HONDA LEGEND REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Large prestige sedan
Price: $76,990 (plus on-roads)
Fuel Economy (claimed): 10.7 l/100 km
Fuel Economy (tested): 10.2 l/100 km
There’s plenty on offer when it comes to luxurious offerings carrying $80,000-plus pricetags. That’s right in the middle of the hunting ground for the dominant German marques, BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz, and right where Lexus gets serious.
So how does the all-wheel-drive Honda Legend - with no change out of $83k once you put it on road - stack up against the Euro competition?
Quality: With the Legend, the overwhelming impression is of a car that has been engineered, not just built. You feel it in the solid doors, the multi-configurable spring-loaded cup-holders and in the high-quality rubber-faced switch gear.
But while the precision impresses, some finishes are missing: the grainy dash does not have the tactile quality-feel you’ll find in a Lexus or Mercedes, and there isn’t a single real-metal highlight in the passenger compartment, with painted plastics used instead.
Comfort: Glove-soft leather seating with broad front-buckets with electric power adjustment make the Legend an inviting place to be at the wheel.
In the rear, things are almost as comfortable. The centre seat is high, purely for occasional use, but the sofa-like outboard seats are deep with good leg and headroom.
Although foot space is a little tight, for added comfort there a powered rear screen and manual side window-shades can be deployed.
Equipment: The standard list is long: there are xenon headlamps with directional control, interior noise cancellation, dual-zone climate control, sat-nav, trip computer including calender, calculator and unit conversions, rear camera,10-speaker Bose audio, Bluetooth, automatic headlights and wipers, multi-function steering wheel with gearshift paddles, powered front seats with memory function and rear sunshades.
Some equipment is missing however. Things like park sensors, proximity key, active cruise-control and blind-spot monitoring which can be had on some cheaper cars, are not available for the Legend.
Storage: In the cabin the large glovebox and centre console will easily swallow most personal effects. Boot space measures 452 litres, small for a car of the Legend’s size, and oddly-shaped with an uneven floor and high, narrow boot opening.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: The 3.7 litre V6 of the Honda Legend is a prime example of the kind of engines Honda wins praise for. This engine delivers 226kW of power @6300 rpm and 370Nm of torque at a high-ish 5000 rpm.
On the road that equates to effortless quiet power that has no trouble whatsoever pushing the 1875kg Legend around.
Power is routed to all four wheels via Honda’s so-named ‘super handling AWD’. It may be large and comfort-focused, but push the Legend into some winding corners and it responds like a much smaller, lighter car.
Refinement: Riding in the Legend is quite an odd experience - from the moment you close the door the world becomes whisper quiet, and, as speed rises, there’s just minimal audible evidence of the 3.7 litre V6.
There is a little tyre roar, but it’s only noticeable due to the lack of all other noise.
Suspension: Despite the Legend’s front double wishbone and rear multi-link suspension set-up, things are a little adrift with the suspension tuning and, consequently, the chassis balance.
It’s tuned to sit somewhere between sporting and supple; the result however is that it rides out large ‘hits’ comfortably yet constantly fidgets over smaller bumps and rougher tarmac (that we’ve got a lot of in Australia).
Braking: The Legend’s four-wheel ventilated disc brakes are premium fare and have no trouble hauling the big Honda to a standstill while providing good pedal feel.
ANCAP rating: 5 Stars (Euro NCAP result, 2006 model tested)
Safety features: Front, front side and full-length curtain airbags, electronic brakeforce distribution, emergency brake assist, active front head restraints, vehicle stability assist with traction control (ESP), seatbelt reminders and headrests for all seats and front seatbelt pretensioners .
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years/100,000km.
Service costs: Check with your Honda dealer before purchase.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
Audi A6 2.0 TFSI ($81,900) - The cheapest petrol A6 packs an interior of unrivalled quality. It runs a frugal turbocharged petrol engine but is mated to a numb CVT transmission and front wheel drive. (see Audi reviews)
Holden Caprice V ($69,990) - Holden’s long wheelbase V8-powered Caprice V may lack the polish of the Legend inside and out, but it represents incredible value for a big, very powerful sedan. (see Caprice reviews)
Saab 9-5 Vector Turbo4 ($75,900) - It would be a brave move at the moment, but the 9-5 is the car to pick if you want something different. The interior is more modern, rear seat space is larger, and the drive is very rewarding. A good car, but...? (see 9-5 reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
While clearly a premium package, and certain to satisfy discerning buyers, the Legend is nevertheless not the balanced all-round package we might have expected from Honda.
Very comfortable, as solid as the pyramids and with the security of a clever all-wheel-drive system, it is an effortless inter-city tourer and serenely quiet around town. But its composure on secondary roads and surfaces is not quite up to the mark.
Ultimately, for the money you pay, it lacks some vital equipment and doesn’t have the exclusive style or finesse of its Euro competitors.