Legen... Wait For It...

Yes. Wait. Let's get one thing straight first. When you are spending  close to 3 million pesos or more on a car, you are probably looking for something with an x factor. Whether you are in the pursuit of speed or luxury, the car you are buying will most certainly have an ace up its sleeve. If you're looking for something that eats asphalt for breakfast, you might be looking at Subaru's WRX STI. If you're looking for something to waft you to church, you might be looking at a Lexus ES350.

You might even want a bit of both, so you fork over north of 4 million pesos and get a yourself a BMW 5 Series. Strangely, I don't think anyone wakes up in the morning and says, "I've worked hard the last two decades. I have about 4.5 million pesos to burn and I'm going to gift myself a car. I'm not going to have a Mercedes-Benz, I'm going to get myself a Honda". There lies the huge problem. You see, right about the only time a Japanese car will ever make any sense in that sentence is if you substitute 'Honda' with 'Toyota Land Cruiser'. Otherwise, it all falls apart. 

You see, the Honda Legend is actually a very good car. It's a mammoth on the road, it has trick hybrid technology, it has a 7-speed dual clutch gearbox, it's got a bombastic engine, and it's quite the looker with its bejeweled LED headlights. However, there are immediate problems. The first thing is the price. At almost 4.4 million pesos without the Yamaguchi jewelry aka the Mugen kit, it's way too expensive.

At twice the price of a Honda Accord V6, I at least want it to look and feel like twice the car - but somehow it doesn't. Now some are going to say, "but it has a trick hybrid system", which is true. It does have a hybrid motor, and when it has enough juice, you can actually start it and drive off propelled by electricity like a spectre in the night.

"The very essence of a hybrid system is to save fuel."

However, there is another problem. The very essence of a hybrid system is to save fuel, but I am too distracted to even bother at how much it has actually saved, when it's returning a combined cycle of 5.9 km/L. That would have been fine, if I were chowing down asphalt like an STI, but I wasn't. I kept my speed at the very maximum of 120 km/h.

And you wouldn't really enjoy driving quickly in this car, because apart from its size, it transmission has a mind of its own. It has paddles so that I can override it, but it only allows me to shift when it feels like it. In fact, even in full automatic mode, it seems to confuse itself. Sometimes, it just likes to stay at 4,500 rpm... Why? Your guess is as good as mine. 

If you learn to forget about all of those variables, you'll soon accept that you are inside something cool. For starters, it's so quiet inside the cabin. The insulation is top notch, and that trickles to its noise, vibration, and harshness rating. The engine is so smooth and so quiet, that if you had the radio on, you wouldn't be able to hear it fire up when the batteries decide to rest. The interior is also quite nice. Is it 4.5 million pesos nice? Not really.

I think this is what the Honda Accord should look like if it is to dominate the segment. I especially love the fully customized 14-speaker Krell audio system. At first it sounded a bit too flat and underwhelming, but once you get the settings right depending on the genre of music you're listening to, it's quite the system. Low frequency bass is excellent and there's a lot of separation through the speakers. Premium stuff.

"It's also so spacious inside, that you start to forgive its quirks."

Then there's the ride, which is great. It irons out bumps nicely and the dampers really flatten the car out in harsh road undulations. Unfortunately, I can't say it rides much better than a Toyota Camry does. What it offers though, is a sense of occasion and a ton of space.

Whether you are behind the wheel or not, you know that there's a bigger chance you're going to bump into a Porsche than another one of these on the road. It's also so spacious inside, that you start to forgive its quirks. Plus, you're going to love the puzzled stares people give when you're running on a dead combustion engine.

"If you manage to bump it still, they need to revoke your license."

I loved the toys too. The cameras really spoil you. They really help you squeeze this giant with precision through our tiny city streets. If you manage to bump it still, they need to revoke your license. As great as some of those features were, some of warning lights and lane change wizardry need to be toned down even in their least intrusive setting. On the highway, the system kept going hysterical, thinking I was going to crash into every single car that I was overtaking.

It may have been too busy minding my business that it has forgotten to shift gears at the right time. Besides, if I can't overtake cars, what's the point of having 380 horses under the hood? Speaking of power, when you push the car hard with electric assistance, you feel the loss of power once Nikola's invention runs out of juice. It has this wave of torque that feels superior to the surge of combustion.  

"If you can live with spending that kind of money on a Honda that doesn't read the letters NSX, then you're fine."

I infer that the important question here isn't if it is a good car, because it obviously is. The bigger question is if you'd actually buy one. Well, If you can live with spending that kind of money on a Honda that doesn't read the letters NSX, then you're fine. For this car to achieve true greatness, what it needs to do is slash a cool million from its price tag. Until then, it will remain to be one of Honda's most polarizing cars, which is a bit sad, really.

I truly enjoyed driving it around. No other car can bring your Yakuza fantasies to life better than this one, especially in full Mugen flavor. I think I even started referring to myself as Yamaguchi-san. As for me, I like to think of it as Salmon Sashimi. There is no faulting the Japanese delicacy's excellence. It is a great dish no matter how you look at it, but if you are going to charge Foie Gras money for it, I'm having Foie Gras tonight.

No bodies were found in the yard.

2016 Honda Legend 3.5 Sport Hybrid SH-AWD Mugen

Engine: Earth Dreams Technology, 3,471cc, SOHC 24V, i-VTEC V6 with Variable Cylinder Management, Naturally Aspirated with 3-Motor Hybrid System
Fuel: Gasoline
Power: 380 bhp @ 6,500 rpm
Torque: 462 Nm @ 4,700 rpm
Transmission: 7-Speed Dual Clutch, AWD
0-100 km/h: 5.4 seconds
Top Speed: 249 km/h
Fuel Economy: 5.9 km/L Overall
Price: PHP4,380,000 (standard, non-Mugen)
+: Power, space, tech, standard equipment
-: Transmission needs work, too thirsty for a hybrid, and way too expensive
Verdict: A great car trapped in a hefty price tag
Rating: 8/10

Ex-Automotive Executive

Instagram: @enzoteodoro