Legend? Quite an appropriate name. I don’t think I’ve seen one in the metal since 1989
In fact it was only a couple of years ago that the last Legend disappeared from Car’s GBU although truth be told we were umming and aahhing about removing it for a while as sightings were so rare that its existence seemed to be largely hypothetical.
And this new version will change all that?
Not exactly, Honda is forecasting a tiny 400 annual sales.
So why persevere with building big Hondas that don’t sell?
Because the Legend gets all the hi-tech gadgets that promote Honda as a pioneer of technology and the UK arm believes that you need to be seen to offer a flagship saloon in order to sell the mass-market stuff. Plus it’s big in the United States
Gadgets, eh? Like what?
Night vision. Other car makers such as Cadillac have offered it before, and Merc’s latest S-class has it, but this is the first time it’s been offered in Britain on a vaguely affordable car. We’ve tried it and it really works, helping you spot pedestrians and other cars long before they’re illuminated by the headlights. Then there’s Honda’s amazing LKAS lane guidance system, which scans the road markings and steers the car for you. Although you can’t climb in the back for a snooze just yet, that day can’t be far away. The paddleshift auto ’box has just five speeds but the 3.5 V6 now puts out a useful 296bhp although it needs to be revved to perform. And let’s not forget the Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive.
Catchy name, what is it?
The Legend’s four-wheel drive system turns the outside rear wheel faster than the others when cornering to reduce understeer. It can shift up to 70 per cent of engine power front and rear, and at the rear 100 per cent of it to either side of the axle, wherever it’s most needed. Don’t go getting the idea that this is some wood and leather-filled Evo IX but it does genuinely work, making the Legend far more agile than you’d expect and far more fun on the sort of twisty roads big saloons tend not to be at home on. What lets it down is the ropey low speed ride: it’s fine on the motorway but makes a meal of urban potholes and ridges.
So who’s going to buy it over a 5-series?
No one, Honda admits rather candidly. The very American styling makes no real statement and the big H on the beaky grille still doesn’t cut it in those circles. Fact is it looks too much like an Accord-class car. But people impressed by technology rather than status, people moving up from Volvos and Saabs, they’re the ones on the Honda hit list.