Honda Legend First generation (1985 to 1990)
|Also called||Acura Legend|
|Layout||Front-engine, front-wheel drive layout|
|Engine||2.0 L C20A V6 (Japan) 2.0 L C20AT turbo V6 (Japan) 2.5 L C25A V6 2.7 L C27A V6|
|Transmission||5-speed manual 4-speed automatic|
|Wheelbase||Sedan: 108.7 in (2,761 mm) Coupe: 106.5 in (2,705 mm)|
|Length||Sedan 189.4 in (4,811 mm) '86-'88 Sedan 190.6 in (4,841 mm) '89-'90 Sedan (Japan): 184.6 in (4,689 mm) Coupe: 188 in (4,775.2 mm)|
|Width||Sedan 68.3 in (1,735 mm) '86-'88 Sedan 68.9 in (1,750 mm) '89-'90 Sedan (Japan): 66.7 in (1,694 mm) Coupe: 68.7 in (1,745 mm)|
|Height||Sedan: 54.7 in (1,389 mm) Coupe: 53.9 in (1,369 mm)|
The first-generation Legend, introduced to Japan October 22, 1985, was the first production Honda vehicle to offer only a SOHC V6 engine worldwide. The introduction of the Legend also coincided with the launch of a new dealership sales channel in Japan, called Honda Clio. The Legend was a result of a joint venture with Britain's Austin Rover Group called Project XX that started in November 1981 with the Austin Rover-Honda XX letter of intent signed by the two companies to replace the Rover SD1 and to provide a luxury vehicle for Honda, and was codenamed as HX. The Rover Company had a long established reputation as a luxury car maker in the United Kingdom and Europe, demonstrated with the Rover P5 and Rover P6, and Honda wanted to introduce a luxury car for the Japanese, European and North American markets. Rover also wanted to return to the American market when previously they had reportedly sold only 1,500 cars in 1971, and a brief return in 1980, selling 800 Rover SD1s by offering the Sterling which was also a result of the ARG-Honda partnership. The development work was carried out at Rover's Canley, Coventry plant and Honda's Tochigi Prefecture development centre.
Honda and British Leyland/Rover agreed that Legends would be built in Plant Oxford for the British market. However, quality issues prevented many from going into the market and ended up being used as in-plant transport. The US-market Legends were built in Japan.
Honda wanted to expand its model range above the Honda Accord, and offer a premium level sedan that would appeal to wealthy middle-aged customers who were the traditional buyers of the Toyota Crown, Mazda Luce, and Nissan Cedric/Gloria. In 1981 Honda had introduced a luxury level version of the Accord, called the Honda Vigor, but realized that they needed to manufacture a larger, more exclusive sedan with similar dimensions to the Crown, Luce, Cedric, and Gloria. When the Legend was introduced worldwide, the optional equipment list was minimal as commonly identified equipment regarded as luxury in nature was included as standard equipment, leaving the only option the choice between a manual or automatic transmission.
The major mechanical difference between the Legend and the Toyota, Mazda and Nissan sedans was that the Legend was front wheel drive, which Honda stated was "quite simply the most logical means to the ends the engineers desired: a true luxury car with a low, aerodynamic hood; a spacious interior with a nearly flat floor, and the superior traction that results from placing the engine and drivetrain transversely over the drive wheels." This provided the Legend with a front-end heavy 63/37 front to rear weight distribution ratio, similar to the NSU Ro 80. The ride was engineered to appeal towards the luxury car market and not necessarily towards the performance market, and the front to rear weight distribution ratio reflected this goal. Efforts to minimize torque steer were achieved by the half shafts and the angles of the joints at the ends of those shafts being equalized, helping the Legend to accelerate in a straight line.
The Japanese-spec Legend was offered with three trim levels; the V6Xi with the 2.5 L C25A V6 engine, with the slightly shorter and narrower V6Gi and V6Zi using the 2.0 L C20A V6. The V6Gi had the same level of equipment and luxury features as the V6Xi, whereas the V6Zi had reduced content and a lower price. The V6 engines were available with electronic, multi-port sequential fuel injection Honda called Programmed Fuel Injection, or PGM-FI and a variable length intake manifold on the smaller 2.0 L V6. The larger 2.5 L engine was upgraded to the C27A 2.7 L displacement for model year 1988 and added the variable length intake manifold as a major engine improvement. The engine benefited from Honda's successes with its endeavors in Formula One racing in 1964, and Honda's F1 racing car, the Honda RA271. Transmission selections were either a four speed automatic transaxle with a computer controlled lockup torque converter, or a five speed manual transaxle.
In order for the sedan to comply with Japanese vehicle size requirements and reduced tax liability, the car with the 2.0 L V6 was slightly shorter and narrower for Japanese buyers by reducing the extension of the front and rear bumper covers, and reducing the overall width to 1,695 mm (66.7 in). This also offered an alternative to the traditional Crown and Cedric/Gloria customer base due to the sedan being in the smaller size classification and reduced tax liability but with a comparable level of luxury equipment found in the larger cars, and the same amount of interior space due to the front wheel drive powertrain, with a wheelbase advantage of 30 mm (1.2 in) over the Cedric / Gloria and Crown. To address the issue of durability, the Legend was manufactured as a Monocoque sedan instead of a four door hardtop, a bodystyle still offered at the time by Toyota and Nissan on the Crown and Cedric/Gloria. The slightly smaller bodystyle also allowed the Legend to compete with the upscale Toyota Cresta and Chaser and the Nissan Laurel.
