With its blend of advanced cutting edge technology and an array of innovative assistance systems, the new Honda Legend steps into the luxury upper mid-range as a classic 4-door saloon. True to its dynamic styling, Honda's premium model offers a comfortable interior with sporting overtones. Its spaciousness promotes a sense of well-being and comfort.
Larger, heavier, more expensive and with a long list of optional extras - these are features common to many new models in the upper mid-range. "The new Legend," says Yasuhisa Maekawa, President of Honda R&D Europe, Vice President of Honda Motor Europe, "shows that a high level of performance, safety and comfort together with a generous interior does not necessarily result in excessive weight, not least because we can offer a premium saloon with all imaginable innovations at an attractive price, even compared with most low-end standard models of many competitors."
There is now more opportunity for challengers. A few established makes dominate the upper mid-class and luxury saloon range worldwide particularly in Europe. However, challengers' odds are increasing. Not only because they are manufacturing products of an equal quality but also that they have been known to take the technological lead in important innovations. The real reason has much more to do with once resolutely loyal buyers distancing themselves from their traditional makes for a variety of reasons.
The elegant design of the Legend confirms status, while the body's dynamic lines represent a sporting temperament - an early hint at the power of the up-to-date engine. A characteristic feature of the front is the steep sloping hood. From the side, the sleek cockpit, a deep window beltline and a short deck lid accentuate the Legend's pronounced wedge shape. The new Legend is 20mm higher and 25mm wider than its predecessor. The overall length, however, has been reduced by 38mm, and the wheelbase by 110mm; nevertheless there is an extra 30mm to the length of the passenger compartment and 40mm to the height of the interior. The result is a far more generous cabin size despite reductions in the overall body length. Passengers are treated as standard to an ambience of refinement, with its immaculate attention to ergonomics, leather upholstery, and 8-way power adjustable front seats.
Excellent aerodynamics and a remarkably low noise level
With a highly efficient drag coefficient figure and a low overall height of 1.45 metres, the new Legend is streamlined in a way otherwise only seen in sports coupés. This pays dividends in the form of saving fuel at higher speeds as well as reducing wind noise to an imperceptible level. The results of intricate tests dictated that a significant reduction of high frequency and middle-frequency noise was a condition of the Legend's rebuild.
Instead of the traditional heavy insulation, light materials are used which are also highly efficient in absorbing sound. For example, the inner wing insulator. A rubber-type layer ensures that noise from uneven or wet surfaces is significantly reduced. The floor is also covered completely by a protective layer which is anti-corrosive as well as sound-absorbing. The underside is designed so that body vibrations are eliminated by the insulation material, providing an acoustic barrier between the cabin and the road.
The subframes for integrating engine and gearbox are in a 'floating' position to create an acoustic barrier between the main source of vibration (the engine) and the large resonance volume (body). Any low-frequency noises which still penetrate the cabin are eliminated by an Active Noise Cancellation unit (ANC) specifically developed for this model. The system uses two microphones located in the roof console. The microphones monitor drive train noises entering the cabin. When unwanted frequencies are detected, the ANC creates a counter-frequency and sends a precisely timed reverse phase audio signal to the audio system's door speakers and subwoofer. The ANC overrides vibrations and cancels out unwanted frequencies. This creates peace within the car and, in every possible way, replaces traditional, heavy sound insulating material.
Intelligent lightweight structure
Cars with an array of safety technology and elevated comforts usually weigh in at more than less-equipped models of the same range. For this reason, most makes offer basic models as 'slimmed down versions'. Honda takes another, more logical approach and has fully-equipped the Legend in almost all of its markets. However, to keep the potential weight down as much as possible, developers of the new Legend have made an intelligently lightweight structure. The body - the component with the highest mass - to an extent is made of high-tensile sheet metal allowing for thin wall thickness. In addition, the hood, front wings and chassis components, such as subframes and wishbones, are made from aluminium; the drive shaft is made from a lightweight carbon fibre reinforced composite. Extensive use of these lightweight materials keeps the kerb weight of the 5metre car below 1885 kg - while maintaining excellent body rigidity.
The Legend's interior combines elegant luxury with clear, efficient design, providing an ambience which complements the car's athleticism. At the same time, various latest technological features have been selected to enable simple and intuitive use of the controls. A meticulously thought-out interior harmony contributes to making the driver at ease, by assisting in difficult driving situations and eliminating unnecessary distractions.
Particular attention has been paid to the high quality and workmanship of materials. Ergonomical seating with perforated leather-trim creates a driving experience which is sporty and at the same time refined. Maple wood trim sweeps across the instrument panel, while the centre console housing the climate, audio and navigation controls has a satin metal finish for a more technical look. The main instrumentation and the large, bright navigation display are easy-to-read. All important controls are within easy reach of the driver.
Engine/Transmission - Superior source of power
The new Legend's 3.5 litre SOHC VTEC V6 engine is an absolute hi-tech collective and one of the most powerful in its class. The modern aluminium 4-valve engine with adjustable valve control and electronic valve lift control produces 217 kW (295 PS) at 6,200 rpm. The maximum torque of 351 Nm at 5,000 rpm provides for acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in 7.3 seconds and a top speed of 250 km/h.
With the standard 5-speed automatic transmission, the driver can select gears manually - either by using the shift lever in the centre console or paddles located on the steering wheel. The transmission together with the intelligent gearshift system, Grade Logic Control, provides consistent propulsion especially for hill driving. The Shift Hold Control system works together with the electronic accelerator and benefits sporty drivers on winding roads. Both systems work together to reduce unnecessary shifts during climbs or negotiating corners in automatic mode.
