Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search


MOTORNET: More than meets the eye

MOTORNET: More than meets the eye

SCOOP MOTORNET with Karl Ferguson
Images by Neil Mackenzie -

Click to enlarge

It would be easy to dismiss the latest Honda Legend as just another attempt by a Japanese carmaker to get a slice of the luxury car territory. After all, the paying public is spoilt for choice when it comes to luxury sedans and it’s generally the Europeans who dominate the segment, with Lexus being the notable exception. What’s another one joining the ranks you might well sigh. But don’t be so hasty.

Click to enlarge

Admittedly, the Legend has been missing from the New Zealand line up for a while now, and its relatively recent return could have gone largely unnoticed by many. Yet, even though the Legend is unlikely to ever be a volume seller here, it is a car that will attract some interest, and for the right reasons.

Mind you, that’s not likely to be due to how it looks. Depending on the observer, the styling is conservative and unimaginative at worst, handsome and quite modern at best. And while it has more presence than its Accord siblings – this is helped by its larger dimensions – it’s unlikely to be a head turner at the traffic lights. Even so, many will correctly identify it as a Honda thanks to the styling treatment that’s both reminiscent of Legends past and the current Honda crop of cars.

Click to enlarge

Inside, the Legend is as you might expect. In fact, it’s a great deal like other Hondas I have driven except that this car has more of everything… more leather, more gadgetry, but most of all, more luxury. The seats are large and comfortable, everything is made from quality materials and thoroughly screwed together. You know instantly this is a car that will still be free of creaks in 20 years time. Equipment wise, there’s everything from an electric blind and sunroof, to electrically retractable wing mirrors and LED lights that give the cabin a classy hue at night. Oh, and it has a frighteningly good stereo.

Inevitably, there’s a sizable LCD screen to display not just the satellite navigation (admittedly, a $4k option) but also everything else the car is capable of, which is plenty. There’s a ‘BMW-esque’ i-Drive controller to help you navigate your way through the options menu which I found maddeningly fiddly so no different from any other car manufacturers system in this regard.

So far then so predictable for a car competing in this class. But then you notice something interesting – there are twin paddles nestled discreetly behind the steering wheel that fit the tips of your fingers brilliantly. When you start the engine, it has a note more crisp and sporting than you were expecting. And a quick perusal of the specification sheet will also reveal the Legend is sporting all-wheel-drive, and not just any old system, but Honda’s oddly named ‘SH-AWD’ system or Super Handling All Wheel Drive. It’s different in that it will direct up to 70 percent of the engine’s torque to the front or rear axles as required – which is important in that it can give this otherwise innocuous sedan a rear wheel drive feeling, and it shows in the dynamic stakes.

Click to enlarge

At first, there’s a degree of hesitation when hustling through corners. It’s a car that takes some getting used to partly because of its weight and size, and partly due to how it feels, and yet it consistently over delivers, never feeling as soft or as heavy as you might expect, and retaining good speed and composure throughout the execution.

The steering, although Honda-light is pretty well weighted, though for a car with this much promise, the feel is dreadfully muted and it should really weight up more when being pushed.

The 3.5 litre V6 manages to do the business, though it has to work pretty hard. And why they couldn’t dial more character into the engine note at speed is beyond me. It never feels especially fast, and yet it gathers speed quickly. Neither is kick down as sharp as you would like once you get into the driving groove, and I am surprised by the lack of a six speed box given this is virtually standard on many competitors – in some cases, even seven ratios are included.

Click to enlarge

All of which rather leaves me scratching my head. How does a car so seemingly pigeonholed present in real life as something quite different, an enigma even. It may not have the precision or sense of purpose of a 5-Series BMW, but then it’s larger, roomier and has a sumptuous ride by comparison. With an average consumption of 16 litres/100km around town, the Legend certainly likes a drink. I can imagine a school maam writing ‘must do better’ on its report card, though in fairness, the average began to drop quickly once on the open road, and its official combined fuel figure is under 10 litres/100km.