The Legend offered many Honda "firsts", such as a driver side airbag, vehicle speed sensitive power assist rack and pinon steering, anti-lock brakes, seat belt pre-tensioners with Emergency Locking Retractors (called E.L.R.), a choice of 100% wool or cloth moquette upholstery, and "TCS" Traction control, the first car to use traction control on a front wheel drive vehicle. Attention was given to make sure the Legend was quiet, so Honda used computer simulation using NASTRAN, a stress analysis program created by NASA, helping the car achieve a drag coefficient of 0.32 and an interior noise level of 63dB (measured while the vehicle was travelling at 100 km/h (62.1 mph) using a manual transmission in 5th gear), and by using triple seals around the tops of door openings.
The Legend was introduced with a double wishbone suspension for the front wheels, and a modified Chapman strut with trailing arm rear suspension Honda called "RF (Reduced Friction) Strut Rear Suspension" with progressive rate rear coil springs that stiffen as they compress to combine smooth ride and good handling. The rear coil spring was separate from the strut and positioned so that vertical pressure was supported by the lower control arm. The term Reduced Friction referred to the minimizing of forces that create friction in the shock absorbers, providing more efficient damping for the full suspension stroke. The rear suspension was upgraded to double wishbone starting with the 1988 model year worldwide.
Notable owners of the first year Legend were Soichiro Honda the founder of Honda, Satoru Nakajima, Tyrrell Racing F1 driver in 1990, and Ayrton Senna. The Legend V6Xi was used as the pace car for the Suzuka Circuit for 1986.
"Wing Turbo" version
In 1988, Honda upgraded the C20A V6 engine used exclusively in the KA5 series Legend with a variable geometry turbocharger calling it the "Wing Turbo" Japanese TV commercial to address the modest power available from the previous engine with variable length intake manifold used in earlier models. The turbocharger compressor housing had four vanes made from heat resistant Inconel alloy surrounding the turbine wheel on the air intake side that would fluctuate based on engine load and transmission gearing above 2,000 rpm to allow for increased airflow into the engine as needed. The turbo compressor could generate as much as 450 millimetres of mercury (8.7 psi) of boost, and was paired with a water cooled intercooler installed inside the intake plenum between the cylinder banks to produce 140 kW (190 PS; 188 bhp) net at 6000 rpm and a maximum torque of 24.6 kg·m (241 N·m; 178 lb·ft) at 3500 rpm. Honda Legend V6 turbo idling
According to an excerpt originally printed by Automotive Engineering dated January 1989 "The movable wings are positive pressure- and vacuum-operated, their angle changes are controlled by an eight-bit 36-kilo byte computer that also manages fuel injection. Positive pressure to the wing actuator is supplied by the turbo's supercharge pressure, controlled by a frequency solenoid valve, and negative pressure is generated by intake vacuum and accumulated in a reservoir which is also solenoid controlled. The CPU is fed signals including boost pressure, intake temperature, coolant temperature, throttle opening, engine rpm, and vehicle speed. The Wing Turbo is not fitted with a conventional wastegate.
On idling and steady-state cruising that do not require supercharging, the movable flags--or wings--which are fully opened, allow exhaust gas to enter the enlarged nozzle area and pass through the turbine smoothly with little resistance. At the beginning of full acceleration, the wings close fully, reducing the nozzle area through which accelerated gas enters and strikes the turbine blades forcefully, gaining boost quickly. When maximum boost is obtained, the movable wings begin to close gradually, until the vehicle reaches a desired cruising velocity whereby the wings open fully. The nozzle area varies continuously according to operating and load conditions."
The turbo was installed just above the automatic transmission unit; a manual transmission was not offered. This engine was only offered in Japan using the shortened sedan bodystyle, labeled as "2.0 Ti Exclusive" and "2.0 Ti". The engine was used for just two years, due to the introduction of the second generation Legend in 1990 with the much larger C32A V6, and as such Wing Turbo sedans are extremely rare. Much of the research on this engine contributed to the VTEC C30A V6 engine used in the 1990 Honda NSX. The Legend Turbo can be identified as by a "TURBO" badge attached to the front grille on the bottom right hand side and a "V6Ti" rear badge.
The Honda Legend was introduced for the 1987 model year and was virtually identical in equipment offered and vehicle dimensions to the North American model, with one trim designation called the V6-2.5i. This means very few options were available other than the choice of transmission, and an air conditioning system identical to the North American version. The Europeans were offered an optional "Special Equipment Pack" that offered cruise control, aluminium alloy wheels, a driver's seat with power lumbar support, height, fore/aft and reclining adjusters, adjustable rear headrests, a 4 speaker stereo system provided by Philips and headlight wipers. Front and rear mud flaps were standard in undisclosed countries but not all. The radio volume control rocker switch and preset radio scan button installed on the instrument binnacle was not offered.
Legend coupe and other changes
The Legend Coupe was introduced February 6, 1987, which shared the double wishbone suspension and powertrain setup from the moderately improved sedan for the 1987 model year. Incidentally, the Japanese coupe was both longer and wider, which increased its tax liability, yet it had a shorter wheelbase by 2.2 in (56 mm).
Starting with the introduction of model year 1988, the trim level "Exclusive" was introduced, offering genuine wood trim provided by Tendo Mokko on the dashboard and center console with a very large selection of available wood type and hues to choose from, automatic headlights, headlight washer/wipers, separate rear passenger climate control, and chrome-plated power folding mirrors and door handles with infrared remote keyless entry. October 14, 1988 saw a minor restyle offered for the interior and dashboard, to provide a more luxurious appearance in comparison to the Nissan and Toyota uplevel sedans the Legend was competing with. Due to the success Honda had with the Legend, it served as an inspiration for many vehicles from multiple manufacturers, including the Subaru Legacy with which it shares many visual resemblances and dimensions both inside and out.