All-new class leading 2nd generation Honda Ballade presents a dynamic mix of value, space, performance and comfort
- Major improvements to segment-leading compact sedan
- Superior interior execution adds to strong value proposition
- Exceptional occupant space and generous luggage compartment
- Class-leading active and passive safety attributes
- Improved drivetrain achieves gains in efficiency and performance
- Advanced touch-screen interface for Elegance models a segment first
- Three years after the new-generation Ballade was launched in South Africa, Honda Motor Southern Africa has released an all-new, second-generation Ballade.
The 2014 Ballade ups the ante at every level: from its streamlined shape and even more spacious interior to exceptional safety standards, improved dynamics and greater efficiency. At the same time, the new-generation Ballade continues Honda’s long-established reputation for quality, longevity and reliability. The Ballade also offers an extended list of standard features across its two specification levels, many of which entrench the Honda’s class-leading status in this segment.
Already Honda’s best-selling sedan in SA, this latest Ballade is expected to attract an even greater number of buyers seeking a vital mix of value, space and performance.
Crucially, the Ballade doesn’t rely on older-generation technology, and delivers several innovations, including an all-new Constantly Variable Transmission (CVT) featuring Honda’s Earth Dreams technology, as well as a touch screen-based infotainment system that offers an array of powerful features.
While the new Ballade may appear to be derived from the previous model, only 14 percent of the 2011 version’s sheet metal has actually been carried over. The newcomer has similar proportions, but is in fact slightly longer and taller. The wheelbase has been extended by more than the increase in overall length, creating a shorter front overhang, and a more spacious interior.
Strongly emphasised style lines create a more powerful, more confident side-on appearance, while the rear treatment continues to underscore the smooth flow of the Ballade’s design.
At 4 400 mm, the new Ballade is 45 mm longer than the previous model, while the wheelbase has grown by 50 mm to 2 600 mm. The new sedan’s height of 1 475 mm is also 5 mm taller, while vehicle width remains the same. The result is a car that looks fresh and modern, with a powerfully communicated presence and a strong identity.
The Ballade already enjoys an enviable reputation for exceptional space and comfort, but Honda’s engineers have been able to achieve further improvements to the cabin.
The longer wheelbase allows an even more spacious, class-leading interior, and a generous luggage compartment. Rear accommodation exceeds expectations, and is comparable with upper-D segment sedans – particularly impressive considering the Ballade’s compact wheelbase.
In fact, the new Ballade features the compact exterior dimensions typical of a B-segment sedan, but employs the extended wheelbase more typical of a C-segment model. The result is class-leading interior space, with significant gains in shoulder room, as well as rear knee and legroom. The boot capacity has increased to 536 litres, and also offers a wider aperture to ease access, including a lower loading sill.
Three power points allow smartphone or device charging from all four seating positions, while there is also generous provision for storage spaces, including a glove compartment, front and rear cup holders, door panels with stowage pockets, and a lidded binnacle between the front seats.
The drivetrain of the new Ballade appears similar to that of the outgoing model, but as the statistics prove, it delivers more pep, better efficiency and lower emissions. The engine is still a 1,5-litre four-cylinder unit, and the output figures have remained at 88 kW and 145 Nm respectively.
Innovative solutions such as reduced internal friction, weight reduction and Honda’s own i-VTEC variable valve timing system, together with the Ballade’s more aerodynamic shape, have allowed significant improvements in performance, fuel consumption and emissions.
Maximum torque is reached at a lower rev count, creating a flatter torque curve and improved in-gear response, which in turn assists the Ballade in posting faster sprint times. Also new is a latest-generation Constantly Variable Transmission (CVT) with seven ‘virtual’ gears, which allow it to make the most of the engine’s urge.
The CVT unit’s design is a direct result of Honda’s Earth Dreams initiative, which seeks to create intelligently engineered, efficient technologies that also deliver environmental benefits. Thus, the CVT’s reduced weight and greater efficiency result in reduced fuel consumption, and reduced emissions.
In the upmarket Elegance, the CVT is equipped with shift paddles, allowing incisive gear shifts and greater control. The CVT itself also features enhanced responses and user-friendliness, thanks to technical improvements such as stiffer belt tension, improved CVT fluid characteristics, and a stronger pump. Honda’s Econ button on the CVT model, adjusts throttle mapping, shift patterns and cruise control operation.
