I was chatting to my man in Honda the other day. I said Australia is big, very big and our cars need to be super comfy. With petrol at $1.50, they need by OK on the juice too. Ms Honda said “oh well the 6 cylinder Honda accord made it from Sydney to Melbourne on one tank”. I said I won’t drive to Melbourne, but a spin up the pacific Highway to Brisbane wasn’t out of the question. They didn’t have an Accord, but they did have a nice shiny new Top-of-the-range Legend. I said yes please. Why not fly? Because I’m sick to death of 12 year old trolly dollies telling me I can’t use my iPad until well into the flight. I’m sick of being told that “it’s in Tiger’s terms and conditions” I’m sick to death of Sydney airport and the diabolical traffic snarls which make getting in or out next to impossible. I’m sick of QANTAS and it’s humourless wide bodied hostesses. I’m sick of Virgin’s limp excuses for food and I certainly am not interested in using their stupid Foxtel which develops a personality every time the aircraft changes direction. Being sandwiched into a sardine can at 10,000 metres is not my idea of a good time. No, taking that awful goat track called the Pacific Highway north is far preferable to flying, and I wanted to see the Legend being used for something other than transporting fat-bummed executives through peak hour traffic.
Legend had a bit of a break from the Aussie market but has been back for a little while so what’s it like? Will it make it to Brisbane on a single tank? Will it do 900 k’s? I can answer that, it didn’t. But it did do 700 k’s. That’s not too bad for a luxury full sized executive saloon, or is that “full sized personal sports saloon”?
My only problem with the sexy exterior is the front which looks to have been made for another car. It’s not ugly but it just looks a but too big for the rest of the car. It looks as thought someone had to take a chisel to it to get it to glue into place. It’s just not quite right if you know what I mean. It looks fast, and classy, and quality so is it all of these things? Yes it is and has a shedload of high tech whiz bangery to boot.
Honda insists on comparing this with Holden’s Caprice. But even the top of the line Caprice is 10k cheaper than Legend and has an engine with an extra two cylinders and an extra 2.3 litres in engine size. It has around 20 cms of extra legroom and is Australia’s only locally made Limo. If they keep doing this, of course people are going to buy the Caprice. Legend isn’t a limo, but it is a uber comfy personal luxury sports saloon. It’s more like the Calais which is about 25k cheaper than Legend. Honda has loads more gadgets though as is the want of the clever Japanese. Apart from power seats, windows, Steering wheel adjustment and rear sun shade, the rear head rests can also be lowered with a little button on the dash which is very Mercedes Benz.
I collected the shiny new Legend, threw my bags in the back and headed off. It took a little while to get settled and the Audio/satnav/Bluetooth is devilishly difficult to set up. It required a quick nosey through the user guide, something men just never ever do. I got it sorted in a jiff was cutting a swathe through late afternoon Sydney traffic in no time at all, but not before I’d made a few notes. Looks wise, this Honda is conservative. The finish is impeccable and the quality is obvious. I can’t help but feel the design could have been a bit more daring. After all, Honda aimed the Legend at the same crowd who buy BMW’s, merit Mercedes-Benz’s and justify Jaguars, and to them the badge is everything. The euro makers have a century of innovation, technology and more importantly brand-building advertising. Reputation is built on it. the fact that some Euro makers have had recalls of moon-landing importance is neither here nor there. their reputation is such that people will still buy them. The blue and white circle (no it isn’t a stylised propeller), 3 pointed star, 4 joined rings and the leaping cat all rest firmly on reputations going back to the 1920’s. It’s a hard act to follow and a tough market to crack.
I do like the look of the styling with the front being the only thing that needs rethinking. Inside, apart from the SatNav and bluetooth having personalities of their own, the cabin is a feel of class. It’s inspired by the BGB’s (big German Barges) and there is no little amount of American influence as that is Honda’s biggest market, but it is still quite nice. They’ve kept the finishes high-end and for the most part, reasonably subtle. There list of gadgets is simply to huge to go into here, so a few highlights are the Noise Cancelation System and the All Wheel Drive. The former has a two mics in the cabin to sample noise and play back the opposite wave via the infotainment system. Does it work? The car is extremely quiet so I assume so. The AWD means the handling is surprising for a car this size. The tight mountain roads inland of Ballina were no end of fun.
Those who follow me on facebook will have seen the check ins with some of the photos above. the drive was an easy one because the car had oodles of power, oodles of room and oodles of comfort. One of Hondas best assets would be their engines. This one is a 3.7L v6 with 223 kw and a 6 speed auto. Both are super smooth. The steering has nice road feel with little understeer or oversteer. As I’ve said many times, we don’t drive the cars like idiots. We don’t shred tyres and ruin transmissions, we drive the cars like you do. In that spirit, we filled the boot with shopping and bags and bits and bobs. The fact is the Legend failed none of the tests. Legend handled everything beautifully and made mince meat of the flood damaged roads. In short, it was superb. I enjoyed it very much.
Would I buy one? That’s an easy question with a complex answer so let me say this. Holden Caprice is 10k cheaper, Calais is 20k cheaper and Hondas own fabulous Accord euro is almost 40k cheaper. You could buy your other half a Euro, and one for yourself, or better still, put the 40k down on a boozy holiday for you and a few old chums. Legend is a very very good car. It drives as well as some of the European makes and is half the price, but as I’ve already said, a BMW, Mercedes or Audi buyer is not likely to spend $80,000 less for Legend because they are buying a lifestyle that goes with the badge from Germany or the UK. I asked some of those to come for a spin in the Legend. All of the said they loved it, but all said they loved the Euro cars more. Toyota seems to have filled the niche with its Lexus brand and this is where the Legend sits. As well, Volvo, Jaguar, Lexus, BMW, Mercedes Benz amongst others, all field models in this price range. The question I would be asking is would I rather have a Honda Legend, or a Jaguar XF/BMW/Mercedes Benz?
Smooth engine, classy interior, great build quality, quiet
Bluetooth clunky and difficult to use, Price, can be noisy on chip surfaced roads
Holden Caprice, Audi a4, VW passat, Lexus IS350, Volvo s60 s80, Jaguar XF to name but a few
Here are a few pics of the trip.
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