The creation of the second-generation Acura Legend was an important milestone in the evolution of luxury/performance cars. Soon after the 1987 introduction of the first-generation Legend Coupe, Honda Research and Development Co., Ltd. began work on the second-generation Legend Sedan and Legend Coupe. Their goal, broadly stated, was to make an already excellent automobile better in every way.
The Legend designers analyzed the existing models and how they were being received in the major markets- North America, Japan and Europe. They found that the Legend was creating a market that had not existed before: the market for Japanese luxury/performance automobiles. Its combination of high quality, performance, reliability and value for money had won a high level of credibility with discerning motorists. The challenge: to develop a second-generation Legend that would build upon this credibility and reputation while advancing the actual design and engineering to a new state of the art that would take the Legend well into the '90s.
CONCEPTS AND GOALS
As a general principle, the planners had to redefine the position of the second generation Legend in the performance/luxury market. Even then they knew of other manufacturers' plans to enter the field with significantly larger, heavier models positioned well up the price scale. They were also intent on maintaining the Acura tradition of engineering for high efficiency and intelligent design. Together, these two fundamental considerations pointed toward maintaining the same relative position in the market, retaining the considerable advantages of front-wheel drive and improving every aspect of this already driver-oriented luxury/performance automobile.
The engineers decided to improve performance and achieve a sportier driving feel while achieving greater luxury - yet they were not willing to accept a major weight increase. Reaching these rather contradictory goals meant extensive application of high technology.
A primary goal of the second-generation Legend was to achieve sportier handling - to make the new Legend even moreof a "driver's car." Higher performance under all driving conditions was at the top of the list of priorities and Honda R&D was prepared to create an all-new engine to meet it. Another important goal was to make the new Legend even quieter and smoother. To attain these results, they made a decision that would affect the entire car profoundly- to position the engine longitudinally or "north-south," instead of the transverse or "east-west" mounting of the original Legend engine. This improves the front/rear weight distribution, and diminishes the amount of engine vibration transmitted to the body structure.
Other advantages of this drivetrain layout include maximum braking and precise handling (because of the improved weight distribution) and excellent rigidity (because major structural members can run almost the entire length of the car). Yet the principal strengths of front-wheel drive would be retained:
- Greater space efficiency, primarily in the form of a lower center tunnel and larger trunk
- Excellent high-speed stability and resistance to crosswinds
- Superior traction on snowy, icy or wet roads
- Lower overall vehicle weight
By employing weight-saving design techniques, the engineers developed a 3.2-liter engine that is almost 20 percent larger in displacement and develops fully 26 percent more power than its predecessor, yet weighs not a kilogram more.
While retaining the advantages of independent double-wishbone suspension all around, Legend engineers designed all-new hardware. At the front, new L-shaped lower suspension arms and large-angle constant-velocity joints work with the longitudinal engine arrangement to achieve a 2.3-foot tighter turning circle, while a new speed-sensitive power steering system improves steering feel. The rear suspension is designed for greater riding comfort and more precise handling. Advanced valving in the gas-pressurized shock absorbers also contributes to handling and ride quality, and four-wheel disc brakes are used. A Honda R&D-engineered Anti-Lock Braking System(ABS) is standard on all Legend Sedan models.
The unit body structure has been enhanced in many ways as well. Optimal rigidity in the cabin area contributes to the feeling of solidity. By applying sophisticated computer design techniques to the structure, the Legend body engineers were able to use thicker outer body panels without significantly increasing overall body weight.
For the interior of the Legend, every effort was made to attain even higher quality and greater luxury, combined with elegant design. Climate-control and audio systems were improved and made even easier to operate. Standard throughout the entire Legend line is a driver's and passenger's side dual air bag Supplemental Restraint System(SRS) with automatic seat belt tensioners. Rich leather trim is standard in the LS model and optional in the L model.