• The new Honda Ballade is now in its eighth generation.
• It still offers reliable motoring with a basic level of comfort.
• The Ballade is hard to fault for basic, reliable and honest mobility.
• For more motoring stories, visit Wheels24.
The world might have gone SUV crazy, but some sedans still ring a strong bell with most of us. Take, for instance, the Honda Ballade. Owing to its reliability, it has become a near cult status car in South Africa, with those cars from the 90s and early 2000s being tuned and used by boy racers across the country.
Although the motoring world is a different place versus two decades, the Ballade still offers what it did back then, reliable motoring with a basic level of comfort. Now in its eighth generation, the updated Honda Ballade (launched at the beginning of 2021) is still, like the previous version offered with a 1.5-litre, four-cylinder engine. It is connected to a CVT transmission and offers 89kW and 145Nm.
When you first lay your eyes on the car, you would be forgiven for also thinking that some Honda Amaze design details are visible, and you would be right, or is it the other way around? Needless, the front and rear do offer design elements of more expensive Hondas like the Civic as well. The boot is very spacious, and under the boot board is a large space saver spare wheel. I say large, as it is 175/55 R15 in size versus the car's 185/60 R15-sized tyres.
Climb in the rear, and you will be surprised by the space. Seating behind my ideal driving position (I'm 1.87-metres tall), I have more than enough legroom (with room left between my knees and the seat in front of me) and shoulder room. However, headroom is on the right side. There are no USB charging points for rear passengers, but there are two 12V sockets.
Move to the driving position, and the comfortable cloth seats and 8-inch infotainment screen start things off on a positive note. There are also several small storage areas at the front of the car, two USB sockets, and one 12V socket. To the right of these is a space to put your cell phone.
Behind the wheel
It was the ride quality that first impressed me. The Ballade's suspension and tyres offer a very plaint ride, while noise insulation is also good. During everyday driving, the CVT transmission does its job, keeping the revs as low as possible.
As expected, it is only during hard acceleration that the drivetrain gets noisy as the rev needle will momentarily rise to over 6 000rpm (the redline is at 6 800rpm). The result is that during the course of a week's driving and having covered 500km, the indicated average was 6.1-litres per 100km. This was on a mixture of lightly traffic roads, but also some highway and city driving.
That is a rather impressive figure which should lead to a tank-to-tank range of close to 650km considering the 40-litre fuel tank. Apart from the standard 'D' selection on the transmission, there is also an 'S' one below it. As is always the case here, this 'sporty' setting will keep the revs higher, allowing for a marginally more lively action from the drivetrain. My annoyance in the cabin was the platform on which the driver's seat is mounted.
As with most passenger cars, the mounting points for the seats are raised from the floor of the car. However, this platform protrudes too far forward from underneath the seat. The result is that when I want to relax my left foot and pull it back, this often stopped my leg from putting it in the same position I do in any other car.
During two emergency braking tests from 120km/h to zero, the Honda did it in 3.7 seconds. The car stayed stable during these braking tests and came to a good stop. During the acceleration run, it did it from standstill to 100m in 9.96 seconds.
The infotainment screen offers both Bluetooth connectivity, USB connectivity and a radio. To make use of the Apps, you need to connect your phone via a USB cable. There is a standard trip computer and useable cruise control. Sadly the rear seats can't be folded flat, but they have ISOFIX anchor points.
Priced at R375 400, the Honda is priced just under a competitor such as the Mazda3 sedan and higher than the larger Toyota Corolla Quest. However, you know you will get one of the most reliable cars (as its competitors). It is spacious, has all the necessary basic features and functions, and safety systems such as ABS brakes and ESP.
It might not be the most exciting car to drive, but it is hard to fault for basic, reliable and honest mobility.
*Tests conducted with Racelogic's VBOX Sport
Engine: 1.5-litre, in-line four-cylinder, petrol
Power: 89kW @ 6 600rpm
Torque: 145Nm @ 4 500rpm
Gears/Drive: CVT, front-wheel drive
Top speed: N/A
Fuel consumption: 5.5 L/100km (claimed)
Tyres: 185/60 R15 (front and rear)
Warranty: 5-years or 200 000km
Maintenance Plan: 4-years or 60 000km
Emergency brake test 1 (120-0 km/h): 3.71 seconds
Emergency brake test 2 (120-0 km/h): 3.70 seconds
0-60: 4.77 seconds
0-80: 7.05 seconds
0-100: 9.96 seconds
0-120: 13.65 seconds
0-140: 18.99 seconds
In-gear acceleration (km/h):
80-120: 6.60 seconds
100-140: 9.03 seconds
60-120: 8.88 seconds
Fuel consumption during test: