Sporting the groundbreaking technology that Honda calls Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD), the Legend-recently relaunched in Japan-heads for Europe with a Honda badge. The new Legend is shorter but wider than the previous generation, a design intended to enhance handling and create a roomier cabin.
Super Handling All-Wheel Drive creates cornering grip via electronic torque management. Normally, an AWD car transfers torque from the front to the rear as acceleration and spirited driving demands increased traction, but generally some power is always turning the front wheels. SH-AWD can transfer as much as 100 percent of the torque to the outside rear wheel alone. This "overdriving" effect helps the car turn in more quickly for optimum cornering ability. During hard deceleration through corners, torque is balanced to the other side to counteract oversteer.
SH-AWD uses sensors measuring steering input, lateral acceleration and wheel speed. Wheels are governed by electromagnetic clutches located in the rear differential, which control sets of planetary gears to transfer optimal torque to each rear wheel.
Europeans also get double wishbones up front, multi-link suspension in back, and Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) to aid those drivers who get a little too spirited. Magnesium cylinder head covers, an aluminum intake manifold, carbon-fiber driveshaft and aluminum hood, front-quarter and trunk lid panels are among the Legend's weight reduction measures.
Combined with the 295-hp, 3.5-liter VTEC V6, the Legend is poised to give Europe's domestic sedans a good chase. Use of the world's first Intelligent Night Vision system is another in the long list of technical highlights that made the Legend the Japan Car of the Year in 2004.