Honda SA launch 2 cars: the New Ballade and WR-V

Honda South Africa has just released two new models to their fleet. A new Ballade and a completely new “RV” model employing the letter W… the WR-V!

I had the absolute privilege to join a team of journalists over two days on the launch of these two new models from Honda. I thoroughly enjoyed the trip which started in a Ballade from Cape Town airport to Franschoek, and then back the next day in a WR-V.

On arrival at the airport, my driving partner Johann van Tonder and I both went for a red Ballade as we both prefer vibrant colours on our tweets!

1. New Honda Ballade:

Here in South Africa, the Ballade has formed part of the Honda fleet since 1982. With this new model, for the first time, it is getting an RS badge, but certainly not in the same form as others would employ it. No, the RS stands for Road Sailing and will give you the same 1.5 litre DOHC VTEC, but with different trim pieces in certain areas. I really like the trimming it comes with… and can imagine that the Cape Flats may add a turbo to that badge in years to come!

The new model has grown 110 mm longer, 55mm wider and 10mm lower. So, no aftermarket coil-overs are needed here… You know who you are. 🙂 The car felt quite planted with this new stance.

As mentioned, the 1.5 four pot DOHC VTEC does its duty in all Ballade models, this time with more power: 89kW and 145 Nm of torque. Fuel sipping is claimed to be less than before (at 5.5 L/100 km) due to power delivery at lower revs. My dear colleagues and I shall test that on an economy run!

Up till now the abbreviation “CVT” has been a swear word among many petrol heads. It still has that rubber band feel, but it is certainly getting better, mimicking a normal auto box. It does duty in all of the models with no manual option available.

In all honesty I quite enjoyed the linear power delivery, and the Sport mode worked brilliantly by even allowing breaking against engine compression down Franschoek Pass.

The entry level comfort model (R336 500) and Elegance (R366 900) comes with projector-type halogen lights, while sir range topper RS (R396 900) gets LED’s back to front, paired with LED fog lights.

Both the Comfort and Elegance derivatives run on 15-inch alloys while the range ‘stopper’, the RS, brags with 16-inchers.

All models, except for the Comfort model, are connected to the outside world with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Bluetooth via an 8-inch touch screen. Electric mirrors and windows, speed control, auto air-con and auto headlights add to the luxurious feel in all derivatives.

With the RS model, some added treats come in the form of smart entry with walk-away auto locking, a rear-view parking camera, electric sunroof, and an all-new intuitive 7-inch TFT multi-info display, replacing the traditional analogue instrument cluster. This can be configured by the driver with the steering buttons as he or she wish.

When it comes to safety, all models are equipped with ABS, EBD and VSA, which aids to more effective steering control. Rear parking sensors are standard on all except for the base Comfort model. Then again, all models come fitted with seat-belt pre-tensioners and ISOFIX child seat anchors.

For added peace of mind, the complete Ballade range comes standard with Honda’s 5-year 200,000km warranty, a 4-year / 60,000km service plan with service intervals every 15,000km’s. Then, also, our trusted AA will give you roadside assistance for three years.

All in all, a good package.

All in all, a good package. Will the Ballade sell? This is a sedan, and our South African community are like sheep when it comes to the SUV brigade. Time will tell us whether this car will end up maybe filling the luxury Urber fleet, on local soil.

The all-new Honda WRV:

Honda, you are really running out of the alphabet in the SUV department! But, again, that’s what the South African market wants. We understand.

That’s enough muttering from me. When I saw the WR-V for the first time, I thought “all that Jazz!” and “Honey I blew up…the Jazz?”

Is it the same dash, seats and size boot? If yes, that’s brilliant! My mom drives her third Jazz; this one is in Sport guise. I even helped her to have the standard black winter steelies painted silver, without asking. (Sorry Honda, Sorry Mom.)

Ok, let’s really get to the WR-V now.

Honda South Africa’s intention is to place the WR-V (manufactured in India) just below the HR-V, next to the BR-V, as the most affordable five-seater compact SUV to date.

Powering the WRV is Honda’s reliable* 1.2 i-VTEC with max power output at 66kW available at 6,000 rpm with torque figures of 110Nm at 4,800 rpm. In city driving this will be adequate, but on the open road? Mmm, Honda, can we also have a 1.5 please?

*Why do I say reliable? Every engine from Honda is reliable, duh!

Claimed economy figures for the 1.2 is 6.4 l/100km. We really believe this figure will be very close to reality.

The Elegance model (R319 900) leaves the factory with LED projector headlamps & LED fog lights, while the Comfort model (R289 900) comes equipped with Halogen Projectors & fog lights.

When it comes to space, Honda again did the magic with the same seat configuration as the Jazz and HR-V.

They certainly went premium in this compact cross-over range, with 363 litres of boot space, seats up, and folded down, you could even overnight in the rear with 881 litres of sleeping space.

Not only is it generous in space on paper, but it’s so cleverly laid out that two mountain-bikes (with the front wheels taken out) can be placed next to each other if the vehicle’s rear seats are folded down. I am looking forward to test that!

I am looking forward to test that!

Both the Comfort and the Elegance models come with a multi-function three-spoke steering wheel. On the infotainment front, the Comfort model is equipped with a 5-inch LCD sound system with four speakers and Bluetooth for handy-free operation of phone calls and audio streaming.

The Elegance model on the other hand gains two extra inches, housing a 7-inch unit, featuring Apple CarPlay & Android Auto.

On the safety front, as expected from Honda, they ticked more boxes than needed in this segment for each model! The usuals, like ABS & EBD, come as standard. Six airbags will look after you, should you need them. In addition, you also get seat-belt pre-tensioners and ISOFIX child seat anchor points.

Reverse parking sensors will back you up when reversing on both models while the Elegance model also gives you a reverse camera. The Elegance also comes equipped with speed control and keyless entry.

The new WR-V comes standard with Honda’s 5-year / 200,000km warranty and a 4-year / 60,000km service plan as standard. Services happen every 15,000km. Also, the trusted AA will look after you for three years with regards to roadside assistance.

Will the WR-V steal some of the sales of its brothers and sisters, in the form of the Jazz or BR-V? We don’t know! It will certainly add numbers to the Honda SUV department in SA.

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