2022 Honda Ballade RS 1,5 CVT
Has the updated Ballade upheld the reputation of its longstanding nameplate? Here are our findings after a three-month test.
The Ballade nameplate is old and familiar. The first-ever Honda to wear the badge was launched in 1980 to compete against like-minded sedans from Toyota and Nissan. It featured electric windows all round (a big thing in its day), electric and heated wing mirrors, which are still in vogue; front disc brakes and power-assisted steering.
Although that car had many names in overseas markets, in South Africa, it was known as the Ballade. In fact, it was built in South Africa by the local subsidiary of Daimler-Benz, which wanted a smaller and cheaper addition to the usual Mercedes-Benz line-up and it was sold through the Mercedes-Benz dealership channel. If you follow the lineage, the Ballade has a luxury-lined history of sorts. In recent years that seems to have shifted, though, as it and the Civic have reversed roles. The Civic is the large family sedan with premium tendencies. Despite its high-spec overtones, first and foremost, the Ballade iscompact, affordable runabout and one which balances these two intentions brilliantly, as we came to find out over our three months with it.
Step inside and therein lies its promise of a high-quality interior. Body-hugging leather seats, an intuitive and responsive touchscreen infotainment system allied to a semi-digital dash, teamed with a leather steering wheel, cushy armrests on the door cards and a large sunroof to set it apart from rivals like the Toyota Corolla Quest you read about in our comparative test earlier.
Of course, the equivalent Quest undercuts this car by $50,000 but those touches help lift it over the more workmanlike cabin of the Toyota. It is inherently Honda on the inside, in that the placement of everything is logical and all the controls fall easily to hand.
Nothing is an inconvenience; storage spaces are plentiful and the important touchpoints are pleasingly soft-edged. All this has made the Ballade a comfortable chariot to step into after a tiring day at the office.
Aiding those high levels of comfort is the well-judged suspension. A supple spring rate accompanied by plenty of tyre sidewall ensure a smooth ride over the most uncomfortable surfaces. Naturally, body roll sends it regards, but this is no sportscar, despite that RS (for Road Sailing) badge.
However, it’s under the bonnet where the Honda story takes a turn. The 89 kW/145 N.m 1,5-litre four pot has little in the way of low-down torque and after stepping out of something with a turbocharger, it feels a little lacklustre at building speed. This becomes apparent when in a hurry as noise builds in the cabin with minimal forward propulsion but, take a chill pill, as the youngsters say, back off the pace to commuting speeds and you soon realise what’s on offer is more than fi t for purpose. The levels of noise when pushing on at highway speeds is something we noted in previous write-ups; the key is to not ask too much of the drivetrain. A little more sound insulation behind the firewall would go a long way to help.
These all amount to something, and in plain English, that something is a car not perfect by any stretch but one that deals with its task wonderfully. Over the past three months, we’ve used the Ballade for just about everything. Unfortunately, some of the planned camping trips to yonder side of the Hottentots Holland mountains fell through. Despite this, everything from beach days to the dreaded commute was made possible by this humble sedan. Almost all of the CAR team have procured the keys at one time or another and not once has the Honda had to apologise or compensate for anything. The Ballade has taken it all in its stride and we’ve enjoyed every moment with it in the fleet.
It would be safe to say, as we part with this excellent long-termer, that the updated Ballade has upheld its reputation as an affordable sedan that’ll get you from A to B with all the comfort and convenience you’ll ever need … and maybe a sprinkle more.
My favourite Moment The palpable jump in interior quality of the Honda Ballade after climbing out of the closely matched Toyota Corolla Quest – Ray Leathern
months 11 856 km 7,20 L/100 km
+ leather interior trim, clear and concise displays
— lack of refinement, strangled engine
- Oil filter: $88,96
- Air filter: $44,94
- Brake pads (front): $37,35
- Left headlamp: $1193,25
- Windscreen: $911,27
- Tyre: $306,00
- LOG BOOK
- Fuel used petrol
- Top-up oil used nil
- Tread remaining (front/rear) 89/92 % 6,50 L/100 km
- Best consumption 8,80 L/100 km
- Worst consumption 7,20 L/100 km
- Average consumption
- Fuel & top-up cost $962,78
- Cost per mile $0,20
- Purchase price then $36,900
- Purchase price now $36,100
- Second-hand value $29,500