The Legend's innovative chassis has double wishbones as the front suspension and multi-link as the rear. This sophisticated technology allows for a good flat ride and safe cornering even on uneven road surfaces.
Large, ventilated front and rear disc brakes and 4-piston callipers provide exceptional stopping power. Electronic aids such as ABS, EBD, VSA (Vehicle Stability Assist) support the driver in potentially dangerous situations.
SuperHandling All-Wheel Drive
The Honda Legend has an all-wheel drive system as standard to improve cornering ability. The SH-AWD (Super Handling All-Wheel Drive) system increases the rotation speed of the outside rear wheel during spirited cornering to help the car turn more easily. This dramatically improves handling through well-balanced over-steering in sharp corners.
During straight line cruising and moderate cornering up to 70 per cent of torque is delivered to the front wheels, full throttle acceleration or spirited driving directs up to 70 per cent of available torque to the rear wheels. Depending on the driving situation, the available torque at the rear axle can be distributed in a range of 100:0 to 0:100 between both rear wheels. The result is enhanced cornering performance and guaranteed maximum driving pleasure.
This intelligent all-wheel technology developed by Honda engineers also improves cornering safety: The SH-AWD system is activated if the driver applies too much pressure on the brakes on a corner and varies the distribution of power to the individual wheels, so that driving stability, within its physical limits, remains constant.
Vehicle Stability Assist
The Honda Legend is equipped with an electronic Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) system. This is comparable to the popular and highly developed ESP system, except that in Honda's premium model it is closely integrated with the Super Handling All-Wheel Drive. VSA is designed to assist the driver in maintaining control during sudden manoeuvres.
A microprocessor calculates a predicted range of vehicle responses and co-ordinates the ideal distribution of braking power to each wheel as necessary, activates the throttle system and controls the ignition. With controlled acceleration, partial braking intervention and responsive acceleration of individual wheels, VSA can keep the car on its intended course.
The new Legend's highly rigid body structure guarantees a high level of passenger safety in a variety of crash situations together with a combination of dual stage front and side airbag systems and curtain airbags. The ACE (Advanced Compatibility Engineering) Body Structure helps disperse collision forces away from the passenger compartment onto the overall body structure. With the intelligent positioning of frame components, in a head on collision, for example, the collision energy is dispersed more over the entire frontal area and over the prominent side structure. The ACE Body Structure also contributes to the protection of other passengers, especially in smaller vehicles.
Setting a good example
The new Legend's specially designed front structure frame provides for improved partner protection in the event of a crash with a smaller vehicle: the front structure is designed to buckle relatively easily. In a vehicle-to-vehicle collision this body component, by buckling, absorbs a large part of the impact and adapts to the safety structure of the other vehicle. This is because the energy, which cannot be absorbed by the smaller car's more unyielding body and can therefore impact the passenger compartment, is also reduced through the specific frontal structure of the large Honda saloon.
Improved pedestrian safety
A pop-up hood further enhances pedestrian safety. On collision, three touch sensors in the front bumper detect the danger and activate a pyrotechnic actuator. In a fraction of a second, the rear edge of the hood lifts by 100mm. This provides ample clearance between the hood and the hard engine components beneath it. If the head or shoulder of a pedestrian hits the relatively soft hood, this will buckle. The pop-up hood can therefore significantly reduce the risk of serious injury.
Accident prevention with Advanced Driving Assist Systems
The Legend is fitted with Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) and Collision Mitigation Brake System (CMBS). ACC automatically ensures a constant distance is kept from the vehicle in front, on the motorway, for example. This makes driving longer distances more relaxing and less tiring.
CMBS: when the minimum distance is dangerously breeched, the driver is alerted by a series of sounds and visual warnings and also by a short retraction of the seatbelt. If a collision is still unavoidable, the system helps minimise the impact by activating the brakes (e.g. by blocking) before the driver activates the brakes. In addition, the system electronically retracts the seatbelts of the front passengers. If the CMBS detects that there is still no response from the driver, rendering a collision unavoidable, the system automatically activates the brakes for strong deceleration.
In addition, right hand drive models can be fitted with an optional Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS). The system maintains the position of the car in its lane providing steering torque when necessary - this significantly reduces driver fatigue and reduces the risk of veering off the road.
Increased safety at night
The new Legend comes as standard with the Active Front Lighting System (AFS). The main headlights beam white, ultra bright xenon light. The term AFS stands for Honda's interpretation of an advanced combination of corner and indicator lighting, which illuminates the road effectively in the driving direction. The left headlight swivels left and the right unit swivels to the right, to fully illuminate corners and junctions at night. This helps the driver negotiate difficult situations when driving at night and provides better recognition of pedestrians or other obstructions.
Navigation and Communication
The new Legend features as standard satellite navigation system with voice-recognition. The complete digital map information is provided on a DVD. A high performance processor allows fast route calculation and new software zooms in on the map display in virtually real-time.
Good news for mobile phone users. Every Legend is equipped with an integral hands-free kit. The installation of Bluetooth technology guarantees that all current mobile phones - regardless of the manufacturer - can be used: After an initial 'pairing' between the mobile and the car, the driver's mobile is recognised as soon as the ignition is started and can stay in a jacket pocket or even in the boot when making or receiving phone calls. The driver dials and accepts calls by using the buttons on the steering wheel or by voice-recognition.
Experience music with high-end intensity
For an exceptional audio experience, the Honda Legend is fitted with an up-to-date Bose® audio system. With the ten speakers, engineered specifically for the Legend by the American Bose® team, the cabin becomes a concert hall. Surround sound is delivered to all five seating positions. The integral 6-disc CD player can play DVD audio, CD and MP3 media. Selected audio system functions can be controlled by voice recognition. Music tracks or CDs, for example, can be changed via voice command.