This could be only one of these cars I’ve ever seen.
The pleasing headlamps and dart-like prow caught my eye. What a handsome car, I thought. No-one else thinks so (and the boot looks odd). It’s the short-lived Honda Legend née Acura RL.
AutoExpress said this about the car: “… from the word go, the Honda is surprisingly sporting. In corners, the Legend comes close to toppling the 5-Series for handling ability. It also rides better than M Sport BMWs – although the suspension is taut, the damping and body composure are very good. The Honda feels light, responsive, predictable and well balanced. Overall, it behaves like a much smaller machine, and so diving into corners becomes second nature. Yet if you do go in too quickly, the advanced Super Handling All Wheel Drive can divert power to the tyre that needs it most, and help you out of trouble.”
Honda weren’t really listening to my well-worn sermons about to succeed in the large car market. First, offer a good range of engines. Honda offered only one, a thirsty V6. Two, give your car a distinctive look. While I like it, most of the commentators didn’t. With my industrial designer’s hat on, I can’t see what they are concerned with here. I’d argue that no other car looks like the Honda and most of the competitors look like each other.
There’s a whiff of received wisdom about that criticism of the appearance, in my view. Lastly, offer a really big boot. The Legend had a 452 litres boot which will carry a lot but not as much as I’d expect for such a big car. What went wrong? The stylists argued that a smaller boot was needed for reasons of appearance. The marketing people felt that these cars are seldom expected to carry much anyway.
The donor car was an Accord. And so the car was given a boot smaller than the car it seems so obviously to be based on. Another clue is the relatively short wheelbase, leading us to the 604/Senator/C6 lesson. Don’t base your big car on a smaller car. Ever. Honda saved some money on development but lost more by not selling very many copies. And they had to pulp loads of brochures in 2008 when they abandoned the market.
Which was a pity as the Legend looked nice (from the front), carried quite a lot of luggage, was technically very advanced and its powerful 3.5 litre VTEC required servicing only every 9,500 miles…did I mention that?
Brand new, the Legend cost forty thousand pounds sterling. If you fancy one of these now there’s a 2006 model for £10,000 with 27,000 miles on the clock here. And on the same page, for £695 there’s a 1997 with 97,000 miles. I can’t tell which is the bigger bargain. I’d probably save the £9000 and choose the ’97.
From where I am sitting in Denmark it’s enough to make me weep as I face bills for modest maintenance the equivalent of buying a whole replacement car with an MOT attached.