Honda is well known for their Civic Type R hot hatch, S2000 sports car, VTEC engines, and motorcycles.
Their sedans and crossovers, however, deserve attention too – thanks to their build quality and features.
The Honda Ballade is one of these sedans and was the brand’s second highest-selling sedan for 2020, according to the latest NAAMSA market report.
One tier above that is the Honda Civic, which offers an elongated version of their most famous hatchback with 16 litres of additional storage area.
These “more premium” sedans are the two vehicles which we will be looking at today, and finding out if price is the only factor which sets them apart.
The models which will be compared today are the Honda Ballade 1.5 Comfort CVT and the Honda Civic Sedan 1.8 Comfort CVT.
Right from the start, it is visually apparent that the Civic is meant to be the higher tier model in the line-up – with its larger dimensions, a modern design, and more aggressively-styled features.
The differentiated looks are aided by 15-inch wheels, chrome detailing, and an inverted-U front bumper on the Ballade – whereas the Civic receives 16-inch wheels, a gloss black grille, and a wide, open bumper.
The rear designs are also completely different, and the Civic’s roofline sits just over 5cm lower.
As standard, the cheaper Ballade is fitted with front fog lights, and both vehicles receive LED daytime running lights with halogen headlamps.
Moving to the inside, the pair are fitted with fabric seats, multi-function steering wheels, and a multi-information display in the instrument cluster.
The Ballade then receives a radio AM/FM audio system, while the Civic Sedan gets a 5-inch display with audio system.
Both infotainment systems support USB and Bluetooth connectivity, while the Ballade offers an additional AUX port.
Satellite navigation and Apple CarPlay capabilities are unfortunately not available in these entry-level models, but will be included further up in the range.
Additional noteworthy features that are shared by both include all-round electric windows, automatic climate control, and an efficiency-maximizing setting called ECON mode.
Honda then had to make a few tough decisions on who gets what, and the Civic was given an electronic parking brake as standard – whereas the Ballade got cruise control.
Safety systems do bring them back onto the same playing field, however, and there is little differentiation between the models.
Both vehicles are fitted with ABS, electronic brake-force distribution, vehicle stability assist, and hill start assist.
Two more systems were then installed in the Civic, namely emergency brake assist and automatic brake hold.
Passive safety is further covered by the Advanced Compatibility Engineering bodies which they were constructed with; side, front, and curtain airbags; an alarm and immobiliser system; and remote keyless entry with motion sensing auto-locking functionalities.
Surprisingly – for its smaller size – the Ballade boasts a noticeably higher boot capacity and offers its passengers a total of 506 litres.
The Civic brings 430 litres to the table.
The Ballade is fitted with a 1.5-litre engine that produces 89kW of power and 145Nm of torque. This allows a claimed combined fuel consumption of 5.5l/100km.
For a shade over R70,000 extra, the Civic Sedan receives a 1.8-litre motor which generates 104kW of power and 174Nm of torque – and this lets it attain a claimed combined fuel consumption of 6.3l/100km.
Power on both vehicles is then managed by a CVT transmission, and sent to the front wheels.
The Honda Ballade 1.5 Comfort CVT has a starting price of R336,500.
The Honda Civic Sedan 1.8 Comfort CVT has a starting price of R410,000.
Both cars offer their customers a 5-year/200,000km warranty along with a 3-year AA road assist plan.
The Ballade then receives a 4-year/60,000km service plan, while the Civic gets a 5-year/90,000km service plan.