2014 Honda Ballade 1.5 Review

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After attending the launch of the all-new Honda Ballade earlier this year, it was time to evaluate it for a week. What is the 2014 Honda Ballade really like?

Engine and economy

Powering the 2014 Honda Ballade is the same 1.5 naturally-aspirated four-cylinder motor as its predecessor. While there have been some tweaks to the powerplant for slightly improved economy, it still feels same old, same old. In typical Honda fashion, you'll need to give it a healthy dose of revs to get all that torque out which will affect the fuel economy.

As far as figures go, you're looking at outputs of 88 kW and 145 Nm, while Honda claims a fuel consumption figure of 5.9l/100km. We weren't able to match that and our test route saw mid-7s appear on the read-out. Still, not bad going.

Specification and space

Specification and space is where the 2014 Honda Ballade really shines the most. Space for a small-looking sedan is commendable and what's especially handy is the boot dimensions. It may share the same platform as the forthcoming Honda Jazz, but that's not stopping it from boasting generous rear legroom even for taller folk.

The 2014 Honda Ballade Elegance receives a built-in infotainment system featuring USB and Bluetooth connectivity. There's a neat 180 mm colour touchscreen and the clever software allows you to connect your Apple and Android smartphone and use the phone's features via the car. If you have a navigation application such as Google Maps, you could use this instead of forking out for a Garmin or TomTom unit.

Also thrown into the mix is a reverse camera, cruise control, two USB ports, HDMI port as well as some solid safety features like six airbags and vehicle stability assist, which is a form of traction control.

Summary and conclusion

It's not a bad drive, but I do wonder how Honda can offer such contrasting products. The Civic Hatch on one hand offers wonderful Europeanesque styling and features which are premium look and feel, yet on the other hand the Ballade has some distinctly budget touches. The inside of the bootlid has no carpeting for instance and it sounds cheap and nasty when closing. There are a couple of other interior pieces which are plasticky to the touch. This seems to be a common trait among cars built in India...

The competition in this segment is fierce. Value for money and brand power are key here, and fortunately Honda ticks those boxes. That said, I think the Ballade could do with a couple more premium finish touches on the interior to justify its pricetag.

Second opinion

The improved Honda Ballade offering is just that, improved. It still has a few quality issues that need resolving, like sound insulation and interior material choices. Still not quite the Honda we were expecting. - Ashley Oldfield

2014 Honda Ballade Price in South Africa

The Honda Ballade 1.5 Elegance retails for R220 990, but there is a lower-specced Trend model for R195 900. Both versions come in a choice of manual or CVT. Included in the price is a three-year or 100 000 km warranty, a four-year or 60 000 km service plan and a year’s worth of free roadside assistance.

Honda Ballade 1.5 Elegance quick specs

Price  R220 990
Engine  1.5-litre four-cylinder
Power  88 kW
Torque  145 Nm
Transmission  Five-speed Manual
Wheels  15-inch alloys
0-100km/h  9.6 seconds (claimed)
Fuel economy  5.9 l/100 km (claimed)
We like: . Specification . Interior space

We dislike: . Some cheap touches not befitting of a R200k vehicle . Engine needs to be pushed to get the best from it, meaning reduced fuel economy

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