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Honda Legend 2008 Review

Well, it always was a daft name. And at a time when the rest of the world is going for alpha-numeric model monikers, “Legend” looks particularly bloated and crass.

Which is, some will tell you, a telling commentary on the car itself. They're wrong, but more on that in a minute.

The second unfortunate perception about Honda's high-end luxury sedan is a collective inability to accept a high-end luxury sedan from people who also make a $15,000 econo-car. Toyota had the self-awareness of their place in the world outside Japan to call their top-line cars Lexus. Nothing badged with “T” is gonna cut it in a Western corporate car park. So who are Honda to presume otherwise of “H”?

And nearly $80K for a Honda? (“The door's over there and mind my entry-level 5 Series on the way out.”). At least, you can readily imagine that reaction. So Legend resides in near obscurity. Almost no one buys them, partly because no two people can agree on them. Skimming reviews of the car's 2006 release was to wonder more than usual whether these blokes were driving the same car.

My own piece was indifferent to the point of suggesting that for much the same money, you would be better off buying two other Hondas altogether — an Accord V6 and an Accord Euro.

Today the new Euro has had a price cut and Honda has thoughtfully passed on the not-yet-dead luxury car tax hike in the pricing of the reworked and relaunched Legend.

As outstandingly well-specced as ever, that extra few grand now gets an improved performer, one that's not just a substitute for the usual prestige suspects, but a player now worthy of first-team selection.

The matters of torque and weight were perhaps the only aspects of the MY06 model that were universally agreed upon — there was a lamentable lack low-down of the former and altogether too much of the latter.

While the Legend remains a corpulent 1865kg unladen and the maximum Newton metres arrive at a tardy 5000rpm, Honda's done a more than capable job of sharpening progress. The older 3.5-litre VTEC V6 is now 3.7 litres. Power is up 9kW to 226, and torque has grown 19Nm to 370. The ballsier output — married to an adroit five-speed auto with revised gearing and a meaningful shift-paddle manual mode — does a sound job of masking the peakiness. Typically, Honda claims that this increased capacity comes at no cost to consumption — the old 11.8 litres per 100km in combined conditions is now supposedly at 11.3 litres.

We couldn't manage that, running more than 18 in urban traffic. But then we didn't much feel like trying.

There is too much enjoyment to be had surging assertively off the line in our quite anonymous white sedan to the bamboozlement of drivers in various lesser machines.

Honda's most powerful production engine performs via its Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive. Not just another piece of Honda hubris, this all-paw system utterly quashes wheelspin, torque steer and any other less-than-seemly behaviour. And when the opportunity arises to get into it a bit, there's a perceptibly rear-wheel-drive feel to proceedings.

You're never unaware of the Legend's bulk. Neither does it unduly hamper you. And when the wet weather went Biblical last Saturday, it conveyed a Volvoesque sense of surety and composure, the ride unaffected by the 18-inch alloys. Passenger and driver alike were lovingly cosseted in beautifully appointed thrones.

The revised model has a plethora of cosmetic changes to complement the panoply of safety and comfort equipment. Apart from sparkly paint at $490 (as opposed to the typical $1600 German impost), there are no options.

And whereas the options in an Audi would be far too long to list here, it's the Honda's standard gear that would run off this page.

While you couldn't call it handsome, the bulky body and assertive design gambits that mar both the new Accords seem less incongruous on the bigger car. Still, if Honda is serious about entering Lexus terrain, it'd be nice to see them develop a less shouty and more coherent design language.

Nor is it efficiently packaged for a largish car. Rear seat room is strictly for two. Boot space is not generous.

A marque's topline model is supposed to be it's halo car.

Hard to say that of one car that's so seldom seen, it's more myth than Legend. Get to know it, though, and the Honda really shines throughout.

 

The bottom line

Loses the badge boasting contest, but walks away with the substance stakes.

 


SNAPSHOT

Honda Legend

Price: $77,500

Engine: 3.7L/V6; 226kW/370Nm

Economy: 11.3L/100km (claimed)

Transmission: 5-speed automatic; AWD

 

RIVALS

Audi A6 3.2

FSI Quattro

Price: $104,800

Engine: 3.2L/V6; 188kW/330Nm

Economy: 11.1L/100km (claimed)

Transmission: 6-speed automatic; AWD

 

Lexus GS 300 Sports

Price: $96,900

Engine: 3L/V6; 183kW/310Nm

Economy: 9.8L/100km (claimed)

Transmission: 6-speed automatic: RWD

 

Volkswagen

Passat R36

Price: $64,990

Engine: 3.6L/V6; 220kW/350Nm

Economy: 10.7L/100km (claimed)

Transmission: 6-speed DSG; AWD

 

Pricing guides

$12,870
Based on third party pricing data
Lowest Price
$10,780
Highest Price
$14,960

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
(base) 3.5L, PULP, 5 SP SEQ AUTO $10,780 – 14,740 2008 Honda Legend 2008 (base) Pricing and Specs
Pricing Guide

$6,555

Lowest price, based on 3 car listings in the last 6 months

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