Johannesburg – With the Civic now priced in Rolls Royce and Bentley territory, those seeking a Honda sedan are more likely than ever to opt for the smaller Jazz-based Ballade, and they'll be pleased to see that the compact four-door now bears a closer resemblance to its bigger brother.

The facelifted Ballade, now on sale in South Africa, has been redesigned upfront, saluting the latest Civic with a more chiselled grille, flanked by pointier headlights.

All models now have daytime running lights, while the range-topping Executive model gains full LED headlights. Other styling changes include redesigned bumpers front and back and new wheel designs.

The cabin's basic design remains unaltered, but Honda's interior decor experts have thrown in some new surface materials and trims with the aim of creating a smarter and sportier vibe. You be the judge.

Power is provided by the familiar single-cam normally aspirated 1.5-litre i-Vtec, rated at 88kW and 145Nm and mated to either a five-speed manual or CVT gearbox.

The Trend, Elegance and Executive trim grades remain, the only difference being that the latter is no longer available with manual transmission.

Air conditioning is standard across the range, along with electric windows, remote central locking, audio system with Bluetooth connectivity, six airbags, ABS and hill-start assist and VSA stability assist.

The Elegance grade adds a 17.8cm touch-screen with reverse camera, leather-covered multi function steering wheel with reach adjustment, cruise control, powered and folding exterior mirrors and alloy wheels. An Executive upgrade buys you leather seats, automatic climate control and push-button keyless start.

The Ballade is sold with a five-year/200 000km warranty and four-year/60 000km service plan. Prices range from R238 800 to R307 200, but there are many sedans from the class above competing for attention in that space. Sedan buyers certainly are spoiled for choice.

HONDA BALLADE PRICES

1.5 Trend manual – 88kW/145Nm – R238 800

1.5 Trend CVT – 88kW/145Nm – R254 200

1.5 Elegance manual – 88kW/145Nm – R267 800

1.5 Elegance CVT – 88kW/145Nm – R283 200

1.5 Executive CVT – 88kW/145Nm – R307 200

ALTERNATIVES (mid-spec)

Ford Focus sedan 1.0T Trend – 92kW/170Nm – R271 900

Honda Ballade 1.5 Elegance – 88kW/145Nm – R267 800

Hyundai Accent sedan 1.6 Fluid – 91kW/156Nm – R269 900

Nissan Sentra 1.6 Acenta – 85kW/154Nm – R254 900

Suzuki Ciaz 1.6 GLX – 70kW/130Nm – R229 900

Toyota Corolla Quest 1.6 Plus – 90kW/154Nm – R224 900

VW Polo sedan 1.6 Trendline – 77kW/155Nm – R255 900