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Honda Legend returns

08/17/2006

Honda Legend
Honda keeps the engineering tricks coming with its reborn flagship the Legend.
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It has been more than two years since Honda had a flagship in Australia. The Japanese company liked to think its MD-X four-wheel-drive did the job, but looking at the sales numbers shows few people agreed.

What they really wanted was a car that was big and luxurious - something like the Legend.

But the Legend was quietly killed in Australia when the soaring value of the Japanese yen inflated the price to almost $90,000 and sales died as the car was forced up against BMW and Benz.

Now the Legend is back. It is new, has all sorts of Honda engineering trickery, and the price is down to a more manageable $74,500.

It looks and drives the way a Japanese flagship should, and it comes at a time when Japanese flagship cars have disappeared from Mazda, Nissan, Toyota and Mitsubishi. There is a clear opportunity for someone - Honda hopes - to scoop up customers looking for something a lot like the Legend.

\"The Legend offers the best of both worlds. It has the size, luxury and performance of a mid-sized luxury car with a price closer to a compact European prestige car,\" senior director of Honda Australia Lindsay Smalley says.

\"The Legend offers buyers an outstanding specification and is vastly superior to our previous model.\"...

The wood in the cabin is real now, not just coloured plastic, and the car is 1855kg.

Honda likes to spring surprises and push the edges with technology.

So the car's 3.5-litre V6 is claimed as the most powerful Honda road engine yet - even better than the NSX supercar - and it has an innovative traction system called Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive.

It is an active torque-split system that works at all four corners to maximise grip and safety.

The fourth-generation Legend also gets a pop-up bonnet for pedestrian safety, GPS and solar-sensing airconditioning, active noise cancellation in the cabin and satellite navigation, though Honda Australia is still waiting for local mapping to work with its Alpine system.

There are also xenon headlights - but only on low beam - LED turn and brake lights, a super-rigid body, punchy CD sound, full leather cabin, alloy wheels and a sunroof.

And there's plenty of safety gear, from electronic stability control and anti-skid brakes with brake assist to rain-sensing wipers and dual-stage front, side and curtain airbags.

The headlights have active cornering assistance and there's a rear-view reversing camera.

It is loaded, and with only one fully loaded specification, unlike European luxury cars that always need a visit to the optional equipment list.

"This new Legend is vastly superior to our previous model," Smalley says. "I think it's very important, particularly for existing Legend owners, to give them some progress."

But Honda is not forecasting huge sales. Or a takeover of the luxury middle ground. Or an attack on the Statesman and Fairlane.

"We've set a modest target for 2006. We are looking for about 50 cars a month," Smalley says.

"The European brands have a strong image and make great motor cars, but if you look past the badge, is the engineering any better? I don't believe it is."

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Honda Legend returns
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