Vehicle Reviews

2013 Honda Ballade 1.5, Elegance

Honda Ballade

When I think of Honda products I think of the Civic hatch, the Type R, the Accord and the CRV to name a few, all of which I associate adjectives like ‘fluid design, quality craftsmanship, solidity and impressive’. I however find myself battling to pin any of the above descriptions to the Ballade.

Purely based on the fact that the Ballade is a Honda, will my negative perceptions change?


As with most Honda products, specifically with regards to the Ballade, styling cues are in no way out of this world but do however offer simple and mature design elements.

The shutter shaped front grille which extends fluidly through to the headlight clusters does indeed give the Ballade a sense of purpose. This I find to be the most influential part of the vehicle’s presence. The Ballade’s side profile is accompanies by a deep extended crease through to the rear wheels. The roofline picks up from a sharp ascending A-pillar which graciously extends to the rear which most certainly gives of the impression that there is ample space within the vehicle.

The rear end of the vehicle has a practical look to it, nothing out of the ordinary and doesn’t offer a positive ending to my take on the vehicles styling cues. Nothing great nor sporty or even dynamique looking but for those wanting to purchase the Ballade are most probably looking for simplicity and practicality which does offer good pricing.


The interior does offer more character than that of the exterior. The interior is spacious but the materials used do seem to detract from what Honda is all about…good quality feel. Nothing out of the ordinary stands out…the centre instrument cluster is well positioned and the instruments are simply laid out and made up of largish switchgear and buttons.

The Elegance model also has a multifunction leather steering wheel, cruise control, air conditioning, radio and CD, USB and MP3 input functions and Bluetooth. So there may be some quality issues in the interior but the Ballade makes up for this in the tech arena and which is very welcoming considering the overall package and price.

A further convenience to back seat passengers, along with the spacious roof line, will be the convenient cupholder armrest…but obviously requires two rear passengers to enjoy your beverage. The seats in general were mediocre and felt that more supportive seats could have added an extra positive touch.


The Elegance model tested was the manual but is also offered in an automatic version. The vehicle is powered by a 1.5 litre i-VTEC engine mated to a 5 speed transmission.

The Ballade delivers 88KW at 6600r/min and develops 145Nm of torque. Acceleration from 0-100km/h takes 10 seconds and will reach a maximum speed of 185km/h

Although I did not expect much I did find the Ballade’s ride compliant at urban cruising speeds but wofty at highway speeds. This is expected however.

Cruising on the expressway was comfortable don’t get me wrong, but enter into a corner at an average speed and soon your confidence will be tested. I in no way expected the Ballade to perform in the handling and performance arena, noting that it is a good value compact family sedan but felt that with Honda quality build and technology, that the Ballade would have offered a better drive. Potholes and bumpy ride surface were dealt with smoothly by the Ballade and offered a generally average drive.

Honda claim an average combined fuel consumption of 6.3 litres/100km and I found that this is achievable when cruising in the high gear ratios.

On the safety front, the Ballade sports ABS, EBD, VSA, EBA, dual front, side and curtain airbags. The Ballade also incorporates ACE (Advanced Compatibility Engineering body) technology which when during a crash focuses on distributing the resulting forces through a high strength chassis rail which ultimately protects the passengers.


With the price at just under R200,000.00, the Ballade does indeed have a few tricks up its sleeve. Not only is the vehicle fuel efficient, kitted out with safety features and good value for money but within this price bracket there is a sense of quality and safety associated with the Ballade. As with all Honda’s, one would know that the Ballade will be a reliable companion for years to come.

The Ballade does come with a 3 year/100 000km Warranty, 4 year/60 000km Service Plan.