It impresses in passenger space, and while I didn’t spend much time there, the back pews are generous both in head and leg room (although the electric motors under the front seats constrict toe room) and are genuinely comfortable. The boot is cavernous.

The Legend’s likely biggest Achilles heel is almost certainly its very close stablemate – the Accord V6. The Accord may not have all the fruit, but starting at $42,000 for the reasonably well equipped entry level model – the Legend is a comparatively eye-watering $92k – an extra $50k ask seems like a lot, especially given the Accord’s trade off of only 15kWs is compensated by a weight reduction of close to 250kgs.

To truly be a success it probably needs to be sharper, both in the steering and pricing departments and it could do with a few more herbs to really take the fight to the European brigade. And soon it might. A facelifted model is about to hit showrooms which will see the Legend gain an additional 200cc and more power, updated styling and extra goodies – though no price reduction sadly. Keep in mind too that Honda is a company that has branding and marketing down to a fine art, and it is entirely possible that the focus group that helped shape this car has things pretty much where they wanted them. Whether that’s enough to put punters behind the wheel is something only time will tell.


© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Eric Zuesse: U.S. Empire: Biden And Kerry Gave Orders To Ukraine’s President

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at Strategic Culture On May 19th, an implicit international political warning was issued, but it wasn’t issued between countries; it was issued between allied versus opposed factions within each of two countries: U.S. and Ukraine. ... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Budget Cockups In The Time Of Coronavirus: Reporting Errors And Australia’s JobKeeper Scheme

Hell has, in its raging fires, ringside seats for those who like their spreadsheets. The seating, already peopled by those from human resources, white collar criminals and accountants, becomes toastier for those who make errors with those spreadsheets. ... More>>

The Dig - COVID-19: Just Recovery

The COVID-19 crisis is compelling us to kick-start investment in a regenerative and zero-carbon future. We were bold enough to act quickly to stop the virus - can we now chart a course for a just recovery? More>>

The Conversation: Are New Zealand's New COVID-19 Laws And Powers Really A Step Towards A Police State?

Reaction to the New Zealand government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and resultant lockdown has ranged from high praise to criticism that its actions were illegal and its management chaotic. More>>

Keith Rankin: Universal Versus Targeted Assistance, A Muddled Dichotomy

The Commentariat There is a regular commentariat who appear on places such as 'The Panel' on Radio New Zealand (4pm on weekdays), and on panels on television shows such as Newshub Nation (TV3, weekends) and Q+A (TV1, Mondays). Generally, these panellists ... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Welcome Deaths: Coronavirus And The Open Plan Office

For anybody familiar with that gruesome manifestation of the modern work place, namely the open plan office, the advent of coronavirus might be something of a relief. The prospects for infection in such spaces is simply too great. You are at risk from ... More>>

Caitlin Johnstone: Do You Consent To The New Cold War?

The world's worst Putin puppet is escalating tensions with Russia even further, with the Trump administration looking at withdrawal from more nuclear treaties in the near future. In addition to planning on withdrawing from the Open Skies Treaty ... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Why Thinking Makes It So: Donald Trump’s Obamagate Fixation

The “gate” suffix has been wearing thin since the break-in scandal that gave it its birth. Since Watergate, virtually anything dubious and suggestive, and much more besides, is suffixed. Which brings us to the issue of President Donald Trump’s ... More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Ethics (and Some Of The Economics) Of Lifting The Lockdown

As New Zealand passes the half-way mark towards moving out of Level Four lockdown, the trade-offs involved in life-after-lockdown are starting to come into view. All very well for National’s finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith to claim that “The number one priority we have is to get out of the lockdown as soon as we can”…Yet as PM Jacinda Ardern pointed out a few days ago, any crude trade-off between public health and economic well-being would be a false choice... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Brutal Choices: Anders Tegnell And Sweden’s Herd Immunity Goal

If the title of epidemiological czar were to be created, its first occupant would have to be Sweden’s Anders Tegnell. He has held sway in the face of sceptics and concern that his “herd immunity” approach to COVID-19 is a dangerous, and breathtakingly ... More>>


  • PublicAddress
  • Pundit
  • Kiwiblog