sprinting from 0 to 100 km/h in 9,8 sec, while attaining a top speed of 185 km/h. Combined cycle fuel consumption is a mere 6,3 l/100 km, with a correspondingly low CO2 emissions rating of just 148 g/km (6,6 l/100 km and 156 g/km for the auto respectively).
THE RANGE HONDA BALLADE
As before, the Ballade is offered in two specification levels: Comfort and Elegance. The former already offer an impressive list of standard features, ensuring a high degree of comfort and value. Elegance versions up the ante by including additional comfort, convenience and safety features.
Even the entry-level 1.5 Comfort boasts an exceptional specification that translates into unrivalled value for money.
The features list includes a tilt-adjustable steering wheel, cruise control, front and rear electric windows, electrically adjustable door mirrors, manual air-conditioning with cabin filter, flat-folding rear seats (60/40 split) and a trip computer.
Entertainment on the move is provided by a full-featured four-speaker audio system on comfort models and six-speaker on Elegance models. The CD receiver is equipped with an integrated USB port, and an MP3 auxiliary connection. Bluetooth for hands-free cellphone use is standard, too.
Also on the list are dual front, side and curtain airbags, Isofix child seat anchors, a full-size spare wheel, a factory-fitted alarm system linked to remote central locking and rolling-code ECU engine immobiliser.
The 1.5 Elegance reflects an even more upmarket look and feel with the addition of 16-inch alloy wheels, front fog lights and chrome door handles.
Similarly, the already feature-packed interior gains a more exclusive edge with the fitment of a leather-trimmed multi-function steering wheel that offers tilt and telescopic adjustment, centre and rear armrests, and a practical rear seat under-tray storage area.
The remote central locking system has an auto-lock function which locks the doors above a certain speed, while selective door locking is also standard.
PRICING HONDA BALLADE
1.5 Comfort Manual R 184,900.00
1.5 Comfort Auto R 196,900.00
1.5 Elegance Manual R 197,800.00
1.5 Elegance Auto R 210,000.00
Prices include a four-year/60 000 km Service Plan, and three-year/100 000 km Warranty. Service intervals are every 15 000 km.