Recently DTW reminded readers of the overlooked Honda Legend. And the resultant discussion brought up the fact that Car magazine ran both a C6 and a Legend on their long term fleet in 2007.
Car magazine asked at the end of their introductory comparison whether the two cars were “viable executive choices or pointless follies, vanity projects for their respective makers?” The general tone of the article was that even though they had chosen to run both these cars, Car itself didn’t really know why it was bothering.
The introduction rather prejudiced the inquiry by pointing out that neither Honda nor Citroen had high ambitions for the vehicles. They expected about 400 units to be sold each year, which turned out to be optimistic. But perhaps in stressing the fact few buyers would be tempted, Car simply made a self-fulfilling prophecy.
What else did they say? The Honda was seen as a car for those looking for a vehicle with no social baggage, indeed it was a car the writers considered to be invisible: “an anti-statement, a car for those who want to please only themselves, not everybody else.” Further, Car imagined Honda buyers would not consider the more overt C6 which Car considered “stunning or repulsive depending on who you ask”. For the record, Car liked the C6’s appearance. Personally, I can’t get over the rear lamps or the Audi-esque overtones of the glasshouse.
Both cars cost north of £35,000. The Legend, as tested, ran to £39,000 and the C6 a round £40,000. Interestingly, it was the Honda that was considered to have the more special cabin though the Citroen was roomier. This echoes criticism of the Legend from other sources who accused the car of not having enough rear room.
The Legend gained points for its driving capability, sporting as it does a 4-wheel drive system and a 291 bhp 3.5 litre V6. The 0-62 mph time was 7.3 seconds. The Citroen is well down in power in comparison, using a 2.7 litre PSA-Ford V6 diesel. A heftier weight and lower power meant the Citroen needed 8.9 seconds to get to 62 mph and this was both slower than the Legend a lot tardier than a similarly powered BMW 535d.
At first glance, indeed the two cars are very different. The Legend seems to aspire to a sporting role while the Citroen wants to cosset and calm. So, potential buyers may not have been considering both cars. However, the real choice is between these two and the usual suspects so indeed it is likely that shoppers for a non-German brand may very well have been considering either of these vehicles at the same time, despite their differences in character. What was important was how they differed from the opposition more than how they differed from each other.
The following month, the C6 featured alone in the Long Term test report. Though quantitatively inferior to its peers from the BMW, Mercedes and Audi stables, the Car staff were reported to have liked the C6. In essence, the car’s problem is that it isn’t easy to like straightaway, it takes time to get used to it and by then its appeal becomes more apparent. That’s showroom poison, of course.
The performance in isolation was deemed “effortless” and the car was exceptionally quiet due to the double glazing. The magazine resorted to the usual clichées of “dinghy-at-sea” roll angles but this was the price to be paid for a soft ride. Steering was finger light. Clearly it’s a car with an entirely different agenda than other vehicles.
Reminiscent of the Peugeot 604 from 1975, the emphasis is on the qualitative aspects of driving not the outright numbers presented. This is a hard sell in a world of short attention spans though. And if quality mattered, I am deeply puzzled how such a costly car could look so markedly indifferent in places such as the dashboard plastics and the fit of the huge rear bumpers.
In September ’07, there was a postage stamp-sized report noting the capacious 488-litre boot, the relaxing ambience and the C6’s waftability. Alas, the opening sentence accused the car of lumbering. I wonder was this just careless writing? In what sense does the C6 lumber?
In the November ’07 report the C6 was accused of being too subtle. And finally the Legend got a mention for its snarling V6 and good seating. Honda didn’t get good results from that long term test as the car was barely reported otherwise during the three subsequent months of the period I looked at.
It’s a moot point as to which of these cars I’d pick if given the choice. I’d be interested in driving the C6 but suspect the Honda is the car I’d choose to run for a longer period as I admire its head-down engineering ethos but I’d understand if someone opted for the C6’s relaxed charms.
More interesting perhaps is the manner in which both cars seemed to be unable to generate the copy that makes a proper long-term test worthwhile. Or else the journalist themselves weren’t interested. Were the cars offered for free by the manufacturers?
I’d have expected to hear more about daily life in the cars, experiences with dealers and boring details like fuel economy and foibles. Instead, both cars remain stuck on the page, imprisoned in a few off-the-cuff remarks concerning waftablility and how they can’t expect to succeed. I’d really expect more than such indifferent journalism.
And thus if you want to really learn about the Honda, turn to American journals like Car & Driver where you’ll get a more detailed, if North American, take on the car. For the Citroen you’d have to search carefully for detailed objective analysis since it was not often the subject of reports and seldom (if ever?) included in group tests.