Just over 40 years after launching their first Honda Ballade, which was a South African favourite all the way until the early 90s, Honda has given us the 2021 Honda Ballade. A clear upgrade from the previous model, we marvel at the panelling, lighting and futuristic grill of the Ballade ahead of making our first entry into the car. The expectations are high.
Stepping into the 2021 Ballade, we’re welcomed by the 8 inch Touchscreen infotainment system, we activate the technology by engaging the push engine start/stop button. The fresh additions to the cockpit experience are impressive. Connecting the phone is easy, whilst the car does allow for Bluetooth connectivity, we opt for the USB connection that activates Apple CarPlay for a more immersive and personalised media and communication experience (Android Auto is also available in the Ballade).
There is also an option for USB-C connection, making sure you’re covered if you are connecting with the latest cable connectivity technology. As we select our favourite playlist before take off, we notice a slight smudging on the Touchscreen, which may be frustrating over time, nothing a dry cloth can’t fix.
The multifunction steering wheel puts you in charge of the music/media elements, as well as the speed of the car, with the addition of standard cruise control functionality. The driver also has electronic control of all windows, which also have their own individual electric controls. Honda really wants to make sure that we keep our hands on the steering wheel with steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles that accompany the improved CVT transmission. They’ve clearly pulled out all the stops to know range leaders like the Toyota Corolla off their pedestals.
Song selected, engine started, we engage the automatic gears, as we reverse we notice the music lowering in volume, what’s that beeping sound? It’s the Ballade’s PDC (parking distance control) which comes standard with all 3 ranges of the vehicle. The more time we spend in the car the more impressed we become, and our expectations were already set high.
The drive is smooth, although the engine is a little loud (not in a good way) and it struggles up hills and steep roads. The overall performance of the 1.5l engine is decent, kicking out 89 kW and 145 Nm. The car comes with an Eco driving mode, helping you manage and improve your fuel efficiency as you drive.
Having arrived at our destination at sunset, we’ve kept the lights on and we could see clearly thanks to the advanced LED headlights accompanied by LED fog lights, which are reminiscent of the 2019 BMW 3 Series.
The comfortable and technologically capable experience is thoroughly enjoyable throughout our few days with this simple but impressive stunner.
Ball-ADE Meter – What’s Top grADE and what needs First-ADE?
- Keyless Stop/Start Engine;
- Standard Rear PDC;
- Multifunction Steering wheel with adjustable limit Cruise Control;
- Touchscreen Infotainment System with Apple Carplay and Android Auto;
- Eco Driving Mode;
- 5-year/200 000 km warranty, 4-year/60 000 km service plan;
- Vanity Mirrors for both driver and passenger
- All 3 models come in a not so impressive 1.5l engine;
- No anti-fingerprint/smudge technology on the touchscreen;
- No wireless charging, with all the technology in the car, wireless cellphone charging would be the cherry on top.
Overall the 2020 Honda Ballade is a top tier Baller needing very little “ade” as it becomes a serious contender for the best economy sedan available in the country.
It’s also reasonably priced, with the respective models going for:
1.5 Comfort CVT – R336 500
1.5 Elegance CVT – R366 900
1.5 RS CVT – R396 900
You might also like
More from Cars
Brand identity is a tricky thing to get right. If the third-generation Ranger had a problem, it was that it …