By Patrick James on 2010-11-06 - The author has been a motoring writer for more than 16 years. Formerly motoring editor at the Coventry Telegraph, he now produces motoring copy, on new car launches and road tests on a freelance basis.
Honda Legend 3.5
YOU are more likely to see a Hollywood legend than a Honda wearing a Legend badge.
Honda's flagship has all the attributes of a luxury cruiser and it's bristling with technology but it's battling one of the toughest markets in motoring.
But it is a real alternative to the German armlock on the executive sector and offers real luxury for its occupants.
It looks the part from the outside with a sleek design that features double chrome exhaust and striking chrome trim along the length of the body. But it does not have the road presence of say a Jaguar XF.
The car is superbly made. The wood-panelled cabin is luxurious, despite looking a little bit dated in places, and the controls are well placed and easy to use.
The wood trim works well with thick carpets, all set off with some blue ambient lighting under the heated and air conditioned leather seats.
Despite a large interior the middle rear seat is not that big and neither is the boot, but you do get a proper spare wheel.
It gets much better underneath the bonnet where an impressive 3.5-litre V6 engine is housed, mated with a slick automatic gearbox.
But, it's a thirsty beast.
The huge power plant may be smooth and powerful when pushed, but it's woeful in the frugality stakes and the best economy claimed by the company are 24mpg. You should be so lucky.
The high C02 emissions will also put it in the highest company car tax bracket and there is no diesel option.
The ride is comfortable and there is excellent body control for such a big car.
Its all-wheel drive system splits power between the mainly rear driven axle and front. This and the electronic stability programme makes it feel precise and stable, particulary when cornering.
It also has precise and nicely balanced steering
The standard fit list is extensive with just about every creature comfort including rain sensing wipers, gear shift paddles behind the steering wheel, bluetooth, a premium six CD system, tinted glass, a rear view reversing camera, swivelling headlights and satellite navigation with DVD and voice recognition.
With all the technology crammed into the Legend it is odd that the bulky key looks like it belongs to a 1990s Rover and has not been replaced with an electronic key fob.
The safety specification is also comprehensive and includes curtain, front and side airbags, emergency brake assist, electronic brake-force distribution, Isofix seats and side impact protection.
There is also technologically advanced kit like the Lane Keeping Assist System, which keeps you in the motorway lanes and works with radar on adaptive cruise control to keep you a safe distance from the car in front.
The Legend also has what Honda calls Super handling-All Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) and vehicle stability assist which work together to divert power not just to the either axle, but also to the to the wheel that needs it most when control is lost.
It clearly deserves the luxury car tag and carries with it Honda's excellent reliability history, but I can see why they may be rare sighting.
Competitors, like Toyota and Nissan, brand their luxury cars with a different name, Lexus and Infiniti and that may be the way forward for Honda for the Legend.
Priced at nearly 40 grand and despite all the cutting edge technology, gadgets and standard luxury fittings, it struggles against cars like the Jaguar XF, the Audi A6, the BMW 5 Series and the Mercedes E-Class.
Hang around and as a used model it would make a great buy - if you don't mind a hefty fuel bill.
Honda Legend 3.5 i-VTEC
Mechanical: 3,471cc, 295bhp, V6 petrol engine, driving all four wheels via 5-spd dual mode automatic transmission
Max Speed: 155mph
Combined MPG: 24.6mpg
Insurance Group: 20
C02 emissions: 273g/km
Bik rating: 35%
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