The $360,000 Legend offers limo-like legroom, a 14-speaker sound system and three electric motors
Most expensive Legend The new Honda Legend is fun to drive and comes with many tools to keep occupants safe.ST PHOTOS: SEAH KWANG PENG

A legend is someone or something that is extremely famous, or a traditional tale passed down through word of mouth.

The Honda Legend is neither in Singapore. So few have been sold that the odds of sighting one are minuscule (the last time Honda sold the Legend here was back in 2007).

The car has a long history overseas. Launched in 1985 as Honda's flagship sedan, it led Honda's charge into the United States luxury segment under the Acura brand.

In Singapore, the only Japanese cars with big engines that do well belong to Lexus.

But the Legend is poised for a comeback. The new car is the longest Honda here, measuring 5m front to back. That makes it longer than the soon-to-be-replaced Mercedes-Benz E-class (4,879mm) and only slightly shorter than a BMW 7-series with normal wheelbase (5,098mm).

At nearly $360,000, it is also the most expensive Honda here, costing about $100,000 more than a BMW 528i. Which is why it has to make a strong case for itself.

It cannot rely on its looks - the car is conservative and understated, not something that people would take a second glance at.

But looks can be deceiving. The car has other strong points, such as its class-leading technology. It is powered by a 3.5-litre naturally aspirated V6 aided by no fewer than three electric motors. This makes it one of the most sophisticated hybrids around.

Like most Honda engines, its V6 is a gem. It loves to be revved and, at higher engine speeds, behaves like it can summon a second engine in reserve to continue to shove the car forward.

For a nearly 2-tonne car, its 5.9-second century sprint is more than respectable. Pressing an inviting "sport" button on the shift gate sharpens the car's steering response and delays gear shifts.

And the car is intelligent enough to toggle among powering the front, rear and all four wheels, depending on how it is driven. This gives the Legend predictable handling whether at high speeds, around bends or in wet conditions.

Driving the Legend around the secluded roads near Seletar Airport, I am reminded of the unforgettable Honda Civic SiR that I drove about two decades ago. It is so much fun.

If the way the Legend drives is not enough to tempt buyers, its bells and whistles might. It has a head-up display system, which allows drivers to customise information projected on the windscreen, and a two-screen infotainment system with Bluetooth and navigation.

An arsenal of tools is available to keep occupants safe. The car warns its driver if he is too close to the car in front, when he strays off lane or if there are vehicles lurking in his blind spots. There are radars, cameras and sensors to slow the car to avoid a collision or help drivers park.

Rear passengers will enjoy limo-like legroom and a superb 14-speaker sound system. The car has excellent fuel consumption too, recording about 9 litres for each 100km over a 120km test-drive.

The Legend has everything except a sizeable boot. Its 340-litre stowage is smaller than even that of the Honda City (536-litre) because of space taken up by two of its three motors. This is the biggest shortcoming in an otherwise flawless car.

Alas, those with the money are more likely to look elsewhere. But those who choose to buy the Legend will enjoy an exclusivity that escapes most Japanese cars.

CAR INFORMATION

Honda Legend Hybrid 3.5 (A)

Price

:$445,999

Engine Type

:

V6 SOHC i-VTEC

Engine Cap

:

3,471 cc

Horsepower

:

308 bhp / 6,500 rpm

Torque

:

369 Nm / 4,700 rpm

Transmission

:

7-speed (A) DCT

Acceleration

:

5.9 sec (0-100 km/h)

Top Speed

:

-