A hero returns

By admin
18 March 2011

Twenty-nine years ago Honda launched a family sedan that wasreasonablypriced, well-specced and offered practicality,

quality, space and reliability.

South Africans bought 171 000 Ballades through its five generations before the name was dropped in favour of the more international Civic tag in the late 1990s.

Now the Ballade is back. Slotting in below the current Civic range, which is slightly bigger and more upmarket, the new

version is built in Thailand and sold in 25 countries as the Honda City.

Using the platform and 88 kW 1,5-litre engine from the Honda Jazz, the Ballade targets Ford Fiesta/Mazda sedan buyers and is an option for buyers who’d otherwise consider a slightly larger but lower-specced car.

The first noticeable feature inside is the abundance of space for front and rear passengers – and the boot holds a whopping 506 litres.

The dashboard has fuss-free and easy-to-read dials and buttons, although the centre console is made of shiny silver plastic – black would have been so much classier. The engine is mated to a slick-shifting fivespeed manual transmission, although Comfort and Elegance models can be ordered with a five-speed autobox.

On the open road the Ballade feels zippy, with the rev-happy 1,5-litre engine eager to please but fading somewhat while overtaking – something to think about when a family of four heads for the power-sapping hills of the Highveld.

Other than that it’s hard to beat as an all-round package. All models carry a three-year/100 000 km warranty and a fouryear/60 000 km service plan. Little wonder in 2009 it was voted Indian and Indonesian Car of the Year.

We expect it to make the shortlist of SA nominees for 2012.

Performance: 0-100 km/h in 9,8-12,2 seconds (model-dependent); top speed 185 km/h; fuel consumption 6,3-6,6 litres/100 km (model-dependent)

Verdict: Veritable value

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