13 April 2004

A flagship Honda Legend saloon – based on this new high-tech Acura RL shown at the New York show – will return to the UK line-up next autumn.

The BMW 5-series-sized saloon packs a 300bhp punch from a new 3.5-litre V6 and drives all four wheels with a high-tech transmission dubbed SH-AWD (Super Handling-All-Wheel Drive).

In its styling it is one of the first cars to draw influence – perhaps bravely – from the controversial BMW 7-series, with a toned-down version of the German car’s boot treatment.

With compact front and rear overhangs and a wide stance, the new Legend will be the sportiest and most attractive flagship that Honda has imported to the UK.

The new V6 has a 60-degree vee and is mounted transversely. The current Legend (RL in the US market) has a longitudinal 3.5-litre V6 with a wider, 90-degree vee. Thanks to the better package of the transverse V6, the Legend squeezes in more cabin space, despite a shorter overall length.

But the clever stuff in the flagship Honda is the four-wheel-drive system. It employs a planetary gearbox ahead of the rear differential to divert extra torque to the outer wheels, which Honda claims as a world first.

Sensing inputs of steering angle and lateral g-force, it can ‘overspeed’ the rear outer wheel to take advantage of the weight transfer to that wheel during cornering. The flow of torque is controlled by two electro-mechanical clutches on either side of the rear differential.

Although Mitsubishi’s AYC system uses a similar gearbox, Honda claims SH-AWD is a better set-up, because it can vary the torque across the rear axle from 0 to 100 per cent. The Mitsubishi system has a more limited transfer of torque.

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week