The original Ballade appeared in South Africa in 1982, assembled and retailed through Mercedes-Benz SA and quickly become as a prestige second car for families who preferred Mercedes products; “a uniquely positioned compact car able to meet the needs of its discerning customer base”, so the company positioned it.
The Ballade collaboration lasted for 19 years during which 171 100 vehicles were sold and six generations of the Ballade were launched with a total of 45 models. The car carried the name Civic in other world markets and was only known in SA as the Ballade.
In its first year, the Ballade attracted only 1500 customers; by 1992 sales had risen to 1000 a month. The original 1.3 engine was followed by 1.6 VTEC and 1.8-litre units but, Honda SA insist on that core of the range was 1.5 and 1.6-litre units.
These two brands have already split and Honda SA now has cars and motorcycles under its corporate wing.
“The Ballade quickly established itself as an important player in the burgeoning compact sector and pioneered aircon and auto transmissions at a time when they were unheard-of in small cars. Sales were driven by a motoring public increasingly aware of the Ballade’s unique combination of quality, comfort and convenience”, Honda SA added.
Director of sales and marketing at Honda SA - Graham Eagle said: “The original Honda Ballade was a small-car pioneer that established many of the core values SA customers associate with the Honda car brand to this day – quality, reliability and high levels of ownership satisfaction. For that reason, we are delighted to be bringing back the iconic nameplate to after an absence of 10 years. It will fill the gap between the Honda Jazz and Honda Civic.”
The Ballade will be assembled in Thailand, where it is known as the Honda City - a name is well-established as a VW brand in SA so Honda SA decided the name would be problematical.
More details about the model range, engines and specifications will be announced closer to the launch date.