The new Honda Ballade has arrived in South Africa, complete with a fresh RS-badged flagship variant.

Don’t get too excited, though, because the RS designation adds precisely zero extra performance. Instead, the new-generation Ballade features the familiar naturally aspirated 1,5-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine across the range.

While the City-badged equivalent in some other markets has switched to the Japanese firm’s latest turbocharged 1,0-litre three-cylinder unit, the SA-spec Ballade soldiers on with the aforementioned 1,5-litre engine, delivering 89 kW and 145 N.m to the front axle via a continuously variable transmission.

Furthermore, the local line-up appears to have been trimmed from five derivatives to three, with the base Trend specification and all manual variants falling away. The new Ballade 1,5 Comfort CVT is priced at R336 500, with the Ballade 1,5 Elegance CVT coming in at R366 900. The Ballade 1,5 RS CVT, meanwhile, tops the line-up at R396 900.

So, what sets the RS variant apart? Well, it rides on 16-inch alloys (the other two derivatives feature 15-inch items) and boasts a model-specific grille and bumpers plus chrome-finished exterior door handles, gloss-black side-mirror caps, LED fog- and headlamps, a rear spoiler and red “RS” badges.

Inside, the 1,5 RS CVT upgrades to leather upholstery, a digital instrument cluster, an electric sunroof and keyless entry, while an eight-inch touchscreen system is standard across the range. ABS with EBD as well as vehicle stability assist and hill-start assist are included on all models, along with six airbags and rear-sited IsoFix child-seat anchors.

Four exterior colours are on offer: Platinum White Pearl, Radiant Red Metallic, Lunar Silver Metallic and Modern Steel Metallic. A five-year/200 000 km warranty and a four-year/60 000 km service plan (with intervals of 15 000 km) are both included as standard.