DYNAMICS AND FUEL EFFICIENCY
The new Ballade performs more eagerly than before, while achieving improved levels of efficiency in the process. Manual-transmission models accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 9,6 sec, which is 0,2 quicker than the outgoing model. Top speed is 185 km/h.
The new CVT gearbox-equipped Ballade achieves even greater improvement with its 0-100 km/h acceleration time of 11,1 sec, trimming almost a second from the previous, automatic gearbox-equipped model’s sprint time. Top speed increases to 190 km/h.
Combined cycle fuel economy also shows significant improvements, compared to the previous-generation Ballade. The manual version achieves a combined-cycle consumption figure of 5,9 litres/100 km*, while the CVT model is slightly more economical, at 5,8 litres/100 km*.
CHASSIS AND SUSPENSION
The latest Honda Ballade platform has achieved a significant reduction in mass, together with enhanced torsional rigidity, and a revised independent front suspension.
The latter continues to employ the proven MacPherson strut system, but features a new configuration to optimise damping, stability and road manners. As before, the independent front suspension is combined with a space-saving torsion beam at the rear.
Much effort has also gone into the power assistance of the rack and pinion steering system. While the energy-efficient electric power steering has been retained, the power steering motor has been moved closer to the steering wheel, and away from the steering rack, for improved feel and feedback.
The result is a Ballade that is easy to drive, thanks to its stable road manners and high comfort levels, but is also responsive to enthusiastic driver inputs.
The new Ballade offers class-leading levels of active and passive safety. The new sedan is equipped with six airbags – front, side and curtain – as well as seat belts with pre-tensioners and load limiters. Active head restraints are standard, too.
Another segment first is the introduction of Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) as standard across the Ballade range. VSA incorporates both traction control and electronic stability control, assisting the driver in maintaining control, even in extreme situations.
Honda has also included Hill Start Assist to the Ballade’s feature set, making starts on an incline easier and safer by preventing the vehicle from rolling back.
The Ballade body construction employs Honda’s G-Con (G-Force Control) technology, which uses pre-programmed deformation patterns to manage the forces of a collision through the Ballade’s body, as well as the forces exerted on the occupants during a collision, and onto pedestrians in the case of a pedestrian accident.
A further innovation fitted to the new Ballade Elegance is a multi-angle rear-view camera. When reverse gear is selected, the camera view is displayed on the car’s touch-screen display. The camera angle can be adjusted to change perspective, assisting with parking.
The camera incorporates a dynamic guidance function that displays yellow guide lines while reversing to indicate the area into which the vehicle is being reversed. The lines change as the steering wheel angle is changed to show the area being reversed towards.
As part of the thoroughly updated interior, the Ballade Trend model gets an all-new audio system with integrated USB and Bluetooth. The list of standard equipment is comprehensive, and also includes air-conditioning, electric windows, electric folding mirrors, and remote central locking.
The Elegance version takes the already comprehensive Trend package up a further notch by introducing a multifunction steering wheel that follows the Civic steering wheel’s design, and incorporates control of the cruise control, Bluetooth and audio functions.
However, the most eye-catching addition to the Elegance execution is the fitment of a seven-inch touchscreen display with icon-based graphical user interface. It offers an intuitive interface for the car’s infotainment system, including audio functionality and Bluetooth telephony.
The touchscreen interface emulates smartphone screen functionality by offering gesture-based control (including tap to select, swipe to scroll, slide to move and pinch to zoom) for more intuitive ease of use.
In addition, the infotainment system is fitted with an HDMI port. HDMI allows images, video and audio data to be accessed from compatible smartphones and devices (such as iPads and tablets) and displayed on the Ballade’s screen.
Aftermarket applications can be used to add useful functionality – turn-by-turn navigation, for instance, or monitoring a wide range of vehicle system parameters using an optional wireless adapter linked to the car’s diagnostic port.
COLOURS AND PRICING
The new Honda Ballade will be offered in a choice of six colours, of which three are metallics, while two are pearl-effect hues. They are Taffeta White, Alabaster Silver Metallic, Urban Titanium Metallic, Golden Brown Metallic, Carnelian Red Pearl, and Crystal Black Pearl.
Sales of the Honda Ballade start in June through all authorised Honda automotive dealers countrywide. The pricing includes a three-year/100 000 km warranty, a four-year/60 000 km service plan, and one-year roadside assistance. Recommended retail prices are:
Honda Ballade 1.5 Trend R195 900
Honda Ballade 1.5 Trend CVT R210 500
Honda Ballade 1.5 Elegance R220 990
Honda Ballade 1.5 Elegance CVT R235 590